Mass Communication Law and Ethics: A Casebook

Mass Communication Law and Ethics: A Casebook

Mass Communication Law and Ethics: A Casebook

Mass Communication Law and Ethics: A Casebook


A comprehensive overview of mass communication law and ethics, completely updated with 1996 Telecommunications Act and major court rulings. For students of mass communication law, ethics, and policy.


This casebook includes extensive excerpts from 25 major mass communication decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States. The cases are presented in the order in which they are discussed in the second edition of Mass Communication Law and Ethics, but the casebook is designed to be used as a supplemental text in any media law course. I have included a brief overview with each case, and they have all has been edited, particularly to delete detailed citations and highly technical material. Every effort has been made, however, to preserve the Court's original language, including its recitation of the facts, its reasoning and the holding in the case. Most of the cases also include excerpts from the Court's syllabus, a summary prepared by the Court's Reporter of Decisions. A few of the cases include excerpts from concurring and/or dissenting opinions, where those opinions illustrate the complexity of the case or were influential in later decisions.

Brackets [ ] indicate that one or more citations have been omitted from the official decision and ellipses ... indicate that one or more paragraphs have been omitted. Text within brackets[text] indicate information has been added for clarity.

The cases cover a wide range of areas of mass communication law, including the judicial process; prior restraint; commercial speech; electronic media and telecommunications; libel; privacy; media access; intellectual property; and indecency and obscenity. The page numbers in the in the overviews refer to the first page on which the case is discussed in Mass Communication Law and Ethics (second edition) (MCLE).

You are encouraged to read other cases as well, including decisions by other courts. There are several comprehensive sources for complete texts of court decisions, especially those of the United States Supreme Court, on the Internet. You will find them listed at my course web site:

My special thanks to Clayton R. Smalley, President and Executive Editor of InfoSynthesis, Inc. (195 East Fifth Street, Suite 807, St. Paul, MN 55101-1984 or 800-784-7036) for granting me permission to copy the cases directly from USSC+, a CD-ROM database of full-text decisions of the United States Supreme Court. I also wish to thank LEA editor, Linda Bathgate, for her encouragement and assistance.

This casebook is dedicated with love to my wife, Pamela, and my son, Derek.

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