term paper – communications law

Due Friday, Dec. 4 by noon

8 – 10 pages typed. The page count does not include: title page, blank pages, charts, diagrams, indexes, appendices, footnotes or bibliographies.
Double spaced, standard margins, 12 point type/font suggested. 

Content: Paper should focus on historical, political, or social impact of law/cases/trends in law on communication, journalism, the industry, and/or communicators. 


Title page: title, your name, date

Documentation: Bibliography containing a minimum of 10 different sources, in proper bibliographic style. Most people are using MLA style these days, but APA or Chicago style are acceptable. LEXIS-NEXIS and EBSCO HOST are not sources. They are databases where you may find sources. If you are including links, I do not need 10 lines of code, but the author, the title of the article, the publication and the date of publication need to be included.

Case citations: All cases referred to by name must be cited in your paper. First reference should include full citation information, i.e., (Smith v. Jones 326 US 541 (1945.)) or for newer cases, you may use the Lexis-Nexis registry number (example: 99-1057 Lexis.) Subsequent references may be shortened to (Smith, 548.) That means the portion you are citing was on page 548 of the decision. If there are similar cases, i.e. involving the same parties, it might be necessary to use a different citation form. Ask me about that individually. If you are using a copy of the case with un-numbered pages, refer to the actual page on your copy, i.e., page 1, page 2, page 3 etc., or count the number of paragraphs. If you are using a PDF of the original case, the page numbers on the document are the ones you should use. 

The source of all quotations must be properly acknowledged. All paraphrasing must be acknowledged. When in doubt, acknowledge the information. Try to avoid quotes that are more than 8 lines long. Do not incorporate charts into body of the paper. If you wish, you may add that material in an appendix at the end of the paper. 

Possible topics: You may choose your own from this list, or you may create another topic of your own. You must tell me your topic. Topic cannot be focused on broadcasting, except in general terms. 

• Shopping malls, street corners, city streets, airports: protections for and regulations governing free speech. 

• Detailed Comparison of Phelps/Snyder and Falwell/Flynt/Hustler cases
(Intentional infliction of emotional distress issue)

• Rolling Stone and the University of Virginia Libel case

• Jesse Ventura libel case
• Gawker libel case

• Student press censorship: From Tinker v. Des Moines to present

• Libel on the Internet OR Free Speech on the Internet

• Veggie libel 

• Lindbergh kidnapping/Hauptmann trial and impact on media

• Cameras in Court from Hauptmann to today

• Frank Snepp v. U.S.

• Sheppard v. Maxwell

• Judith Miller/NYTimes/Scooter Libby shield law case (Bush admin.) 

• President Trump and Libel Laws (why does DT want laws changed, can any president change them?) 

By Nov. 30, you must give me at least a one-paragraph summary (3 sentences) of what your project is. In addition, include 2 lists: a list of at least 4 sources (in proper style) that you are using in your research, and a list of the cases you are writing about or referencing in the paper. I will make this an ungraded assignment in Canvas, so you can upload it there. The sooner you provide this information, the sooner I can respond, so don’t wait until the last minute if you don’t have to. I will look at outlines or first drafts, but you must get those to me asap, but no later than Dec. 2. (If any are submitted, I will read them as soon as I can and give feedback.) 

Below are the suggested topics. If there is a topic you would like to write on, and it is not listed here, you must let me know what the topic is before you start working on it. If your topic is not approved, you’ll automatically get an F on the paper. I won’t even read it. 

• Detailed analysis of Radicals cases, Schenck, Abrams Gitlow and the Montana sedition cases. Can the Radicals be compared to contemporary groups like the Proud Boys/Black Lives Matter/Antifa? Could they be charged with sedition? 

• Internet Speech: Can or should Facebook/Twitter/any social media outlet be held responsible for what they put on their platforms? Should Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 be eliminated or changed?

• Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) as issue in a detailed comparison of the Phelps/Snyder case with the Fallwell/Flynt/Hustler cases

• Rolling Stone magazine and the University of Virginia Libel suit (Nicole Eramo, plaintiff) 

• Hulk Hogan/Gawker libel case (Peter Thiel and Bubba the Love Sponge) 

• Jesse Ventura and Chris Kyle/American Sniper libel case 

• CIA Breach of contract case, Snepp v. US (Frank Snepp, former CIA analyst) 

• Oprah Winfrey and “veggie libel” (disparagement of products)

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