Media Law Matrix

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University of Phoenix Material

Media Law Matrix

After reading Ch. 16 of the text, identify at least five laws relating to media regulation. Explain how the laws affect mass media and the public. Provide a brief description of ethical issues and considerations. Describe how these ethical considerations are related to the laws you have identified.

Mass Media Laws Law Effects Related Ethical Issues
Intellectual Property/ Copyright Laws People with a creative mind who have the legal right to earn a profit for their work by charging for the use of their product. Distribution of another person’s work that is copyrighted without his or her consent is illegal. A programmer from Norway name John Lech Johansen created a cod that allowed him to bypass DVDs encryption and gain access to files-sharing on the internet. At the time, this programmer did not violate any laws that existed but started a huge debate about people being able to download other people’s work. There are some similar incidents with music-file sharing with programs such as Napster.
Free Expression Free expression extends to mass communication and cannot be delayed by the core value of the American government. Government censorship is barred by United States Constitution but the courts have allowed exceptions including utterances that may undermine national security in wartime. The Supreme Court expands censorship prohibition throughout the years. A related ethical issue is during the First World War when American antiwar activists were imprisoned for being antiwar activists. Many of the people appealed this decision and the rulings from the Supreme Court stated that the government can take exceptional prerogatives while the nation is at war. There were similar issues in the beginning of the Patriot Act.
Indecency Indecency revolts many people yet the United States Supreme Court is still struggling with this issue because it is thought the indecency is in the eye of the beholder. A related ethical issue is when the United States Supreme Court rules that pornography cannot be stopped. Because indecency is hard to define, it is extremely hard to regulate.
Defamation When the mass media carry disparaging descriptions and comments, they risk being sued for libel, according to our text. Publications and broadcasts are advised heavily by teams of lawyers to make sure that the wording on such stories does not present anything as a fact that is not completely true. Most people think of celebrities when it comes to defamation, but government officials and political candidates are actually the interesting case to look at when learning about defamation. Government officials and political candidates are considered public figures and courts are willing to excuse false statements as part of robust, wide-open discussions.
Broadening Protection The U.S. Supreme Court’s initial First Amendment decisions involved political speech. The justices had no problem applying protections against government interference to political discourse, which is essential in democracy. It became apparent, however, that a fence cannot easily be erected between political and nonpolitical discourse. Gradually, First Amendment protections have been broadened. The strides of the U.S. Supreme Court in the 20th century for free expression were limited to political expression at first. The justices saw free exchanges of political ideas as necessary for a functioning democracy. Entertainment and advertising initially were afforded no First Amendment protection. They were considered less important to democracy than political expression. New cases, however, made it difficult to draw the line between political and nonpolitical expression.

Select two issues currently in the media—one local issue and one global issue—related to media in society.

Local media issue:

What are the relevant laws related to the issue? In 200 words, explain the legal implications and ethical considerations as they apply to the media’s responsibility.

Social media and education: Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have presented new complications amongst our today’s legal and ethical domain of soaring in education. Their popularity has rapidly increased over the years. Social messages were originally very private, but now all information is easily accessible to the public online. Information is now easily published online to the public, more resources available to students that can influence their attitudes, opinions, and character. Educators struggle with ethical and legal issues involving social media communications and relationships with and among students. A number of basic rights arising under the US Constitution can be implicated in cases involving use of social media – freedom of speech, search and seizure issues, right to privacy, and denial of due process. Freedom of speech issues only exist when governmental action is involved. In one of the leading US Supreme Court decisions in this area, the rule was laid down that student speech may be restricted only when it causes a material disruption or substantial interference with a school’s operations. In the latter case of Bethel School District v. Fraser, the Court ruled that a school was not violating a student’s rights when it suspended a student for the use of crude language in a speech to a school assembly.

Global media issue:

Explain the interaction between mass media and government in this issue. In 200 words, explain the effect of the mass media messages related to this issue on society.

In the United States, we have long valued the freedom of the press as a way to raise public awareness of issues of national importance. Yet, even as the right to a free and independent press continues, it has created a strain for presidents and government leaders who want to influence the public and shape political messages. Presidents have routinely communicated directly with the public, often making use of new technology to do so. At the same time, they have relied on conventional outlets like the news conference and the White House press corps to share policy and answer questions from the media, using journalists as a conduit of information and a stand-in for the American people. Trump has taken to the social media platform known as Twitter. He does not have his tweets overseen by a member of his staff; but rather, sends them out on his own and they are open for public viewing. He has sent some questionable tweets here and there, and even made some offensive comments that have affected the public on a global aspect.

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