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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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15. Commercial Speech


C H A P T E R F I F T E E N Commercial Speech CONTROVERSY: If a business sells a legal product or activity, can government stop it from advertising that product or activity? What if it is widely accepted that the legal product or activity is a “vice,” such as liquor, alcohol, or gambling? What if the product were sex? In 11 counties in Nevada, customers are allowed to buy the services of pros- titutes employed at state-regulated brothels. But the state severely restricts advertising for paid sex in the 11 counties and bans it in the rest of the state. High Desert Advocate and Las Vegas City Life, owned by Coyote Publishing, and the Shady Lady Ranch brothel, challenged the Nevada advertising ban on First Amendment free speech grounds in a lawsuit filed in 2006. They won at the federal trial level. But the publisher and brothel owner lost in March 2010 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Coyote Publishing, Inc. v. Miller, 598 F.3d 592 (9th Cir. 2010). In a 3–0 ruling, the court upheld the ban. That ruling is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s widely criticized ruling on the constitutionality of bans on advertising of “vice” products and activities in Posadas de Puerto Rico Associates v. Tourism Co. of PR, 478 U.S. 328 (1986). But Posadas is a wobbly precedent. In Posadas, a majority of the Court held that, “the greater power to completely ban casino gambling...

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