Archive | First Amendment

Center to Hire Media Law and Policy Fellow

UNCI’m excited to announce that the Center will be hiring a Media Law and Policy Fellow!  The fellow will play a critical role in supporting a major research initiative at the Center focused on examining various legal and policy issues related to improving government transparency, including the impact government transparency can have on privacy, cybersecurity, equality, and other important interests.

This is a two-year position with a possible renewal for a third year. The salary is $47,476 annually and is accompanied by the standard UNC benefits package and health care insurance for postdoctoral research scholars.

Applicants must hold a J.D. or a Ph.D. We will give preference to applicants with demonstrated interest in the Center’s areas of focus, including journalism, First Amendment, government transparency, and privacy. Applicants should also have experience working with students, organizing events, and managing complex projects. 

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A J.D. and Ph.D.;
  • Knowledge of and interest in the Center’s work;
  • Excellent research, writing, editing, and analytical skills, including empirical legal research experience;
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills;
  • Experience with program planning, administration, and fundraising; and
  • Experience with website, blog, and social media design and content creation.

Applications will be reviewed beginning immediately and will continue until the position is filled. The successful candidate should be prepared to start no later than July 1, 2017, with a potential commencement date as early as January 1, 2017.  

For more information on the position as well as instructions on how to apply, please visit the official position posting on the University of North Carolina’s human resources site, available at: https://unc.peopleadmin.com/postings/108165. You can download a PDF version of the job posting here.

Questions about the position should be directed to medialaw[at]unc.edu.

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Dual-Degree Student Spent Summer on the First Amendment Frontier

lindsieI spent my summer interning in the legal department at the ACLU of Washington State in Seattle, one of the largest ACLU affiliate offices in the country. At the ACLU-WA, I worked on a variety of projects related to First Amendment and other civil liberties issues.

On the First Amendment frontier, my last assignment at the ACLU-WA was to write a letter encouraging a city to abstain from instituting an unconstitutional panhandling ordinance. The proposed ordinance would have made solicitation in the downtown area of the city a crime, in direct contradiction with applicable First Amendment precedent.

I also spent much of my time updating the ACLU-WA’s public education materials on First Amendment and other expression issues. The materials included guides to protest rights, teacher free speech, and initiative signature gathering.

While I wasn’t working on free expression-related projects, much of my time was spent working on Trueblood v. DSHS, a federal class action suit. In Trueblood, Washington State has been found to violate the due process rights of mentally ill individuals by keeping them in jail for months awaiting competency evaluation and competency restoration services. While I was at the ACLU-WA, part of this case was on remand from the 9th Circuit, and I was able to join the team preparing for the remand hearing.

On a more personal note, as a Washington State native, it was great to be in an office in the heart of Seattle and to be near family and friends for a season. I enjoyed the splurges of the West Coast, including many lattes and delicious produce.

Lindsie Trego

Dual-degree student, earning a master’s in mass communication and a J.D. degree

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Media Law Ph.D. Student Spent Summer at the ALA

alaPosted on behalf of Nick Gross, third-year Ph.D. student:

This summer I worked as a Google Policy Fellow at the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) in Washington, D.C. The Google Policy Fellowship gives undergraduate, graduate, and law students the opportunity to spend the summer working for public interest groups engaged in Internet and technology policy issues. As the world’s oldest and largest library association, the ALA represents 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. OITP helps secure information and technology policies that support libraries’ mission to ensure the public’s access to electronic information resources in order to promote a free and open information society.

As a fellow, my primary role at OITP was to prepare tech policy memos to submit to the incoming presidential administration. The goal is to inform policymakers about ALA’s public policy concerns, including why, and to what extent, ALA has an interest in specific tech issues and what the next policies should look like. To that end, I drafted a briefs on telecommunications issues and copyright issues.

The telecommunications brief addresses the importance of broadband Internet to libraries. A robust broadband infrastructure ensures that libraries can continue to provide their communities with equitable access to information and telecommunications services, and to serve residents with digital services and content via “virtual branches.” With funding from the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund (USF), libraries and underserved or unserved communities are better able to afford access to high-capacity broadband. Also, greater broadband competition and local choice increase broadband deployment, affordability, and adoption for libraries and their communities. Opening up more unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi expands broadband capacity so libraries can better serve their communities. Libraries sometimes provide the only Internet access for some communities. Finally, because libraries use the Internet to research, educate, and create and disseminate content, as well as provide no-fee public access to the Internet, they highly value the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which helps guarantee intellectual freedom and free expression, thereby promoting innovation and the creation and exchange of ideas and content.

As copyright lies at the core of library operations, OITP advocates for law that fulfills the constitutional purpose of copyright—namely, a utilitarian system that grants “limited” copyright protection in order to “Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” The copyright brief calls for a balanced copyright system in the digital age that realizes democratic values and serves the public interest. The first sale doctrine enables libraries to lend books and other materials. The fair use doctrine is critical to libraries’ missions, as it enables the “free flow of information,” fostering freedom of inquiry and expression. For instance, the fair use doctrine enables libraries to use so-called “orphan works” without fear of violating the authors’ copyrights. Moreover, libraries are at the forefront of archiving and preservation, using copyright law’s exceptions to make reproductions and replacements of works that have little to no commercial market or that represent culturally valuable content in the public domain. Libraries also enjoy protections against liability under the Section 512 Safe Harbors in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Furthermore, the brief highlights specific challenges that threaten libraries’ mission to provide the public with access to knowledge and upset the careful balance between copyright holders and users. For instance, e-licensing and digital rights management (DRM) under section 1201 of the DMCA limits libraries’ ability to take full advantage of copyright exceptions, from fair use to first sale to preservation and archiving. ALA also advocates the ratification and implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.

In addition to my policy work, Google’s bi-weekly meetings at its D.C. headquarters shed light on the public policy process. At each event, Google assembled a panel of its own policy-oriented employees and other experts from public interest groups in D.C. Topics ranged from copyright law to broadband deployment and adoption to Net Neutrality. During the meetings, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet the other Google fellows and learn about their work.

My experience as a Google Policy Fellow at OITP taught me a great deal about how public interest groups operate and advocate effectively. For instance, I learned how public interest groups collaborate and form partnerships to effect policy change. Indeed, ALA works, or has worked, with groups like the Center for Democracy & Technology to advocate for Net Neutrality.

Not only did I gain a deeper insight into telecommunications law and copyright law, I also developed an appreciation as to how such laws can profoundly impact the public interest. I’d highly recommend the Google Policy Fellowship to any student interested in learning more about D.C.’s policymaking in the tech ecosystem.

Nick Gross

Third-year Ph.D. Student

School of Media and Journalism

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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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!

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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.

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