A Guide to Media Law

Law is a legal field that relates to the regulation of telecommunications, privacy, broadcasting, advertising, the entertainment industry, censorship and information technology among others.

As media has developed from print and live performances to the radio, television, movies, mobile devices and the Internet the law has tried to equally keep pace. One of the biggest areas of concern related to media law is intellectual property. The central issues are copyright law, the protection of marks or logos in the media as well as patented technology that the media has created.

Additionally, the First Amendment or the right to free speech, censorship and defamation play another major role in media law. The right to free speech without censorship has been a fundamental right for the United States. This right has only been limited in a few places, and in even fewer places in the media. Americans can see where the mutual agreement to censor or reduce freedom of speech by going to see a movie and having a rating system or forcing songwriters to put explicit lyrics stickers on their work.

Defamation is another big part of media law because of the threat of new technologies spreading untruthful information across multiple sources. When spoken on television or broadcasted this legal term is called slander, and when written it is called libel. One can sue civilly and obtain monetary damages for any losses incurred from the untruthful information.

Media law is centered on the balancing of freedom of speech versus ruining someone’s reputation or putting something in the public that is so obscene it should not be protected. The law in this area is changing as the courts begin to learn more about the countries accepted ideals surrounding the media.

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