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Media Law

A Practical Guide (Revised Edition)

Ashley Messenger

Media Law: A Practical Guide (Revised Edition) provides a clear and concise explanation of media law principles. It focuses on the practical aspects of how to protect oneself from claims and how to evaluate the likelihood of a successful claim. This new edition has been revised to reflect important changes and updates to the law, including recent developments relating to scandalous trademarks, embedding, fair use, drones, revenge porn laws, interpretation of emoji, GDPR, false statements laws, lies, and the libel implications of the #MeToo movement.

Media Law is divided into five sections that help non-lawyers understand how the principles apply to their actual behavior: background information about the legal system; things you can be sued for; how you actually gather information; ways the government can regulate speech; and practical issues that are related to media law. This book is perfect for courses in media and communications law or a combination course in journalism law and ethics, as it covers both the legal and ethical aspects of communication.

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1 Court Systems, Citation, and Procedure


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Court Systems, Citation, and Procedure

There is some basic background information about the legal system that is necessary to understand the rest of the information in this book. This chapter outlines such material, including:

1. The two court systems used in the U.S. and how they relate to one another

2. The two primary kinds of cases: civil and criminal

3. The different sources of “law” and how to find them

4. The concept of precedent, which is why understanding case law matters

The Two Court Systems

The United States has two court systems: federal and state. These systems are separate but symmetrical. Each system has trial courts, appellate courts (meaning a court to which there is an automatic right of appeal), and a supreme court (meaning the highest level court to which an appeal is possible within the system).

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