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Mass Media Law

The Printing Press to the Internet

Arthur S. Hayes

Digital media law is now the dynamic legal territory. Mass Media Law: The Printing Press to the Internet is a textbook designed to introduce students to the panoply of legal theories raised by the Internet revolution as well as those supporting traditional media. The book takes a historical approach beginning with the printing press and the telegraph and proceeding to the digital technologies of today, such as social media and search engines. Concepts such as defamation, broadcast regulation, privacy, and free expression are covered along with new media legal theories including Internet exceptionalism, cyber libertarianism, and digital speech and democratic culture. These are introduced to explain why traditional theories such as First Amendment medium-specific analysis, common carriage, and network neutrality are just as relevant today as they were in the early twentieth century. In order to help readers develop critical reasoning skills, each chapter opens with a highly readable realworld vignette and goes on to identify and explain legal doctrines and tests. Key passages from court opinions are highlighted, and each chapter closes with a list of online media law resources and thought-provoking questions, including legal hypotheticals, to give readers a solid understanding of the area in question. Mass Media Law is designed to be the main text and a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate courses covering media, mass communication, free expression, and journalism law.


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1. Principles of Legal Reasoning and First Amendment Theory


C H A P T E R O N E Principles of Legal Reasoning and First Amendment Theory CONTROVERSY: It wasn’t California Senator Leland Yee’s intention to trigger a catalyst that would change First Amendment media law. But when he introduced a bill banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors in 2005, the final outcome would be the landmark ruling Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011). A landmark ruling creates a new and significant principle in a particular area of the law; such a ruling alters the legal landscape. Brown v. Entertainment Merchants is landmark because the Court said the First Amendment gives full protection to the video gaming medium. That declaration also set a legal precedent—a standard that lower courts must apply to cases raising the same legal questions. (All landmark rulings set precedents, though all legal precedents are not landmark rulings.) Now, because the U.S. Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority in the U.S., federal and state laws ban- ning the sale of violent video games to minors are presumed to infringe upon video game merchants’ and minors’ First Amendment free speech rights. It’s a presumption only because there is a remote chance that a legislature could craft a law restricting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors that would pass the Court’s toughest level of constitutional review, strict scrutiny. In reaching its decision to strike down the California law, the Court relied on precedent,...

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