First Amendment Day Events


Carolina’s seventh-annual First Amendment Day celebration will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. You can view the full schedule of events here. 

Organized by the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, this year’s festivities will include a banned-book reading by Chancellor Carol Folt; a First Amendment trivia contest; and a keynote address by Danielle Keats Citron, a legal scholar who has written extensively about hate crimes in cyberspace — especially those targeting women. There also will be a panel discussion at which UNC student journalists will discuss their problems covering UNC athletics. Steve Kirschner, the senior associate athletic director for communications at UNC, will be on the panel to respond. At a second panel discussion, students and others will discuss the symbols of the South that have created a firestorm of opinion about their meaning and their impact on students. The panelists will explore the law regarding these controversial Southern symbols and the activism surrounding symbols of the South.

Generous funding for the day’s events is provided by Time Warner Cable.


UNC media law graduate publishes in Communication Law and Policy

Pic 2UNC media law graduate Kevin Delaney has had an article published in Communication Law and Policy.  The article is “Balancing in Light of the Purposes of Copyright: Whether Video Music Lessons Constitute Copyright Infringement.”

The article addresses the question of whether it is a violation of copyright law for an individual to create and upload to the Internet a video music lesson in which the creator teaches viewers how to play a copyrighted song. The article argues that the defense of fair use should protect creators of video music lessons from liability in a copyright lawsuit, and specifically that video music lessons further the objective of copyright law – to promote learning.  The article says, in part, “Because video music lessons promote copyright’s aim of creating a more informed populace, our copyright laws should encourage – not detract – from the creation of such works.”

This is the citation for the article: Kevin Delaney, Balancing in Light of the Purposes of Copyright: Whether Video Music Lessons Constitute Copyright Infringement, 20 Comm. L. & Pol’y 261 (2015).

Kevin wrote the article for a course in the UNC School of Law called Copyright and the Music Industry in the Fall of 2014.  In May he graduated from UNC’s dual-degree program, earning a master’s in mass communication and a J.D.  He now works for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Congratulations, Kevin!




Media Law Center Welcomes Prof. Papandrea and a new Ph.D. Student

A senior scholar and a new Ph.D. student have joined UNC’s community of media law scholars.  The Center for Media Law and Policy is happy to welcome Professor Mary-Rose Papandrea and Ph.D. student Shao Chengyuan.

ProfPapandrea3Mary-Rose Papandrea came to the UNC School of Law this summer from Boston College Law School. Her teaching and research interests include constitutional law, media law, torts, civil procedure, and national security and civil liberties.

After graduating from Yale College and the University of Chicago Law School, Professor Papandrea clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter as well as Hon. Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Hon. John G. Koeltl of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She then worked as an associate at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in First Amendment and media law litigation. In addition to spending over a decade at Boston College Law School, Professor Papandrea taught as a visiting professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, Fordham Law School, Wake Forest Law School, and the University of Paris (Nanterre).

Co-author of the casebook Media and the Law (LexisNexis, 2nd ed. 2014) (with Lee Levine, David Ardia & Dale Cohen), Professor Papandrea has written extensively about government secrecy and national security leaks, the reporter’s privilege, student speech rights, the First Amendment rights of public employees, and the U.S. Supreme Court and technology.

Professor Papandrea has also served as the chair of the American Association of Law School’s Mass Media Law and National Security Law sections and remains on the executive committee of both sections. She is currently a member of the editorial board for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy. In addition, she has served on the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

ShaoShao Chengyuan came to the UNC School of Media and Journalism from Beijing, China. She earned a master’s in communication from Beijing Foreign Studies University and a bachelor’s in English from China Agricultural University in Beijing. She has been studying media law issues in China, specifically new media-related legislation and the legal boundaries of online free speech. She also has worked as a television news producer for Spanish TV Etib’s Beijing Bureau. Her research interests include Internet policy and governance, freedom of expression, online anonymity, and government information publicity. She is planning to conduct comparative media law research.





UNC Media Law Students, Faculty Present Research in San Francisco

aejmcThe UNC Center for Media Law and Policy’s director of communications and three graduate students are presenting research papers in the Law and Policy Division at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s (AEJMC) national convention in San Francisco this week.  One of those students also had a media law paper accepted in the Cultural and Critical Studies Division.

The media law center’s director of communications is Tori Ekstrand, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Media and Journalism. Her paper won second prize among faculty papers.

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:

Victoria S. Ekstrand, “A First Amendment Right to Know for the Disabled: Internet Accessibility under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2015. Enacted by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, the ADA was designed to ensure that people with disabilities are given “independence, freedom of choice, control of their lives, the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream.” Title III of the ADA defines what kinds of public and private spaces must provide access and accommodations to the disabled. Missing from that list, because of the ADA’s timing, is the Internet, effectively shutting the disabled out of the rich marketplace of ideas online. This paper examines both the case law surrounding this omission and the foot-dragging of the executive and legislative branches in extending Title III to the Internet. It argues that extending Title III to the Internet may be bolstered by First Amendment right-to-know principles.

P. Brooks Fuller, “The Angry Pamphleteer: The Political Speech-True Threats Distinction under Watts v. United States and its Impact on Twitter” (Brooks is a Ph.D. student in the School of Media and Journalism.)

Since the 1969 Supreme Court case Watts v. United States, courts have consistently held that the government may punish threatening speech so long as it amounts to “true threats” rather than protected political hyperbole. Since Watts, lower courts have enjoyed tremendous flexibility to craft the distinction between political speech and true threats. This paper explores that distinction in the context of violent political expression on Twitter. This paper analyzes how courts have interpreted Watts and finds that lower courts have applied three distinct tests for political speech, which this paper calls 1) criteria-based analysis, 2) pure First Amendment balancing, and 3) line-crossing analysis. This paper concludes that of these three tests, criteria-based analysis is particularly restrictive of speech, particularly when the speech at issue takes place in non-traditional political speech channels such as Twitter. Speakers now use Twitter with increasing frequency to post impulsively and vent to or about public officials, a practice that lies at the core of First Amendment protection. This paper demonstrates that flexible First Amendment balancing and line-crossing analyses, particularly in the context of violent political expression on Twitter, more aptly address these realities.

P. Brooks Fuller, “Pornography, Feminist Questions, and New Conceptualizations of ‘Serious Value’ in Sexually Explicit Media” (in the Cultural and Critical Studies Division) 

During the 1980s, anti-pornography advocates waged a litigious, regulatory war against perceived social ills caused by pornography. A cultural dialogue persisted, questioning the social value of pornography. Proposed criminal regulations of pornography ultimately stalled in American Booksellers v. Hudnut (1985). This paper analyzes post-Hudnut cases under legal and qualitative methodological frameworks and finds that although courts generally assume pornography’s direct media effects, several recent cases reflect pro-pornography feminist conceptualizations of social value.

Kyla P. Garrett, “Penetrating the Public Health Debates in the Adult Film Industry: An In-Depth Case Analysis of the Health-Based Arguments in Vivid Entertainment, LLC v. Fielding” (Kyla is a master’s graduate of the UNC School of Media and Journalism and will enter its Ph.D. program this fall.)

In an effort to curb the spreading of sexually transmitted infections from the adult film industry to the surrounding community, the citizens of Los Angeles County, California, where 80 percent of all pornographic films are produced, passed the Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act in November of 2012. Also known as Measure B, the ordinance requires the use of condoms during the production of all vaginal and anal sex scenes in hardcore porn. Industry leader Vivid Entertainment, LLC, responded by filing suit against Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health in January of 2013 to obtain an injunction against the ordinance, claiming that the measure unconstitutionally infringes on the industry’s and its actors’ First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.  Much of the debate surrounding Vivid Entertainment, LLC v. Fielding concerns the constitutionality of the ordinance, but little discussion reviews the underlying health claims presented in the case and the ordinance itself. This is an important case to explore as it is a case of first impression and could set a key precedent regarding health policy and First Amendment protected expression. The case is also likely to set precedent for future regulations specific to the adult film industry. Therefore, this paper first identifies the health-based arguments presented in Vivid Entertainment, LLC v. Fielding and then, utilizing a public health and health communication lens, analyzes the validity of these arguments to ultimately consider the constitutionality of Measure B.

Nicholas Gross, “Native Advertising: Blurring Commercial and Non-Commercial Speech Online” (Nick is a Ph.D. student in the School of Media and Journalism.)

Mixing advertisement with art, entertainment, news, and/or other content on Internet publications, native advertising straddles the boundary between commercial and noncommercial speech. As a species of digital hybrid speech, native advertising is examined through the lens of case law that has faced the task of separating commercial from noncommercial speech. Because native advertising blurs the commercial/noncommercial speech divide, the Federal Trade Commission must approach policy formation for this new digital practice with an understanding of the commercial/noncommercial speech dichotomy.


Media Law Student Works at NC COA and the Volvo Group

MeThis is the third in a series of posts by UNC media law students reporting on their summer internships.

I spent the first half of my summer working at the North Carolina Court of Appeals as a judicial intern for the Honorable Judge Wanda Bryant.  This job was a perfect fit for me as a former high school English teacher.  A typical day included researching points of law and writing memos for the judge.  I was fortunate to receive extensive feedback from Judge Bryant and her clerks. 

When I wasn’t preparing memos, I attended oral arguments.  I was particularly excited to observe a panel of three judges take on a privacy law issue.  The case involved a man who accessed his wife’s iPhone without her permission by placing her thumb on the iPhone’s Touch ID sensor while she was sleeping.  He then used that information to obtain evidence of her affair.  The panel had to decide whether that evidence was legally obtained and admissible.  Afterwards, in chambers, it was fascinating to hear the judges’ perspectives on how the law should deal with emerging technologies, especially because this topic has been at the forefront of many of the media law courses I have taken at UNC.

After the court’s session ended, I began working as an internal communications intern at the Volvo Group of Companies in North America in Greensboro, N.C.  There’s a lot of research and writing in this position as well, but the content is different.  I assist a small but diverse team of extremely talented and creative individuals in their efforts to enhance employees’ business understanding, build employee engagement, and promote the company’s core values. 

There’s never a dull moment here.  Internal communications projects include filming and producing news segments that keep Volvo employees up-to-date about what’s going on in the company, managing events like the Volvo Ocean Race, and maintaining positive community relations.   Media law is often discussed.   The communication team members have to be careful not to violate copyright or privacy laws as they push boundaries in their field by creating interactive content that informs and inspires employees. 

It’s been an amazing summer!  Through these internships, I have gained a deeper understanding of the law and how it shapes corporate communications. 

Chanda Marlowe is a third-year student in UNC’s dual-degree program (a master’s in communication and a J.D.).