"Congress shall make no
law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of
the press." - First Amendment, U.S. Constitution
Freedom of the press is one of
the most fundamental liberties guaranteed in American
society, yet paradoxically, media law can often
be complex and confusing.
In the past, media law has been
separated into two areas - telecommunications
and print - but the explosion of the Internet
and other digital information sources has clearly
reshaped the industry landscape, creating both
opportunities and pitfalls that make having an
experienced and knowledgeable guide paramount.
But first, a little history lesson
to understand why this is so:
The Communications Act of 1934
was first established to regulate interstate and
foreign communications by radio, television, wire,
satellite, and cable in "the public interest."
That is, for the public good. The Federal Communications
Commission is assigned this duty, with specific
bureaus to address specific mediums.
This regulation always remains
within the boundaries of the First Amendment,
which also has been strengthened by laws such
as the Freedom of Information Act, which seeks
to increase the public's access to government
information, and Privacy Act, which ensures Americans
have accurate, relevant and timely access to personal
information maintained by agencies, yet also protects
such private information from certain parties.
If this were not complicated
enough, Congress passed the Telecommunications
Act of 1996 as a sweeping reform of the 1934 Act.
Its goal is, fancy language aside, to make it
possible for anyone enter the communications business
and, once in business, to compete against other
outlets in any market.
A few years later, the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act was established to address
Internet issues and other technologies used to
bypass copy protection devices. The bill was originally
supported by the software and entertainment industries,
and opposed by scientists, librarians, and academics.
These new laws and their dramatic
business and consumer implications are being vigorously
debated in courts across the United States. To
protect your interests and peace of mind, let
our firm navigate these deep and choppy waters