Book Summary: Chapter 12

“The law protects people’s personal property, whether tangible (such as a computer or a car) or intangible (such as singing a new song before writing it down on paper or recording it). If a person writes a magazine article, it is against the law to take that content without permission. The law protects what is written on the paper—the author’s expression of his or her ideas. No one but the author may publish that article unless the writer consents. Nor may the article be made into a movie or used in any other way without the author’s permission. Copyright law considers the article “intangible property” and gives the article legal protection” – Chapter Overview

Personal property can be defined in many ways. These can be tangible objects such as a car or intangible like singing a song before writing it down on paper/record it. Either way, there is a code of ethics that journalists must follow when covering a story. Certain laws have been put in place to protect people from other who may intrude on their property. Any way you look at it, there has to be respect.

“Similarly, trademark law protects branding such as product names, advertising slogans, movie and book titles, and cartoon characters. Patent law protects inventions is not discussed at length in this chapter because it generally falls outside the law of mass communication. Patent, trademark, and copyright statutes all are categorized as intellectual property law. Generally, intellectual property laws—particularly patent and copyright statutes—are intended to encourage creativity. Ensuring that people will benefit financially from their creations encourages them to continue being creative. If people could use others’ intellectual creations without permission, there would be no financial incentive to write, paint, or invent” – Chapter Overview

The true question is… How many times do people infringe on others trademarks? Similarly, how many people do not protect themselves by a trademark and are being exposed without even knowing it. Also, what if they do know it but are unable to do anything about it because they do not own the trademark. The ideas of protecting yourself goes hand in hand with every day life, and journalists doing their job. Ask yourself, is this protected? Am I able to use this name?

:A copyright is an exclusive legal right protecting intellectual creations from unauthorized use. Copyright law balances the creator’s right to restrict the use of his or her work and society’s belief that some uses should be allowed without the creator’s permission. The backbone of U.S. copyright law is the Copyright Act of 1976. In 1998, Congress adopted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to incorporate the Internet and digital media more squarely into copyright law” – Chapter Overview

A copyright would work well with non created things. Let’s say you have an idea but need to protect it. You need to utilize the laws of this country and apply for a trademark, patent, or copyright. Familiarize yourself with these options, and utilize them for yourself. and especially when reporting on certain topics and/or people.

Book Summary: Chapter 6

Privacy protection is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly; especially in the eyes of journalists. With the rise of social media, it is easier to share information that may have seemed almost impossible. Reporters tend to dehumanize situations when they have a camera in their face. They must take a moment to realize when they may be going too far.

In this chapter, privacy is talked about with respect to court hearings and public knowledge. When exactly does a crime, regardless of its size, become public knowledge and when is it not needed information.

“The U.S. Congress has adopted privacy laws, but traditionally most of these relate to access to information in government documents. Recent Supreme Court cases (for example, Riley v. California, excerpted at the end of the chapter) focus on privacy and the Fourth Amendment. Two Supreme Court decisions in 2012 and 2013 that explored privacy and the Fourth Amendment (which protects against unreasonable search and seizure) reaffirmed the traditional privacy expectation near the home and unanimously held that physically mounting a GPS transmitter on a car amounts to a search and violates the Fourth Amendment” – Chapter Overview

This text, taken from the chapter overview, is a great reference point for someone wanting to dive a little deeper into the role of the U.S. Government and privacy laws. Over the years, privacy laws have grown so sophisticated that some people fear sharing anything at all. There are so many variances in the laws that when someone does report, they could get in trouble for something that may be against the law.

William Prosser, then the dean of Boalt Law School at the University of California at Berkeley, proposed that invasion of privacy be broken into the four categories we know today: false light, appropriation, intrusion, and private facts.

– Below these four categories are described below:

False Light: Intentionally or recklessly publicizing false information a reasonable person would find highly offensive

Appropriation: Using another’s name or likeness for advertising or other commercial purposes without permission

Intrusion:  Intentionally intruding on another’s solitude or seclusion

Private Facts: Private facts are publicizing private, embarrassing information

Appropriation can be split down even more; the first would be commercialization and secondly the right of publicity. Commercialization is related to famous and ordinary people. Intrusion, on the other hand – is a much broader term. “At first, intrusion was nearly synonymous with trespass, i.e., physical invasion of another’s land or house. Then it came to include technological forms of invasion of privacy. Essentially, the intrusion tort has become a way to sue the media for news-gathering techniques”

The problem with these laws a lot of the time is journalists can be sued for doing exactly what they were hired to do.

Book Summary: Chapter 11

The most important understanding students should take from this chapter is the legal differences among obscenity, indecency, and pornography. Students should realize that obscenity is a carefully crafted legal concept. The Miller v. California definition of obscenity is long and complex, but the government must prove that all of the definition applies to the material in question or the material cannot be found obscene.

“Indecency is a concept applied only to broadcast radio and television (and inconsequentially to leased access programming on cable television). The U.S. Supreme Court provided a definition of indecency in FCC v. Pacifica Corp. The FCC has contracted and expanded the definition over the years, largely reacting to political pressure. Students should be aware of how the Commission has applied the indecency regulations during the last few years. Given an opportunity in 2012 to clarify how to define and apply the indecency ban on broadcast material, the U.S. Supreme Court punted. It ruled only that the FCC could not retroactively apply a new or revised regulation and that the FCC could choose to modify its indecency regulations. As this text is published, the indecency issue remains at the FCC, still unresolved. Because indecency regulations never have applied to cable television, what is seen and heard on cable may differ markedly from broadcast material” – Chapter Overview

Indecency can be seen all over the place. A journalist should practice good ethics every day but not be fearful of backlash for doing their job. Politics has a lot to play in the laws created in this country and the Supreme Court is not new to offers and compelling stories that may sway their decision/interpretation of the laws of this nation. Once again, the FCC can stay busy during this process monitoring who/what/when things happen to who and why. This has no limits as it also applies past in person indecency, but also on cable television.

“Pornography is a generic term used popularly but not by courts. The only exception is child pornography, a term defined in the law and applied by courts. However, pornographic material has been regulated. For example, courts allow cities to use zoning laws to regulate the locations of adult bookstores and theaters in ways zoning laws could not be applied to ordinary bookstores and theaters. In 2014, the Supreme Court explored whether or not the U.S. allows child pornography victims to seek restitution from both the person who created the images as well as those who possess the images. A lower court is reconsidering the issues raised in the Court’sParoline decision” – Chapter Overview

Violence is not obscene, indecent, or pornographic as those words are used. Some people consider it at least as inappropriate for children as is sexual content. As noted in Chapter 3, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that video games communicative content and therefore have First Amendment protection.

Book Summary: Chapter 10

Let’s face it. Social media is running so much of our life that we have almost become desensitized. More and more every day news is being shared by anyone and everyone. The only problem is, how vetted and trustworthy are the sources sharing this information. Chapter 10, dives deeper into electronic media and the effects on journalism and law.

“The First Amendment rights of broadcasters are not equal to those enjoyed by the print media. Spectrum scarcity limits broadcasting to a select few who obtain Federal Communication Commission (FCC) licenses. Courts say this justifies limiting broadcasters’ free speech rights. Courts also point to broadcasting’s pervasiveness and impact on audiences, particularly children. The FCC regulates broadcasting to ensure it operates in the public interest, but the FCC is not allowed to censor broadcasting content” – Chapter Overview

The FCC has a lot of requirements that is place on electronic media, and this can be for the better. For instance, the FCC requires there there is at least three hours a week of children’s related broadcasting on television stations. This is to help promote intellectual/cognitive social/emotional needs.

“Cable television law is complex due to bifurcated jurisdiction. Congress has adopted three major laws affecting cable television. In addition, franchising authorities may adopt cable laws. The franchising process involves difficult negotiations between a cable system operator and a franchising authority. Then cable television is subject to certain content regulation, such as must- carry and re-transmission consent rules, and non-duplication rules. Students need to understand why courts consider these content-neutral regulations and thus apply intermediate scrutiny in examining these regulations” – Chapter Overview

There are plenty of laws that producers must follow, especially on cable television. Each program must follow re-transmission consent rules and non-duplication rules. This will help people stay up to date and have the proper information – not something that has just be completely fabricated.


Book Summary: Chapter 9

“This chapter addresses the fundamental tension between the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press, and the Sixth Amendment right of fair and open public trials. It examines the effects of press coverage of criminal investigations and trials on the ability of society to successfully and fairly prosecute criminals. As such, it offers another illustration of the Court’s continuing struggle to balance competing rights” – Chapter Overview

The largest questions some might have for this might be how big of a deal are the contradictions between each of these amendment rights. Sometimes in our legal system we only allow a certain amount of people to listen in to court hearings. We have a right to know things, but when does it come to it’s end? When does a “right” actually end?

“Media coverage of crime often includes details about the crime scene, evidence, arrests, the character and criminal history of the defendant, and the charges. Some of the information presented in the news may be incorrect or may not be admissible in court. Although the media have a First Amendment right to publish this information, such pretrial publicity may undermine the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial. A fair trial requires impartial jurors and an impartial judge. Media exposure may cause potential jurors to form fixed ideas about the guilt of the defendant before a trial begins. While studies disagree on whether publicity harms juror deliberations and verdicts, courts struggle with the effect of media on court processes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judges must withdraw from proceedings when there is substantial likelihood of a risk of bias. State laws designed to protect the appearance of judicial impartiality by prohibiting judges from taking public stands on issues that may come before them in court are unconstitutional” – Chapter Overview

Before these laws were even in the books, how many cases have gone by where the journalist might have exploited a certain crime scene, evidence, arrests, criminal history, charges, etc. Some things may be not true and that can affect how someone is tried. This can also render a judgement until a further investigation is complete.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to a speedy and public trial before an impartial jury to be held in the district where the crime was committed. The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the right to an open public trial belongs to the public as well as the defendant.

To protect these important components of justice, courts take care in composing juries and in protecting the court’s fair process from external influences, including media. The careful selection of jurors includes both the drawing of a fair cross section of the community and the detailed questioning of potential jurors through voir dire. Judges also use admonitions, instructions, and sequestration to encourage jurors to consider only the evidence presented in court in rendering a verdict. Judges use both civil and criminal contempt citations to force participants in the trial to comply with their orders. On occasion, judges will delay or relocate a trial to overcome impediments to fairness. These remedies are rare because they are expensive and interfere with the right to a speedy trial.

Book Summary: Chapter 8

As noted in chapter 7’s summary, chapter 8 is fairly similar. Chapter 8 focuses on the laws affecting journalists’ attempts to access information. Chapter 9 analyzes the law that addresses whether journalists can be compelled to share information in their possession.

Talking about the widely known subject of “reporters privilege” can’t come with ease, especially when writing for a journalism class.

“It has long been accepted that certain communication between individuals is privileged. This includes when a client speaks to a lawyer and a patient to a doctor. Information is shared in confidence. The law recognizes the unfairness of forcing the lawyer or doctor to reveal information obtained in those conversations. Many journalists and their advocates claim a similar kind of privilege should exist when journalists obtain information from sources, particularly sources that provide information only on the condition of confidentiality. Some argue that the First Amendment freedom of the press clause should be read to grant this privilege. Otherwise, they say, the free flow of information is blocked. To impede the press, the argument continues, violates the First Amendment.” – Chapter Overview

Speaking in confidence is probably one of the greatest comfort feelings we can have as human beings. Sometimes, we share information that was meant to be kept secret but certain people cannot keep things to themselves. Having someone that can keep certain topics in confidence keeps the world going round. This is especially respected in the journalism field. If you cannot be an unidentified source, sometimes the story may never get out there. Your story could help a journalist find another source that could help serve justice or get things set right in other ways.

Data gathered from courts as well as recent high-profile cases, including the year-long prosecution and public pursuit of New York Times reporter James Risen, suggest the thin and sometimes tenuous protections of reporter’s privilege. The Fourth Circuit Court’s decision (in one Risen suit) that there is no First Amendment or common law privilege for journalists forces greater reliance on state shield laws. Shield law rulings are extremely fact-specific, and recent studies indicate that state court contempt citations against reporters are increasing with some news-gatherers spending lengthy stretches in jail. Statements from government agencies, including the Department of Justice, that they issue subpoenas to journalists only as a last resort sometimes ring hollow.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Next up is the supreme court and their opinions about journalists talking the grand jury’s. The Supreme Court was very clear that no reporter’s privilege exists in grand jury situations. When reporters refuse to comply with a grand jury subpoena, they may be charged with criminal contempt of court and sentenced to jail. This is what happened to New York Times reporter Judith Miller in 2005. She followed in the footsteps of many reporters who chose principle over prison.

Does it seem like common sense to not talk to a grand jury during a trial? This might be self deception on your behalf because now, in 2017, this is “old news”. Until that ruling, there may have been abuse of interviews for years upon years. Who knows how many mistrials could have come up because of this!

Book Summary: Chapter 7

Addressing limitations and safeguards in journalism is what chapter 7 primarily focuses in. Some may even say that chapter 8 goes hand in hand with 7, because it talks more about what extent journalists can go to to protect information (including sources of information) once it is obtained.

“A dominant theme in news-gathering law is that journalists have no greater access to information, or to locations where sought-after information may be, than any other person. Thus, the First Amendment freedom of press clause accomplishes virtually nothing for journalists in this area. Laws that govern news-gathering are generally applicable. They apply to everyone in the same way—First Amendment or no First Amendment, journalist or someone else.” – Chapter Overview

This large misconception can be seen from all walks of journalism. Even if you are not a journalist, you have the right to know public information and you still are held to the same standards as a journalists. The first amendment is for all of us, not just journalists.

Something that is also treated equally, is trespassing. Regardless if you are a journalist or any old Joe Shmoe, you need to follow the law. Students likely will be interested in the laws that specifically target news-gathering techniques, especially photography, on private property via drones and even on public property when they seem to harass or potentially harm. At the same time, however, courts are responding to recent protests over police behavior and seizure of cameras with rulings that protect the right to non-disruptively photograph government officials in public.

This problem has been taken with serious concern on both sides of the aisle. Whether you are a government official/agency collecting information about the general public or someone in the public taking pictures of government officials or property – there is a dead lock on who is in the right and who is in the wrong. This is why we hold our trust in the judicial system to justify who is right, wrong, or something else.

Transitioning into something else is inevitable with a chapter like this. A common newsgathering method is recording conversations—face-to-face and via telephone—and visual images. The laws that govern recording are varied, both state-by-state and according to the kind of recording at issue. Chapter 7 provides an overview of these laws.

There are, however, certain circumstances where information must be withheld from the general public. “Access to military operations is limited by the non-public-forum nature of military facilities, the need to protect the security of military operations, and the safety of all involved and the confidentiality of many types of military planning and procedures. However, such limitations on access have sometimes expanded to virtual bans on press contact by military personnel and newsgathering by reporters beyond reliance on military PR. New rules on the use of social media by military personnel may provide some insight into the lives of those individuals but do not clearly enhance access to official military information” – Chapter Overview

Other occasions where the common public may not have access are government hearings. This is where the media comes in handy. They are sometimes granted permission to listen in to meetings and share that with the public, but obviously some things are too confidential.