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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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13. Copyright Law


C H A P T E R T H I R T E E N Copyright Law CONTROVERSY: Do superheroes really have super powers? Yes, if you consider mak- ing tons of money a super feat. Marvel Entertainment, the company that created Spider- Man, the Fantastic 4, the X-Men, and Iron Man, is worth about $4 billion. Now, imagine if your dad co-created many of those comic-book-heroes-turned-Hollywood- box-office-stars, and Marvel didn’t cut your father a share of the blockbuster profits. Would you need a super weapon to get the money due your father? No, just everyday copyright law. In 2010, the heirs of comic book artist Jack Kirby sued Marvel and Disney, its owner, in federal court in Los Angeles. They wanted to regain copyrights to some of Kirby’s artistic creations that helped make the comic book company a pop culture phenomenon by turning its print-based fictional characters to big screen stars. The family wanted about 88% of Marvel’s big screen earnings. Pop culture fans know that Kirby was a creative force at Marvel. That’s not disputed. The case turns on Kirby’s employment status. Was he an independent contractor, as his heirs claim, or merely a freelancer as Marvel argues? Under the Copyright Act’s “works made for hire” provision, the Kirbys will lose their lawsuit if a judge rules that their father was a freelancer. In July 2011, a federal judge in New York ruled for Marvel. But the Kirbys have intel- lectual property lawyer Marc Toberoff in their corner,...

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