Archive | Internet

UNC Media Law Doctoral Student Wins Top Paper Award for NCA 2017

We are pleased to announce that UNC  doctoral student Shao Chengyuan has won the top student paper award from the Communication and Law Division of the National Communication Association (NCA) this year. Chengyuan will present her paper at the NCA’s annual conference in Dallas, Texas in November. Congratulations, Shao!

Chengyuan studies media law in the UNC School of Media and Journalism. She joined the program in 2015 after earning a master’s in communication from Beijing Foreign Studies University and a bachelor’s in English from China Agricultural University in Beijing. She has now studies media law issues in China, specifically new media-related legislation and the legal boundaries of online free speech.

Chengyuan’s paper, which was blind-reviewed in the NCA’s paper competition,  is titled “Internet Defamation in China: Criminal Cases Since the 2013 Supreme People’s Court Judicial Interpretation.” Here is the abstract.

“This paper examines the recent development in Chinese defamation law, specifically the establishment of a 2013 judicial interpretation by the Supreme People’s Court that criminalized Internet defamation. This paper uses the language of Chinese law and analyzes eight Internet defamation cases decided after the 2013 judicial interpretation on Internet defamation. The criminal cases analyzed in this paper showed how Chinese public prosecutors have employed the new legal rules in cases deemed as threats to public order and state interests, as well as how Chinese individuals, acting as private prosecutors, have pursued criminal defamation prosecutions against online speakers. This paper takes into consideration the cultural and historical background of Chinese criminal defamation law and argues that, in addressing the lack of free speech protection under the current criminal defamation law, Chinese legislators need to consider raising the standard of fault for public officials and eventually abolishing the “state interest clause” of the criminal defamation statute.”

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Center Co-Director to Join Discussion of Section 230 and Backpage.com

Media Law Center Co-Director Cathy Packer will participate in a panel discussion following a screening of the documentary I Am Jane Doe on campus next week. The film chronicles the legal battles of three young girls who were trafficked through the advertising website Backpage.com

Packer will join panelists from UNC Project Dinah, Project FIGHT, and the Orange County Rape Crisis Center to discuss the many issues surrounding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the federal law that limits websites’ liability for content that others post on their sites. Section 230 has long been hailed as one of “the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet.” However, the law has been subjected to intense scrutiny since the classified advertisement website Backpage.com escaped liability after it was revealed that some of the site’s users used the site for sex trafficking.

The panelists will address the problems and benefits of Section 230, including recent federal legislation aimed at amending its broad reach. Ultimately, the panel will discus the necessary balance between Internet freedom and user protections.

The event will be held on September 14th at the UNC School of Social Work Auditorium on Pittsboro Street. The screening will begin at 7 P.M. Admission is free. Attendees are encouraged to submit questions for the post-film discussion with the panel via Twitter, using @Project_NO_REST, #IAmJaneDoe. The panel will also take questions live in the auditorium.

For more information about the film, visit its website. If you have questions about the event, contact Jennie Vaughn at jsvaughn@email.unc.edu.

We hope to see you there!

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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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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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