Tag Archives | Student Jobs

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



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!


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.). 


Media Law Student Working for FIRE in Philadelphia

Lindsie-2This is the second of a series of posts by UNC media law students reporting on their summer internships: 

I’m nearing the end of my summer working as a legal intern at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-profit watchdog protecting freedom of expression and other civil liberties on college campuses. As a First Amendment nerd and education policy junkie, I have loved every minute of my job.

There has been no shortage of work to be done at FIRE. Within my first few weeks, I was teaming up with FIRE’s other legal intern and Student Press Law Center staffers to draft an amici brief in support of a college student who had been expelled from school for tweeting insults about his ex-girlfriend. Right now, I’m researching relevant law and developing arguments that can be applied when a college indirectly retaliates against a student publication by disciplining its adviser. Other assignments have had me doing long-term research about due process and writing about First Amendment retaliation cases for the FIRE blog.

This week, I witnessed UNC-Chapel Hill becoming one of fewer than 25 colleges nationwide that FIRE rates as “green light” for its speech codes. This means that Carolina is among the best of the best in demonstrating a commitment to protecting students’ right to free speech (and it also means we’re beating Duke, which is still stuck at a yellow light). After having been a “yellow light” school since 2008, Carolina earned its new rating by revising multiple speech codes, including a vague policy banning speech that “disparages” another. Carolina had been a “red light” school prior to 2008.

I get giddy when law and social criticism meet, so I appreciate that FIRE doesn’t approach censorship solely as a legal concept. Instead, FIRE sees it as a societal issue with broad consequences. When I’m not researching legal questions, I’m engaging in conversations about pluralism, civic engagement, and media literacy – all of which are harmed when student expression is stifled.

FIRE’s office is in the heart of Philadelphia, across the street from Independence Hall and only two blocks from the Liberty Bell. Since I am lucky enough to live just four blocks from the office in a small, historic townhouse, I have had ample opportunity to explore and be entrenched in the history of the city.

This internship has been a fantastic way to learn more about First Amendment and education law while putting my skills and passion to work on real-life cases.

Lindsie Trego

Second-year student in UNC-CH’s dual degree program, earning a master’s in mass communication and a J.D.


Media Law Student Working for ACLU in New York City

NatashaThis is the first in a series of posts by UNC media law students reporting on their summer internships:

I work with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology (“SPT”) Project in New York City on all kinds of digital speech and privacy issues. On the privacy side, I’ve helped with SPT’s efforts to protect against warrantless collection of cell phone location data and suspicionless surveillance in public places. I also drafted ACLU’s comments on the increased collection of biometric data (fingerprints, iris scans, facial recognition photos, and photos of tattoos, scars, and marks) at U.S. border crossings. On the speech side, I’m helping the ACLU fight state laws that threaten online anonymity.

One great thing about working at the ACLU is that it houses so many different projects addressing important civil rights and civil liberties issues. This allows us to collaborate when, for example, a privacy issue also presents racial justice and criminal justice problems. This is great for me because I’m interested in how surveillance disparately impacts minority and low-income communities. I’m learning a lot!

Natasha Duarte is a fourth-year student in UNC’s dual-degree program (a master’s in mass communication and a J.D.).