Tech Ethics and Governance

TechEthicsTomorrow, I will be joining some fantastic colleagues at Duke University to discuss the legal and ethical issues associated with cyber searches and data privacy. The panel is part of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’s “Tech Ethics and Governance: 2019 Conference on the Ethics of Emerging Tech.”  The conference kicks off today at noon with danah boyd, founder/president of the Data & Society Research Institute, who will speak about data ethics and sociotechnical security, and continues tomorrow with a number of panels on subjects ranging from artificial intelligence, algorithmic decision making, predictive analytics, cybersurveillance, to cyberwar.

My panel will be at 10:45 AM in the Ahmadieh Family Conference Room, West Duke, Room 101.  It’s going to be fascinating discussion, moderated by Sara Sun Beale (Duke). The other panelists are Shane Stansbury (Duke), Jolynn Dellinger (UNC & Duke), Richard Myers (UNC), Stephanie Pell (West Point), and Neil Richards (Washington University).

You can read more about the conference here. Please come by if you are in the area.


A UNC Student’s Summer Experience at Screen Media Ventures

FCC1Another beneficiary of the Center for Media Law and Policy’s Summer Grants Program last year was Chelsea Pieroni, a second-year law student at the UNC School of Law. Chelsea interned at Screen Media Ventures in New York.  Her reflections on her summer internship are below (you can read the reflections of other summer grant recipients here).

Last summer I had the opportunity to work as a legal intern for Screen Media Ventures. Located in Midtown Manhattan, Screen Media is an independent film distributor, and it had just been acquired by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (remember those books?) right before I joined. Screen Media primarily focuses on distributing independent domestic and international feature films, and is also known for releasing award-winning documentaries and cult-classic horror flicks; in fact, one of its claims to fame is the third blockbuster of the Jeepers Creepers franchise, and in the last month it has acquired the rights to release Terry Gilliam’s highly-anticipated The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (featuring Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce).

During my time at Screen Media, my hands were all over contracts—specifically, I wrote and edited agreements, amendments to contracts, and notices of assignment (alerting screen writers that their film’s distribution rights had shifted to Screen Media). I also participated in meetings with film writers, directors, and their attorneys. A lot of these tasks came down to negotiating and establishing distribution rights and, consequently, Screen Media’s profit. I also helped other Screen Media team members—involved in acquisitions, sales, and marketing—organize their archives by navigating old contracts, determining the expiration date select agreements, and sprucing up their databases.

Working at Screen Media was an amazing opportunity to get a glimpse into the world of in-house practice. Because the office was relatively small, I was able to be involved hands-on on projects, knew what the rest of the team was working on, and pitched in to help other departments whenever I could. As someone who is interested in pursuing the legal side of the arts, it was interesting to witness in-person the nuts and bolts behind the scenes that are needed to release movies to the public. Additionally, my summer at Screen Media gave me valuable transactional experience that would help me guide my future legal job search.

Finally, this was my first time living in New York City, and I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with it all—commuting by subway, grabbing real bagels for lunch, and having the world’s most fascinating entertainment hubs, museums, and landmarks within a few minutes of my office. While what they say about Midtown is true—it’s loud, packed, and rush hour is ‘round the clock—I could not get enough of taking walks to Bryant Park, grabbing dinner on the Lower East Side, and catching art pop-ups in Brooklyn. My 2018 summer was an incredibly formative experience that has made a huge impact on my future career path—in fact, now I am fully committed to sitting for the NY Bar, and will be returning to the city this summer.


A UNC Student’s Summer Experience at the FCC

FCC1From Morgan Schick, a second-year law student at the UNC School of Law, who interned at the Federal Communications Commission and received one of the Center’s Summer Grants:

Last summer, I interned for the Pricing Policy Division of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. The FCC regulates communications by telephone, radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. Specifically, the Pricing Policy Division is within the Wireline Competition Bureau, and is responsible for regulating the rates charged by telecommunications carriers to ensure that all Americans have access to robust, affordable broadband and voice services.

This internship provided an excellent opportunity to learn about telecommunications and antitrust policy, while experiencing the administrative process firsthand. I spent much of my time researching and drafting memoranda about the separations of jurisdiction between state and federal pricing regulation. This presented an interesting issue, as regulation at the state level is often impractical due to the interstate nature of these services.

In addition, I reviewed and analyzed industry comments on several Notices of Proposed Rulemaking regarding issues such as Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and Inmate Calling Services, or the telephone rates charged at prisons and jails. This presented a unique antitrust issue, as these facilities face no competition, allowing unchecked carriers to charge exorbitant prices to inmates calling their families.

The FCC has a robust intern program. Last summer, over 60 law students interned throughout the Commission’s various bureaus and the Office of General Counsel. Each week, interns were invited to attend a brown-bag lunch with panel discussions of lawyers from various positions—including Chairman Ajit Pai. The FCC facilitated several networking happy hours throughout the summer, and took us to a Nationals game and a tour of the Capitol. In addition, every intern was assigned a in a mentor to help us navigate the world of communications law.

The individuals I worked with at FCC were incredibly smart, and truly cared about helping interns develop professionally. I made invaluable connections with lawyers throughout the industry last summer, including one which led to my internship this coming summer. In addition, I felt as though the work I did was highly substantive, and prepared me for any sort of career in administrative law. I greatly enjoyed my time at FCC, and highly recommend students interested in media, communications, or antitrust law to apply.


A Dual-Degree Student’s Summer Experience at NPR

From Mariam Turner, a fourth-year dual degree student at UNC pursuing a JD and an MA in Mass Communication, who interned at National Public Radio:

This past summer, I had the opportunity to work at NPR in the Office of the General Counsel as the Copyright Legal Intern. NPR is a nonprofit public media organization, headquartered in DC, dedicated to producing unbiased, quality journalism and cultural programming.

During my time there, I was exposed to every type of media law issue that a large news organization deals with on a daily basis. Although my work was generally copyright focused, I was around so many brilliant attorneys who worked in every area of the law that might affect NPR and I learned a huge amount by helping out when the opportunity arose.

Most of the time, I helped answer fair use questions, resolve copyright issues that showed up on various social media sites, and conducted research. I worked with reporters and journalists to help figure out what media they could incorporate into their work without running into copyright issues, and I got a chance to meet so many amazing people during this time – although I will say there is nothing more startling then hearing someone’s voice on the radio and then speaking to them at work!

Besides the work, which was a ton of fun in its own right, I was encouraged to explore DC and go to media law related events whenever possible. I got to visit the National Press Club, have lunch with prominent media law attorneys and scholars, and so much more! I even got to watch multiple Tiny Desk concerts in person!

Overall, NPR was an absolutely amazing place to work, and I was truly sad when the summer ended. I learned so much, and realize that I really do love working in media law. If you ever have the opportunity to work there, or even just take a tour of the building, you should. It’s a wonderful place, filled with wonderful people, and this internship was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had!


The James R. Cleary Prize for Student Media Law and Policy Research 2018 Competition

I am thrilled to announce that the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy will award an annual prize to students who write the best published scholarly articles on media law and policy related topics. The award honors the legacy of James R. Cleary, an attorney who practiced for 56 years in Huntsville, Ala.  He was particularly interested in the communications field and media law issues.  Cleary’s daughter, Johanna Cleary, is a 2004 Ph.D. graduate of the UNC School of Media and Journalism.

The prize competition is open to all college and university students. Up to three winners will be selected, with a first prize of $1,000, a second prize of $500, and a third prize of $250. The prizes will be awarded to the authors of published papers that most creatively and convincingly propose solutions to significant problems in the field of media law and policy, including First Amendment speech and press issues. All methodologies are welcome.

The deadline for submission is April 15, 2019.


  1. The author of the submitted publication must have been enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree-granting program in the United States at the time the article was accepted for publication. This includes, but is not limited to, students enrolled in M.A. and Ph.D. programs, law school (including J.D., L.L.M., and J.S.D. candidates), and other professional schools (including M.B.A. candidates).
  2. The submitted paper must have been published in a law review or peer-reviewed journal during the prior calendar year.
  3. Each student may submit only one entry.
  4. Jointly authored papers are eligible, provided all authors meet the eligibility requirements for the competition. If a winning paper has more than one author, the prize will be split equally among the co-authors. No work with a faculty co-author will be considered.
  5. Each entry must be the original work of the listed author(s). The author(s) must perform all of the key tasks of identifying the topic, researching it, analyzing it, formulating positions and arguments, and writing and revising the paper.
  6. Papers will be evaluated based on a number of factors, including thoroughness of research and analysis, relevance to the competition topic, relevance to current legal and/ or public policy debates, originality of thought, and clarity of expression.
  7. The prize will be monetary. Winners will be required to submit a completed W-9, affidavit of eligibility, tax acknowledgment and liability release for tax purposes as a condition of receiving the cash prize.
  8. In the unlikely event that entries are of insufficient quality to merit an award, the Center for Media Law and Policy reserves the right not to award some or all of the prizes.

Submission Process

  • All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 15, 2019.
  • Entries must be sent via email to medialaw[at] with the following in the subject line: “James R. Cleary Prize Submission: [Name of Author]”
  • Papers should be submitted in Portable Document Format (.pdf).
  • Entries MUST include a signed cover sheet that may be downloaded from the Center for Media Law Policy’s website here.

A review committee comprised of faculty and affiliates from the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy will review the submissions and determine the winning paper(s). The decisions of the committee are final. Winners will be notified and final results will appear on the Center’s website in late spring. Due to the large number of expected entries, the Center cannot contact all non-winning entrants.

Submit your research to win this award!