Scholarship Winners 2016

unc_medialawThe UNC Center for Media Law and Policy has awarded $6,000 in scholarships to three law students working in unpaid or underpaid internships in the field of media law and policy this summer.

These are the scholarship winners and where they are working:

Varsha Mangal is a legal intern in the Office of General Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.

Chanda Marlowe is spending half of her summer working for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in San Francisco and the other half working for the Future of Privacy Forum in Washington, D.C.

Rachel M. Rice is working in the business affairs office of Broadway Video, a global entertainment and media company.  She is located in Los Angeles.

Congratulations to our wonderful students!


UNC Media Law Students to Present Research in Minneapolis

2016-AEJMC-Conference-LogoFour UNC School of Media and Journalism graduate students will present media law research papers at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s (AEJMC) national convention in Minneapolis Aug. 4-7.  One of those students – Lindsie Trego – won a prize for writing the third best student paper in the Law and Policy Division.

Congratulations, everyone!

The papers went through a process of blind review, with students and faculty competing in the same category.  These are the authors’ names, paper titles, and abstracts:

Chanda Marlowe, “Student Data in Danger: What Happens When School Districts Rely on the Cloud” (Chanda is a J.D./M.A. dual degree student in the UNC School of Media and Journalism and the School of Law.)

According to Fordham Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy’s report “Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools,” 95% of public school districts rely on cloud services for a diverse range of functions. The use of cloud services raises serious privacy concerns. For example, in March of 2014, Google admitted to scanning students’ emails and gathering data that were used to target ads to those students. Under the threat of lawsuits, Google promised to stop; however, in December 2015, Google was accused of collecting and using student data for non-education purposes again, this time in violation of the Student Privacy Pledge that it signed January 2015. Yet, schools continue to contract with private sector corporations to obtain cloud services, leaving parents to wonder what information is collected on their children, how that information is being used, and how, if at all, that information is being protected. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the major privacy problems that school districts face when they rely on cloud services offered by private corporations, to analyze how FERPA and state privacy laws are addressing these problems, and to offer possible solutions that go beyond FERPA and state privacy laws. This topic is important because legislation must strike the right balance between protecting students’ personal information and meeting the technological needs of schools.

Lindsie Trego, “Indirect Censorship of Collegiate Media: Exploring Administrative Removal of Collegiate Media Advisers as First Amendment Retaliation Against Student Journalists” (Lindsie is a J.D./M.A. dual degree student in the UNC School of Media and Journalism and the School of Law.  This is Lindsie’s prize-winning paper.)

Cases of indirect administrative censorship of collegiate media—in which students are indirectly punished for press activity—have recently made news headlines. In many of these cases, college media faculty advisers have been administratively removed from their positions in response to disputes between student editors and administrators. These cases call into question whether student journalists can successfully seek legal redress for indirect acts against their First Amendment rights, including removal of their advisers. Specifically, some have questioned whether removal of college media advisers injures student journalists—a necessary element of proving a First Amendment claim. This paper examines the analyses courts have used in past cases to determine what administrative actions injure students and applies these analyses to determine whether removal of college media advisers constitutes injury to student journalists in the context of First Amendment litigation.

Lindsie Trego & Chris Etheridge, “Power & Print: Content Influences in College Media” (Lindsie is a J.D./M.A. dual degree student in the UNC School of Media and Journalism and the School of Law.  Chris is a Ph.D. student in the School of Media and Journalism.)

Issues of censorship in higher education have lately been common in the news, however it is unclear to what degree college newspapers experience external influences. This study examines censorship in collegiate media through in-depth interviews with student newspaper editors and advisers. Specifically, this study explores what recalled practices by external actors lead editors and advisers to perceive content pressures or lack thereof, as well as how editors and advisers respond to these pressures.  

Ray Whitehouse, “An Examination of Ag-Gag and Data Trespass Statutes” (Ray is a 2016 master’s graduate of the UNC School of Media and Journalism.)

Since 1990, nine states have passed legislation that aims to limit undercover investigations of agricultural operations. These “ag-gag” laws attempt to limit investigations in three ways: by criminalizing recording and reporting on operations, criminalizing deceptive entry into operations, and by mandating that anyone recording abuse report it within a short time period. In 2015, two major events related to ag-gag laws took place. First, a federal judge ruled that Idaho’s ag-gag law was unconstitutional. This case decision, the first examining ag-gag laws, cast doubt on the constitutionality of other state ag-gag laws. Second, Wyoming passed a “data trespass” law that criminalized collecting information on “open land” with the intent to give that information to government agencies. Agricultural activists filed suit, claiming that it was an unconstitutional ag-gag law aimed at stopping citizen activists from reporting Clean Water Act violations by ranchers who lease public land from the state. Lawmakers disagreed, arguing that the bill simply strengthened existing trespass laws. This paper compares Wyoming’s data trespass law with all existing ag-gag laws and Idaho’s recently overturned law to examine its constitutionality. This examination is important because it incorporates recent legal outcomes that before now have not been incorporated into analysis of ag-gag laws. It suggests that because both the Idaho and Wyoming laws are similar in their construction and the legal questions in their respective cases are similar, the Idaho decision is very applicable to Wyoming’s data trespass law and casts serious doubts upon the constitutionality of Wyoming’s data trespass statute.


Dual Degree Student Lands Privacy Job in Washington

natashaNatasha Duarte, a fourth-year student in Carolina’s dual-degree program, will graduate with a J.D. and a master’s in Mass Communication this week.  At graduation she will be honored as the outstanding master’s graduate in the School of Media and Journalism.

Last month, Natasha successfully defended her thesis, in which she examined law enforcement’s use of big data to identify those who are at risk of committing crimes.

After graduation and a summer of studying for the bar exam, Natasha will head to Washington, D.C., to begin work at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) as the Ron Plesser Fellow. Her work at CDT will focus on consumer privacy and government surveillance issues.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to help fight for better tech policy and meaningful privacy protections,” Natasha said.

Congratulations Natasha!


Student Reports on Free Speech Conference

conferenceIn early April, I participated in a “Free Speech on Campus” conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Newseum Institute and co-sponsored by the Knight Foundation. There, 41 students from across the country exchanged thoughts about the importance of protecting free expression on college campuses while also dealing positively with the very real issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and culture and bias.

According to a recently released Gallup survey, most students (78%) say colleges should expose students to all types of speech and viewpoints, but a significant minority (22%) say colleges should prohibit biased or offensive speech in the furtherance of a positive learning environment.

What speech, if any, rises to the level of violence sparked a debate at the conference and provided insight about why some students might be willing to support speech restrictions. Some students argued that, depending on the context, racial slurs and the incorrect use of gender pronouns amounted to a violent attack while others worried about the implications of college administrators stepping in to decide what speech is and is not acceptable.

Fanta Aw, assistant vice president for campus life at American University and a sociologist by training, expressed concerns about students’ lack of understanding when it comes to free speech. She said, “Students often say ‘I’m feeling unsafe’ but, in fact, what they mean is, I’m feeling uncomfortable.” Aw would like colleges to help students deconstruct such terms and to work harder to create an environment where students value and learn from difficult conversations.

With the rise of student protests on campuses, colleges are being forced to consider how they have gotten to this point and what should be done. Jennifer Grygiel, social media specialist at Syracuse University’s school of public communications, reminded students that although social media platforms have fundamentally changed how students advocate for their causes, “we need to have conversations in real life” to make social progress.

That’s why I feel fortunate to have been a part of the conference at Newseum. There, I had an opportunity to voice my opinions and listen to the opinions of others. While our perspectives and viewpoints differed because of our lived experiences, we all agreed that we should be working together to foster a “marketplace of ideas” on our campuses. Suggestions included holding meetings under the Chatham House Rule, which would provide anonymity to speakers and encourage the sharing of information; increasing civic understanding through events like Carolina’s First Amendment Day; and organizing free speech conferences on our own campuses.

Free speech is complicated. Sometimes you feel like you are being forced to choose between your cultural identity and the rights of others to express their opinions. Perhaps, as Barack Obama said, “The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech.”  


Recent media law grad publishes in legal journal

UNC media law graduate Kevin Delaney has had a shortened version of his master’s thesis published in Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal. The article is “Aereo, the Public Performance Right, and the Future of Broadcasting.”

The article looks at Aereo, a company that offered an inexpensive way for consumers to watch broadcast television via the internet. Specifically, the article explores ABC, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., a 2014 Supreme Court case in which the Court determined that Aereo had violated broadcasters’ exclusive rights to perform copyrighted works publicly. Delaney discusses the Court’s decision and its potential future impact on copyright law and broadcasting.

This is the citation for the article: Kevin W. Delaney, Aereo, the Public Performance Right, and the Future of Broadcasting, 42 Rutgers Computer & Tech. L.J. 19 (2016).

Kevin graduated from Carolina’s  JD/MA dual degree program (earning a law degree and a master’s degree in mass communications) in 2015.  He currently is the McCormick Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Congratulations, Kevin!