Archive | Commercial Speech

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!

0

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.

0

New Media Law PhDs

UNCThe UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication will welcome three new media law students to its Ph.D. program this fall.  All of them have expressed interest in working in the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy.  Welcome, law dawgs!

These are the students and a brief description of each student’s background and research interests:

Nicholas Gross.  Coming to Carolina from San Jose, Calif., Nicholas earned a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations from the University of California, Davis. Currently Nicholas is a legal research attorney for The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara. He also has been a staff attorney with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, GaHis research interests include freedom of expression, internet policy and governance, advertising, intellectual property law, privacy and security law, and telecommunications regulation.

Taeho Lee.  A native of Korea, Taeho earned a J.D. from Emory University and a bachelors in communication from Seoul National University in Korea. He has practiced law in Nashville and Chattanooga, Tenn., and he has advised Fox Television Stations Inc. in Atlanta on diverse legal matters, including state shield laws. He also has assisted lawyers in drafting copyright license agreements between cable networks in Atlanta. He is interested in studying the relationship between protection of privacy, freedom of expression, and potential harm from offensive speech (e.g., violent, indecent, and racially discriminative speech).

Kristen Patrow is coming to Carolina from Minneapolis, Minn. She earned a master’s degree in mass communication from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s in journalism from Bethel University. She has been a teaching assistant for several journalism courses at the University of Minnesota and guest lectured in classes. Her professional experience includes being an events coordinator and social media associate for Christians for Biblical Equity. She organized conferences and wrote articles for newsletters and magazines. She is planning to study media law, especially the First Amendment and how low-value speech, such as pornography, contributes value to a community.

0

FAA Approves First Commercial Drone Flight Over US Land

Drone

Picture of the Puma AE

In the words of famed, fictitious race car driver Ricky Bobby: “if you ain’t first, your last.” Future commercial drone users might prefer to come in second, but first place belongs to BP, as they received the first ever FAA clearance to fly a drone over domestic land for commercial purposes. While ConocoPhillips was approved for a drone flight towards the end of last year, that flight was only approved over water.

Don’t think this is going to cause widespread changes just yet. As the article points out, BP had to comply with very strict standards and policies in order to get approval. Still, they received FAA approval and their Puma AE drone and its 9.2 foot wingspan was up and flying on June 8. Strict guidelines or not, this approval is definitely a big development in the future of commercial drone use.

(Picture directly from Aerovironment website (the company that produces the Puma AE))

(h/t to my father, Roger Hannah, for alerting me to this story)

0

Students Presenting at AEJMC Conference in August 2014

AEJMC LogoThree Carolina students have had media law research papers accepted by the Law and Policy Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) for presentation at the group’s annual conference in Montreal in August.  Congratulations!

These are the authors, theory paper titles, and their paper abstracts:

Kevin Delaney, a student in the dual-degree program earning a J.D. and a master’s in mass communication, wrote “Rube Goldberg-Like Contrivances and Broadcasting:  The Litigation Challenging Aereo.”

Abstract:  The broadcast industry has been abuzz over Aereo, a company that streams broadcast content without a license over the Internet to subscribers.  The nation’s broadcasters have sought to enjoin Aereo by arguing that Aereo’s service violates their right under the Copyright Act of 1976 to perform works publicly.  This paper explores Aereo’s service in the context of the public performance right and offers an argument for how courts should interpret the public performance right.

Kylah Hedding, a Roy H. Park Fellow and Ph.D. student in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, wrote “Does Access to Environmental Information have a Critical Problem?:  Interpretation of FOIA’s Exemption 4 after the Critical Mass III Decision.” This paper won a prize for being the second best student paper in the Law and Policy Division.

Abstract: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one of the top agencies to invoke Exemption 4 when denying FOIA requests, which exempts from disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.” However, the exemption provides no definitions for these key terms, which has been problematic for federal agencies and forced the federal appeals courts to define them. The first major case to establish an Exemption 4 precedent was National Parks v. Morton decided by the District of Columbia Circuit in 1974. The second major case, which either clarified or overturned this precedent, depending on which legal scholar is writing about it, was Critical Mass v. NRC decided in 1992 by the same federal appeals court. This paper examines how Critical Mass v. NRC has influenced the interpretation of Exemption 4 by the federal appeals courts.

Brooks Fuller, another Roy H. Park Fellow and PhD. student in the J-School, wrote “Evaluating Intent in True Threats Cases:  The Importance of Context in Analyzing Threatening Internet Messages.”

Abstract:  Following the Supreme Court’s most recent ruling on the true threats doctrine, Virginia v. Black (2003), significant conflict emerged among the federal circuit courts. The primary issue is whether an objective or subjective standard should apply to statutes that criminalize threats.  Speakers’ use of social networking websites and Internet forums for the purposes of posting violent and intimidating communications raises significant questions regarding the posture of the true threats doctrine and its application to modern modes of communication.  This paper utilizes legal research methods to examine federal courts’ treatment of Internet threats and highlights aspects of Internet speech that are particularly problematic for the doctrine.  Ultimately, this paper calls for the Supreme Court to revisit the true threats doctrine in light of significant inconsistency among the circuits regarding the impact of the Internet on recipients of threatening communications.
Papers for this national competition are double-blind reviewed, and student papers compete for acceptance on equal footing with faculty and co-authored papers.

All these paper were written for media law classes in the Journalism School.

0