Welcome Our New Research Fellow, Rachael Jones

The UNC Center for Media Law and Policy is proud to announce that it has hired its first research fellow, Rachael Jones.  Rachael, who started this week, will oversee the Center’s research initiatives, with a particular focus on government transparency.

Prior to joining the Center, Rachael served as the Jack Nelson/Dow Jones Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (“RCFP”). At RCFP, Rachael assisted journalists daily, and primarily focused on state and federal public records act matters. She has presented her research on free speech issues at the Yale Information and Society Project’s Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference for the past two years and served as a panelist for freedom of information topics for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Law and Policy Division. Rachael earned her J.D. with honors from the University of Florida in 2016, where she was a research editor for the Florida Journal of International Law. While at UF Law, Rachael served as a research assistant to Dean Lyrissa Lidsky and as an extern-clerk to the Honorable Stephanie Ray of the First District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida. In addition, Rachael has studied comparative constitutional law and dispute resolution at the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. Rachael received her Bachelor in Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida in 2011 and hails from the Destin, Florida, area.

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UNC Media Law Students Graduating and Launching Careers

Two UNC media law students are graduating this spring and summer and moving on to great jobs in their fields. Both of them defended important research projects to earn their degrees.

Brooks Fuller earned a Ph.D. from the UNC School of Media and Journalism in May and will begin work as an assistant professor in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University this fall.

Chanda Marlowe, a student in the dual-degree program administered by the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy,  earned both a master’s degree from the School of Media and Journalism and a J.D. from the UNC School of Law. In August, Chanda will head to Washington, D.C., to begin work at the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) as the Christopher Wolf Fellow. Her work at FPF will focus on consumer and commercial privacy issues, including projects involving privacy and non-discrimination.

Brooks’s dissertation used legal analysis and ethnographic field methods to better understand the role context plays in both courts’ and protest participants’ determinations of when speech causes harms during high-conflict political protests. The dissertation is titled “Words, Wounds, and Relationships: A Mixed-Method Study of Free Speech and Harm in High-Conflict Environments.”

According to Brooks, abortion clinic protests are quintessential high-conflict speech environments where the limits of free expression are continuously tested by protestors, making such protests ideal places to study free expression and to test long-held assumptions about how speech causes harm. Over an 18-month period, Brooks spent more than 500 hours observing protests at a North Carolina abortion clinic. Brooks also conducted dozens of in-depth interviews with pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates, police, and abortion clinic volunteers, and analyzed the social media and YouTube posts of various individual advocates and organizations.

Brooks’s key finding was that the harms that stem from speech have little to do with protest language. Instead, harms depend largely on the social relationships between the speaker and the listener and whether the speakers adhere to social norms that have developed in their particular protest environment. Brooks found that the world of abortion clinic protesting is carefully choreographed and routine. Through day-to-day routines, protestors develop social bonds with their adversaries that lessen the sting of the harsh rhetoric that characterizes abortion clinic protests. Brooks suggested that these findings reinforce the importance of understanding social relationships in order to better understand speech-related harms.

Brooks’s dissertation also points toward opportunities to advance the understanding of the First Amendment in American society through interdisciplinary scholarship. It is perhaps the first project of its kind to address traditional doctrinal First Amendment questions through a blend of legal and sociological research methods.

Chanda successfully defended a thesis that provides a full landscape of the legal issues surrounding the video surveillance of students in public schools and on public school buses. Her thesis explicated legislation and court decisions regarding the rights of students to challenge school video surveillance and the rights of others to access school surveillance videos once they have been recorded.  It concluded with a set of best practices to help schools strike the proper balance between protecting students’ privacy and keeping schools safe.

Congratulations, Tar Heel graduates!

 

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UNC Law Student Named Finalist in Games Industry Legal Challenge

RileyKathleen Riley, a second-year law student at the UNC School of Law, has been named as one of five finalists in the 2017 Games Industry Law Summit’s Legal Challenge. The international competition, which is based on an actual dispute involving gaming law,  is open to law students and practicing lawyers from all over the world.  Submissions were reviewed by a 6 member jury made up of some of the top gaming lawyers from the United States and European Union. Kathleen was the only finalist from the U.S. and received an invitation to attend the 2017 summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the winners will be announced on April 27, 2017 (1st place will receive a prize of €1,000 and 2nd place will receive €500).

Last year, the Games Industry Law Summit drew over 100 professionals from gaming companies and law firms representing 25 countries, including: US, Brazil, UK, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Spain, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus, Malta, and Luxembourg.

Congratulations, Kathleen, and good luck tomorrow!

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In addition to preparing for her trip to Lithuania, Kathleen was gracious enough to pass along the following information that might be of interest to other students interested in video game law:

IGDAF Women in Games Ambassador Program

Late Dec/early Jan application deadline, the Game Development Conference (GDC) takes place in late Feb/early Mar.  Successful applicants receive a scholarship including an all access pass to the GDC in San Francisco and a stipend for travel. While GDC is mostly tailored to game developers, there are many great legal talks, and lots of opportunities to network with lawyers in the industry. The IGDAF is looking to expand participation in the Ambassador program to business and legal students/professionals.

IGDA Scholars Program

This program is closely related to the Women in Games Ambassador program, but is not limited to women. 

Video Game Bar Association Scholarship Program

This is another writing competition, but instead of being practice-based, competitors submit a paper on a current legal topic related to the video game industry.  The winner receives a $2,500 stipend as well as round-trip airfare, accommodations, and admission to attend the Video Game Bar Association‘s Annual Video Game Law Summit in Los Angeles. The winning submission is also published in the Summit materials book. 

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Video Available for “Freedom of the Press and the Trump Administration”

The video from the Center’s discussion of “Freedom of the Press and the Trump Administration” is now available on Vimeo.  The March 21 event was headlined by George Freeman, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center and former assistant general counsel of the New York Times Co., who discussed the challenges to press freedom that are likely to arise (and have already arisen) under the Trump administration. Mr. Freeman provided opening remarks on this subject and then sat down with Professor Mary-Rose Papandrea, a noted First Amendment expert, for an open-ended conversation that explored the administration’s positions on executive branch transparency, journalists’ access to government officials, whistleblower protections, the scope of defamation law, and respect for journalists, among other topics.

You can view the video here:

 

Freedom of the Press and the Trump Administration from Center for Media Law and Policy on Vimeo.

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Graduating Media Law Ph.D. Student Lands Faculty Position at LSU

Brooks Fuller headshotUNC media law Ph.D. student Brooks Fuller will begin work as an assistant professor in the Manship School of Communication at Louisiana State University in the fall. Brooks will teach classes in media law, ethics, and First Amendment issues.

Brooks will graduate from the Ph.D. program in the UNC School of Media and Journalism in May.

Brooks’s dissertation is titled “Words, Wounds, and Relationships: a Mixed-Method Study of Free Speech and Harm in High-Conflict Environments.” His work uses a mixed-method approach – legal analysis and ethnographic fieldwork – to better understand the importance of contextual analysis in determining whether potentially harmful speech is protected by the First Amendment. Brooks has conducted extensive fieldwork at an abortion clinic, where he observed and interviewed protestors on both sides of the abortion issue.

“I can’t really say enough about how important the growing attention to interdisciplinary research has been in positioning me for the job at LSU,” Brooks said. “Opportunities made available through the Park Fellowship and the Center for Media Law and Policy allowed me to explore outside my discipline and make connections with scholars similarly exploring at other institutions. The mentorship I received from the faculty in the MJ-School helped me find a path that I think will make me truly happy.

Congratulations, Brooks!

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