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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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This book is written from a somewhat unique point of view. I am a practicing media lawyer, in-house with a national news organization, and I also happen to teach media law in journalism school. As an in-house lawyer, I have the opportunity to see how journalists do their jobs and the issues they actually face in their day-to-day workflow. I read court opinions on First Amendment and media law topics, but I am also sensitive to how the principles from those cases need to be applied in real life, to the realities of newsgathering and communication.

This book is intended to help non-lawyers understand the legal issues involved in modern communications and journalism. It is particularly useful for future journalists, who need to be trained in the legal issues that will affect their work; but it is also an excellent guide for anyone who communicates in any capacity: tweeting, Facebooking, commenting, blogging, posting photos, managing public relations, running a website, etc. It’s a training manual for the real world of communications.

I initially wrote this book to address some specific challenges I encountered while teaching media law to journalism students (or non-lawyers, generally). The main challenge is that, without a law school background, it can be difficult to understand some of the more subtle aspects of the cases and how to apply them to various factual scenarios. Issue-spotting can be challenging; students can be confused about the difference between civil and criminal principles; and...

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