Law & Media

Before this week’s module I had known a little bit about law and media due to some of my other courses, but it was mostly focused on privacy and third-party websites.  After finishing the readings this week, my eyes are opened to a different perspective of laws that are affecting media use as well as some abuse of these laws.

The readings focused mostly on copyright, privacy, and defamation, and it seems like the issue is not so much the creation of laws, but that these laws are not being enforced or in the case of copyright takedowns, being abused.

Copyright takedowns worry me in the sense that copyright holders can abuse their ownership.  Any little thing they determine to be copyright can be followed with a notice for takedown, and if the case gets taken to court, it’s a situation of who has the means to afford legal representation, which in most cases is very expensive. I’m not advocating the use of copyrighted material, but learned that this system of takedowns can be abused, which is scary and unfair to the many journalists and writers out there.

While copyright takedowns worry me, I find defamation claims to be less troublesome. I’m an avid believer of not spreading false claims, talking maliciously about someone,  or spreading rumors about anyone or anything unless there is further evidence to support it, so online should be no different. I believe that a person has the right to freedom of speech, and can write about whatever they’d like online, but if making claims about a topic, positive or negative, it should be followed by solid evidence that supports it. As long as there is supporting evidence, I don’t see how anyone could win a defamation case. With that being said, if I’m going to become an avid blogger or journalist, I would be sure, like the reading suggests, to stay up to date on ways to avoid legal risks just be extra safe.

Another topic that was covered this week was net neutrality, something that I was concerned about when it first became threatened in 2017.  I tried to educate my friends and family on why it would be a bad decision to repeal net neutrality, but it seemed that a lot of people didn’t understand what it was, or didn’t care enough to  pay attention. Unfortunately the fight to keep the law was repealed and net neutrality was no more.  Even though our net neutrality repeal hasn’t led to extreme circumstances like in some other countries, it still concerns me that if internet service providers really wanted to limit access to certain things, they could. It seems like an easy way to censor the public from certain sites and services that should be available to everyone, and in my opinion that’s dangerous territory.

I’ve always been a user of media, but until this past year I was not aware of what kind of laws could affect my media use and what I do online.  I was becoming more aware on the issue of privacy, but this week’s readings really opened my eyes to specific laws and issues that are currently happening.  I feel that I’m definitely going to change the way I use media after learning more about the laws that are affecting it, such as learning that leaving a comment could lead to a copyright lawsuit, or ways to make sure you’re safe from defamation lawsuits when sharing an opinion online. Overall, this module taught me to be more careful with what I post, the importance of privacy and privacy settings, and my rights and risks when using the Internet.