Curriculum Guide · Curriculum
Broadly defined, the study of communications law encompasses the laws and regulations concerning the various means of communicating with the public (e.g., newspapers, radio, television and other mass communication media) and the mechanisms by which people communicate privately with each other (e.g., telephone, e-mail, and cellular). Somewhat more narrowly, the study of communications law often focuses on the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, which authorizes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to license and regulate broadcast stations, to regulate (with local jurisdictions) the provision of cable television, and to oversee the rates, terms, and conditions under which common carriers (e.g., telephone companies) serve the public.
Students interested in an overview of or introduction to communications law should take the survey course, Communications Law and Policy. The course examines the regulation of broadcasting, cable television, and telephone service, following the structure of regulation defined by the Communications Act of 1934 as amended over the years, particularly by the recently enacted Telecommunication Act of 1996.
Students who want to examine some of these issues in more detail or who wish to explore related communications issues should take some of the more specialized courses and seminars such as Communications Law: Law, Policy, and Politics in the Internet Age, Law of Cyberspace, Telecommunications Regulation, International Telecommunications Regulation Seminar, Free Press Seminar, Information Privacy Law, Telecommunications and Cable Law, and the course in Constitutional Law: Theories of Free Speech. Those interested in international telecommunications may enroll in the graduate course on this topic. The seminar, Antitrust and Regulation Seminar, explores the policy-making process, with particular emphasis on competition issues in the communications industry.
Students interested in experiencing the practice of communications law have a unique opportunity to do so in one of the clinics -- the Institute for Public Representation (IPR). IPR's Citizens Communications Center Project practices in the area of public interest communications law. The goal of this practice is to make the communications media accessible, diverse and responsive to the needs of all segments of the community. In the clinic, students represent advocacy, consumer and civil rights organizations before the Federal Communications Commission and the federal courts. Some of the issues that students have worked on over the past several years include children’s television, access for persons with disabilities to communications services, equal employment opportunities at broadcast stations, public interest requirements for digital and satellite broadcasters, the protection of children from unfair and deceptive marketing on the Internet, broadcast and cable ownership rules, and access to telephone service by homeless and low-income persons. Students in the clinic increase their substantive knowledge of communications law, and at the same time, have an opportunity to do a substantial amount of legal research, analysis and writing, interact with clients, and consider the professional responsibilities that arise in public interest law practice. IPR is a semester long clinic open to students in the second or third year.
We recommend that students interested in communications law also take Constitutional Law II to gain a greater understanding of free speech issues, Administrative Law to understand how agencies such as the FCC operate, and Antitrust Law to learn how to analyze the industry structure issues that play a major role in communications law. Copyright Law and the Entertainment Law Seminar also consider issues related to communications law.
Institute for Public Representation
Access to Communications Services in the Digital Age
Communications Law and Policy
Information Privacy Law
Law of Cyberspace
Monopolies, Competition and the Regulation of Public Utilities
Communications Law: Law, Policy, and Politics in the Internet Age
Content Issues and the Internet Seminar
Drafting and Structuring Information Governance Programs
Emerging Law Governing Digital Information
Free Press Seminar
Internet Regulation and Policy Seminar
Law in a New Media World
Related JD Offerings
Administrative Agencies, Congress, and the Federal Courts
Cashin, Sheryll D. (Offered)
Long, Robert A. (Offered)
Silberman, Laurence H. (Offered)
Tankersley, Michael E.
Vladeck, David C. (Offered)
Kovner, Mark L.
Kuney, Steven R. (Offered)
Pitt, Jonathan B. (Offered)
Constitutional Law II: Individual Rights and Liberties
Barnett, Randy E. (Offered)
Bloch, Susan L. (Offered)
Cook, Anthony E.
Edelman, Peter B. (Offered)
Gottesman, Michael H.
Krash, Abe (Offered)
Peller, Gary (Offered)
Spann, Girardeau A. (Offered)
Wasserstrom, Silas J.