Assessment: Media Communication Law Mock Case Scenarios

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Legal Problems

Case Scenario One

Defamation is an intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms the person's reputation; decreases the respect, regard or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person. When defamation is in writing it is referred to as libel.

The defenses for this suit rest on multiple areas of defamation law including intent, truth, and social status.


The strongest defense to any defamation action is the argument that the statements were true, because in order for the statements to be considered defamatory the statements must be false. In this scenario, the journalist uncovered records of a previous espionage investigation of the senator's wife. Thus, publishing a story about the previous investigation is not publishing a false statement.

Social Status

Under modern defamation law, there are different levels of Constitutional protection for people depending upon how active they are in the public eye. The highest protection for journalists is dealing with public figures and the lowest journalistic protection is for private figure. A public figure is any person who places themselves in the public's eye to the point of becoming a household name.

Here, the wife of a new Senator is not likely to be household name, thus she is not a public figure. The law also provides for a middle group known as limited-purpose public figures. A limited -purpose public figure is one who places themselves into the public's eye on a very specific occasion or for a specific reason opening themselves up to public scrutiny in that area. When this is the case, the press is Constitutionally protected so long as what was being reported was in correlation with that person's public image.

Here, the plaintiff is the wife of a senator and is thus in front of the public. Additionally, the article published was regarding a previous investigation dealing with an espionage investigation, something that directly relates to her scope within the public eye. For those within this group, the burden for the plaintiff shifts to that of actual malice, meaning that writer knew the statements to be false and published them regardless.

Case Scenario Two

Copyright infringement is defined as an unauthorized use of copyrighted material. The creator of a work owns the intellectual property, or copyright, of that work immediately upon its being written down. Here, the widow's husband took nature photos that were then stored in a university's archives. Unless otherwise stated, the copyright for these photos rests exclusively on the deceased, and passes to her wife.

One's copyright is infringed upon when a person or entity uses the owned images without the consent of their creator for any purpose that is not otherwise held to be fair use. Here, the college did not give notice of or seek permission to use the nature photos. The fair use doctrine makes an exception to copyright protection when the use is criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Here, the university is publishing the pictures along with a work of fiction in the university's faculty journal. Journals, while academic in nature, are a for-profit publication. Thus, the university is not protected under modern copyright law.

Case Scenario Three

Copyright infringement is defined as an unauthorized use of copyrighted material. The creator of a work owns the intellectual property, or copyright, of that work immediately upon its being written down. Here, the self-published author clearly has copyright protection within the United States.

Under modern law, there is no guarantee of an international copyright. In order to protect copyrighted work internationally, many countries began participating in the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention. Under these conventions, so long as a country is under the convention, it will honor other country's copyrights and protect that work so long as it clearly indicates that it was copyrighted with the universal copyright symbol, date, and name. Here, the unauthorized copy of the book is being distributed throughout Europe. The European Union is a member of the UCC and BC, and therefor does afford protection to those seeking to enforce their copyrights. So, a case can be filed in the domiciliary country of the European publisher.


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Cite This Assessment:

APA Format

Media Communication Law Mock Case Scenarios.  (2013, March 8).  Retrieved May 21, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Media Communication Law Mock Case Scenarios."  8 March 2013.  Web.  21 May 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Media Communication Law Mock Case Scenarios."  March 8, 2013.  Accessed May 21, 2019.