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Media Law (LAW-683-001)
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The overall objective of this course is to learn about the relationship between the government and the media and regulation of the media, and 1st Amendment protections against regulation. Some of the major issues to be discussed will be: 1) Who is a “reporter” – a blogger, a web site operator, an internet server, etc.?; 2) Why are prior restraints on publication deemed to be more damaging than subsequent punishment, and is such restraint actually more damaging?; 3) What policies should guide the extent to which the government can restrict the media on “national security” grounds?; 4) What is defamation?; 5) Does U.S. law go too far in protecting the press against defamation suits – especially when the plaintiff is a “public figure”?; 6) Should reporters be required to reveal confidential sources, and if so, under what conditions?; 7) To what extent should the media have a right of access to various forms of information and judicial proceedings? How should the answer to that question differ, if at all, for “terrorism” cases? Although this course is about U.S. media law, it is clear that learning US law is enhanced by knowing at least something about the different approaches of other countries, and their criticism of certain aspects of US law (especially in the area of defamation). We will therefore occasionally (and very briefly) discuss the approaches of other countries. I may also occasionally assign very short (1-2 page) articles about ongoing media law issues in other countries if they help shed light on US policy. This will help us focus our discussion on US media law policy and whetherwe agree with those policies and, if they should be changed, what should those changes be? In the tentative syllabus you will note that I have “reserved” the last two classes for “catch-up” or additional assignment. To try to assure that this class is both educational and fun, I intend to be flexible to allow for the introduction of “hot” issues that emerge during the course of the class. As I do my own research of current material, I may find material (films, blogs, etc.) that appear to help illustrate relevant debates about US media law. If so, I would change the syllabus to allow for inclusion of such material. Personally, I find this material to be both educational and exciting to learn. I hope those of you enroll will share that view – at least by the end of the course!
Textbooks and Other Materials
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Mass Media Law Author: Franklin Edition: 8th ISBN: 9781599418599
First Class Readings
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