More Exciting Opportunities on our Media Law Jobs Board

One of the many resources we offer at the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy is our Media Law Jobs Board. The Jobs Board is updated regularly with both full-time jobs and internships/fellowships in a variety of media law and related fields, including journalism, intellectual property, and business affairs. The Jobs Board serves as a centralized place to find opportunities from all over the world.

Looking for an in-house counsel position at a major media company? Perhaps you need a summer internship and want to do public interest work relating to free speech? Are you hoping to spend a year on a fellowship at a major university, developing and expanding your research? Our Jobs Board has postings in all of these areas, searchable by location, keyword, or practice area. Here are just a few of the jobs currently listed on the Board.

  • Fellowship for the 2019-2020 academic year at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center
    • The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is accepting fellowship applications for the 2019-2020 academic year, providing an opportunity for those who wish to spend 2019-2020 in residence in Cambridge, MA as part of the Center’s vibrant community of research and practice, and who seek to engage in collaborative, cross-disciplinary, and cross-sectoral exploration of some of the Internet’s most important and compelling issues. The fellowship can be in one of several different topic areas, including Education, Libraries, & Digital Humanities; Ethics and Governance of AI; Governance of Technology & the Internet; Internet Health; Justice, Equity, & Inclusion; Media, Democracy, & Public Discourse; Privacy & Security; and Technology & the Law.
  • Summer Internship at NPR’s Office of General Counsel
    • NPR’s Office of General Counsel offers challenging and diverse work assignments for legal interns as it provides legal assistance to all divisions of NPR, handling a wide variety of legal issues including: FCC regulatory and other communications; First Amendment; Internet; various aspects of intellectual property, including music rights, content licensing, copyright, trademark, and patents; nonprofit tax; technology, such as software licensing; employment and labor, including Title VII, labor relations, and other aspects of the employer-employee relationship; and corporate law, as well as contracts in all areas. NPR offers legal internships on a rolling basis throughout the year, with summer applications due in January.
  • Assistant Professorship (Communication Law/Policy) at the University of Oregon
    • The School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon seeks a scholar active in research and teaching in areas such as communication law, communication policy, telecommunication law and policy and the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and press for a tenure-track assistant professor position. The school is accepting applications until the position is filled, so get your application in quickly!
  • Summer 2019 Legal Internship at the Knight First Amendment Institute (Columbia University)
    • The Knight First Amendment Institute is looking for law students to do ground-breaking First Amendment litigation and help in the early stages of building an exciting new free-speech advocacy and research organization. The Institute aim to promote a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, that broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government. The intern’s primary responsibility would be to support litigation, working alongside the Institute’s attorneys on all aspects of litigation, including the exploration of new lawsuits, the research and analysis of legal questions, the development of litigation strategy, and the drafting of factual and legal memoranda, affidavits, and briefs. 1L applications are due January 18, 2019.
  • Summer 2019 Internship at Viacom
    • Viacom seeks Summer 2019 interns in their Business and Legal Affairs department, handling legal matters across various Viacom networks in areas including Digital Business, Employment Law, Series Development and Production, Music Rights and more. Any student enrolled in law school can apply.
  • Music Counsel at Netflix
    • Netflix seeks a seasoned production music attorney to help support their domestic and international expansion strategy. The successful candidate will handle music contract and copyright related matters as they arise, will likely need to dig into local law and practice in various international territories, and should be extremely comfortable working independently, counseling business partners and making decisions that have both legal and business impacts. Ultimately, the Counsel will be responsible for structuring, negotiating and drafting agreements with the composers, songwriters, artists and performers who create music for Netflix’s Original film, series and documentary content and with the record companies and music publishers who license music.
  • The Frank Stanton Legal Fellowship at the Electronic Frontier Foundation
    • The EFF legal fellow will work side-by-side with staff attorneys for two years on the EFF’s active civil liberties litigation docket with the goal of developing a deep grounding in cutting-edge free speech law, and related issues in communications privacy and technology law. Non-litigation responsibilities may include advocacy, public speaking, blogging, media appearances, and work on legislative and regulatory matters related to surveillance and law enforcement. Applicants should be recent law school graduates or law students who will be graduating no later than Spring 2019, and have an interest in developing an expertise in First Amendment issues implicated by new technologies.
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate in Computer Science at UNC-Chapel Hill
    • UNC Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci seeks a post-doc research to work in an interdisciplinary environment to study the social, political and cultural impacts of digital technology, especially with regards to conflict, polarization and instability. Strong research, analysis and writing skills are used and required for this position. This position will assist the PI in studying how digital connectivity, artificial intelligence and the technology industry intersect in terms of social, political and cultural dynamics, with emphasis on Global South but also including Western nations and liberal democracies. There will be special emphasis on the role of surveillance, security and encryption in mediating these dynamics. Applicants must have a Ph.D in Computer Science or a related field.

These are just a few of the job opportunities available on the Center’s Jobs Board. Check the Board regularly for the latest postings.



First Amendment Law Review Symposium: “Sex and the First Amendment”

In a lecture delivered in 2008, University of Chicago professor Geoffrey Stone confessed to the audience that he had been working on a book tentatively titled “Sexing the Constitution,” a project of “reckless ambition.” Almost ten years later, the book has hit the stands, renamed Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century, at a time when debates about sex and religion are more heated than ever. Beginning with a survey of law and sexuality in Greek and Roman
times, the book ends with an analysis of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decisions and their aftermath. The breadth of the work is staggering.

Earlier this year, I wrote a review of Professor Stone’s book in the Michigan Law Review, titled Sex and Religion: Unholy Bedfellows.  I’m thrilled that Prof. Stone will be joining us this coming Friday as the keynote speaker at the First Amendment Law Review’s symposium on “Sex and the First Amendment,” co-hosted by the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, to discuss his book and the many issues sex and religion raise for the First Amendment.

At a time when debates about sex, religion, and the law are more contentious than ever, the First Amendment Law Review is hosting some of the nation’s top constitutional law scholars to consider a wide-range of free speech, free exercise, and establishment clause issues. In addition to discussing the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and NIFLA v. Becerra, the symposium will address a broad array of topics relating to sex, sexuality, and religion, including but not limited to the constitutionality of conversion therapy legislation and other restrictions on professional speech; changes in communications technology that have undermined efforts to control explicit sexual images, including revenge porn and sex trafficking; the ongoing debate about whether Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act should be amended or repealed; the regulation of sexually oriented businesses; the constitutionality of the Federal Communication Commission’s ongoing regulation of “indecency” in broadcast radio and television; and the fascinating history of all of these laws.

The symposium will take place on November 16 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM at the Carolina Club at the University of North Carolina. There is a modest registration fee, but students can attend for free. For more information on the symposium, please visit the Center’s event pageTo register, please go here


Political Lies, Internet Free Speech, and Compelled Decryption: Emerging Scholarship in Media Law

This blog post is part of a continuing series examining some of the latest academic scholarship in media law-adjacent fields! Stay tuned for biweekly updates.

In “Legislating Against Lying in Campaigns and Elections,” 73 Okla. L. Rev. 141 (2018), Professor Joshua Sellers at Arizona State University School of Law examines the “harmful” practice of lying during campaigns, finding three specific circumstances where the Supreme Court may uphold a statutory prohibition on intentionally false political speech. From his abstract:

Political speech receives robust protection under the First Amendment, but lying in campaigns and elections is harmful to democracy. In light of the former, what can be done about the latter? In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in United States v. Alvarez, the answer to the question is uncertain. In Alvarez, six Justices supported the conclusion that intentional lies are protected under the First Amendment. The decision renders existing laws regulating intentionally false campaign and election speech extraordinarily vulnerable.

In the following Essay, I consider three circumstances in which narrowly drawn campaign and election speech restrictions are doctrinally defensible. The first is when foreign nationals, during a campaign or election, engage in intentionally false speech expressly advocating for or against the election of a candidate. The second is when intentionally false speech is used to undermine election administration. And the third is when a campaign or outside political group intentionally falsifies a mandatory disclosure filing. Aside from quite limited circumstances such as these, it is exceptionally difficult to craft novel campaign and election speech restrictions that can survive a First Amendment challenge.

Is the Internet truly the “ultimate promoter” of freedom of speech and expression? Moran Yemini, Visiting Fellow at Yale’s Information Society Project, explores the contradiction of the Internet as both vehicle of access and denier of liberty in “The New Irony of Free Speech.Colum. Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2019). From the abstract:

In his The Irony of Free Speech, published in 1996, Professor Owen Fiss argued that the traditional understanding of freedom of speech, as a shield from interference by the state, ended up fostering a system that benefited a small number of media corporations and other private actors, while silencing the many, who did not possess any comparable expressive capacity. The conventional wisdom is that by dramatically lowering the access barriers to speech, the Internet has provided a solution to the twentieth-century problem of expressive inequality identified by Fiss and others. As this article will demonstrate, however, the digital age presents a new irony of free speech, whereby the very system of free expression that provides more expressive capacity to individuals than ever before, also systematically diminishes their liberty to speak. The popular view of the Internet as the ultimate promoter of freedom of expression is, therefore, too simplistic. In reality, the Internet, in its current state, strengthens one aspect of freedom (the capacity aspect) while weakening another (the liberty aspect). It trades liberty for capacity. The article will explore the process through which expressive capacity has become a defining element of freedom in the digital ecosystem, at the expense of liberty. The process of diminishing liberty in the digital ecosystem follows along six related dimensions explored in this article: interference from multiple sources; state-encouraged private interference; multiple modes of interference; new-media concentration; lack of anonymity; and lack of inviolability. The result of these liberty-diminishing dimensions of our current system of free expression, taken together, is that while we may be able to speak more than ever before, we are not able to speak freely.

Orin S. Kerr, Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, proposes a simple test for weighing a suspect’s Fifth Amendment right in the face of forced decryption of a phone, computer or file in “Compelled Decryption and the Privilege Against Self-Incrimination.” Tex. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2019). From the article’s abstract:

This essay considers the Fifth Amendment barrier to orders compelling a suspect to enter in a password to decrypt a locked phone, computer, or file. It argues that a simple rule should apply: An assertion of privilege should be sustained unless the government can independently show that the suspect knows the password. The act of entering in a password is testimonial, but the only implied statement is that the suspect knows the password. When the government can prove this fact independently, the assertion is a foregone conclusion and the Fifth Amendment poses no bar to the enforcement of the order. This rule is both doctrinally correct and sensible policy. It properly reflects the distribution of government power in a digital age when nearly everyone is carrying a device that comes with an extraordinarily powerful lock.

Come back soon for another update!

Research graphic by Nick Youngson licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 from Alpha Stock Images.


Media Law Dual Degree Programs at UNC-Chapel Hill

Hey students, have you thought about what you want to do after you graduate with your undergraduate or master’s degree? Thinking about law school and a career in media law and policy? A strong background in law and mass communication can be a launching pad for a career in law, media, business, entertainment, government, public policy or academia. For a sampling of the jobs available in these growing fields, check out our Media Law Jobs Board.

The nationally renowned UNC School of Media and Journalism and UNC School of Law have brought together these two dynamic fields to offer two exciting dual degree programs in media law and policy that allow students to earn simultaneous M.A./J.D. or Ph.D./J.D. degrees in less time than it would take to earn the individual degrees separately (an earned master’s degree is required to apply for the dual Ph.D./J.D. degree program). Students who apply to the dual degree program can use their LSAT score in lieu of the GRE for admission to the M.A. or Ph.D. program. Dual degree students often work with the Center for Media Law and Policy and receive extensive mentoring from the Center’s affiliated faculty.

We will be holding two information sessions for the Dual Degree Program over the next two weeks.  The first, which is geared primarily for current law students, will take place on October 22 at 5:00 PM in Room 5048 at the UNC School of Law.  The second session will be on October 29 at 5:00 PM in the Freedom Forum Conference Center in Carroll Hall at the UNC School of Media and Journalism. For more information on the October 29 session, please see our separate event listing.

Anyone interested in joining the active and vibrant media law community here at UNC is invited to attend either session. Members of the program’s faculty and current dual degree students will be there to answer questions. Pizza will be served!


Government Whistleblowers, Online Freedom of Expression, and Twitter as a Public Forum: Emerging Scholarship in Media Law

This blog post is part of a continuing series examining some of the latest academic scholarship in media law-adjacent fields! Stay tuned for biweekly updates.

In “Whistleblowing Speech and the First Amendment,” 93 Ind. L.J. 267 (2018), Professor Ronald Krotoszynski Jr. at the University of Alabama School of Law offers an intriguing argument that federal courts should consider whistleblowing speech by government employees in the context of its “critically important” contribution to government accountability and voter information. From his abstract:

Alexander Meiklejohn, the iconic First Amendment scholar who expounded the democratic self-government theory of the freedom of speech, posited that for democratic self-government to function, the voters themselves must possess the information necessary to hold the government accountable. Yet, the information necessary for the citizenry to render wise electoral verdicts not uncommonly belongs to the government itself, and government officials often prove highly reluctant to share information that reflects badly on them and their work. The lack of critically important information about the government’s performance makes it difficult, if not impossible, for voters to hold government accountable on Election Day. To date, the federal courts have failed to recognize the crucial role that government employees often play in providing voters with the information necessary to make wise electoral decisions. The Connick/Pickering doctrine conveys only modest protection on government employees who engage in whistleblowing speech. Moreover, this doctrine fails to take into account directly the value and importance of whistleblowing speech to voters. Whistleblowing Speech and the First Amendment calls for the recognition of a new subcategory of government employee speech, whistleblowing speech, and proposes more rigorous First Amendment protection for such speech. Simply put, contemporary First Amendment theory and practice fails to provide sufficient protection to government employees who engage in whistleblowing speech that calls the body politic’s attention to wrongdoing, corruption, and malfeasance within government agencies. If we want government employees to speak, rather than remain silent, stronger constitutional medicine than Connick/Pickering will be required.

This Article constitutes part of a longer, book-length project, The Disappearing First Amendment, which Cambridge University Press will be publishing in 2019. The book will show how, in a variety of important contexts, free speech rights have contracted, rather than expanded, under the Rehnquist and Roberts Courts. Salient examples include the speech rights of government employees, as well as access to public property for expressive activities, the speech rights of students and educators, transborder speech, and newsgathering and reporting activities. The book posits that antipathy toward judicial discretion in free speech cases provides a partial explanation for the contemporary Supreme Court’s inconsistent protection of First Amendment rights, as does a more general willingness to tether First Amendment rights to the ownership of property.

How should social media platforms balance moderation of offensive content and freedom of expression? Professor Evelyn Aswad at the University of Oklahoma School of Law explores potential options for companies like Twitter and Facebook in her article “The Future of Freedom of Expression Online.” 17 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 1 (forthcoming 2018). From the abstract:

Should social media companies ban Holocaust denial from their platforms? What about conspiracy theorists that spew hate? Does good corporate citizenship mean platforms should remove offensive speech or tolerate it? The content moderation rules that companies develop to govern speech on their platforms will have significant implications for the future of freedom of expression. Given the prospects for compelling platforms to respect users’ free speech rights are bleak within the U.S. system, what can be done to protect this important right?

In June 2018, the United Nations’ top expert for freedom of expression called on companies to align their speech codes with standards embodied in international human rights law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. After the controversy over de-platforming Alex Jones in August 2018, Twitter’s CEO agreed that his company should root its values in international human rights law and Facebook referenced this body of law in discussing its content moderation policies.

This is the first Article to explore what companies would need to do to align the substantive restrictions in their speech codes with the key international standard for protecting freedom of expression. The Article concludes it would be both feasible and desirable for companies to ground their speech codes in this standard though further multi-stakeholder discussions would be helpful in clarifying certain issues that arise in translating international human rights law into a corporate context.

Dawn Carla Nunziato, Professor of Law at George Washington University, examines the “public forum doctrine” as applied to social media pages of politicians in “From Town Square to Twittersphere: The Public Forum Doctrine Goes Digital.” 25 B.U. J. Sci. & Tech. L. (forthcoming 2019). From the article’s abstract:

Government officials like President Donald J. Trump and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan are increasingly using popular social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to connect and interact with their constituents and to solicit public comment on matters of public importance – whether on officially-designated government platforms (like or on unofficial platforms used for the same purposes. In recent years, government officials have increasingly turned to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook in place of (and in addition to) actual town halls and other real-space forums to solicit public participation in policy formulation and to engage with their constituents. When such interactions between government officials and their constituents occur in real space like town halls, they fall comfortably within the scope of the First Amendment’s public forum doctrine, which provides strong protections for freedom of speech and assembly, and prohibits government officials from discriminating against or silencing speakers based on their viewpoint. However, when such interactions take place in cyberspace — on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook — the application of the First Amendment’s public forum is somewhat less clear. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are privately owned, which raises issues for the application of the First Amendment’s public forum doctrine. The public forum doctrine (which provides the greatest protection for free speech in general, as well as against content and viewpoint discrimination) traditionally applies to government-owned or government-controlled — not privately-owned — property. The private ownership of social media sites also raises issues for the application of the First Amendment’s state action doctrine, which provides that the restriction of speech by and through private actors does not implicate the First Amendment except in narrow, limited circumstances.

This Article examines whether and to what extent government officials’ use of social media sites to interact with their constituents constitutes a public forum and what this forum analysis means for the ability of government officials to block or censor constituents on their social media sites. Such issues have recently arisen in the context of President Donald Trump’s blocking of constituents with whom he disagrees on his @realDonaldTrump/Twitter account. Similar issues have arisen in the context of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s and Virginia County Commissioner Phyllis Randall’s blocking of constituents on their Facebook pages, in response to being asked challenging questions. The recent Supreme Court case of Packingham v. North Carolina sheds some light on the application of the public forum doctrine to social media sites and the use and misuse of such sites by government officials. In particular, Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the Court in Packingham extends his functional, expansive conception of the public forum doctrine to non-traditional forums that function as forums for public discourse. In Part I of this Article, I examine in detail the circumstances surrounding recent incidents in which government officials have blocked constituents from following them on Twitter and from commenting on their Facebook pages. Part II undertakes an analysis of the historical development of the public forum doctrine, its recent development in the digital age, as well as the government speech doctrine and the contrast between public forums and government speech. In Part III, I apply the forum analysis developed in Part II to the recent incidents of government officials’ blocking constituents from accessing their social media sites, with an in-depth analysis of the Trump/Twitter lawsuit in particular, and conclude that such social media sites constitute public forums in which viewpoint discrimination is illegal. Part IV provides suggestions to government officials for developing policies governing social media accounts that comply with the dictates of the First Amendment, and a brief conclusion follows.

Come back soon for another update!

Research graphic by Nick Youngson licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 from Alpha Stock Images.