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The Freedom of Speech: Communication Law in US Essay

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Updated: Sep 4th, 2021

The New York Times in all probability would win this case. This is because the media has a commitment to the readers to put forth the truth in print, without fear or favor. By focusing on the on goings in Guatemala, the NYT may have, no doubt earned the ire of the Bush administration, but it is also necessary that the American people are made aware of the ACTUAL ongoing in Guatemala and not what are stage rehearsed and beamed over the media. In several cases, it has been found that ultimately the truth of subject has finally, triumphed and the contention that such ongoing would abort the peace process with the Islamic Countries does not sound very plausible. Therefore, it is said that in all probability it would be the newspaper that could win this case, given that it had provided an undistorted and factual reporting of the going on in Guatemala.

The freedom of speech is guaranteed to citizens in the First Amendment to the Constitution of America. But, under certain cases, or circumstances, “the government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities.” Thus, pro-terrorists internet sites would are not protected by the First Amendment.

It is also seen that in certain cases where the government concerns for security may be far more significant than the confidentiality or freedom of rights and in such cases, these freedoms may be constrained. The Ordinance is a content-based one, rather than content –neutral one because there are no constitutional commitments for it to be honored.

It could be said that the Ordinance of Michigan needing permission from the Mayor’s office is content based rather than content neutral, since there is no constitutional obligation for this, which is the prime requisite for content neutral laws. The legal tests that would be decided upon by the courts would be in terms of whether it is fair on public interests to have such a law, or ordinance. It is not constitutional because such a law has not be set forth in the Constitution and places a restriction on trade practices, in that conditionality apply for conducting trade and business.

Although the TV Company, WJLK TV had only broadcast the views expressed by the plaintiffs in the case, it could be sued as an independent channel for having beamed news which were false, misleading and seemed to be a clear case of character assassination of the innocent Dr. Stephen M. Levin. The defendants, WJKL TV can be held responsible since they did not make conscious efforts to verify the veracity and genuineness of the claims made by the women patients against Dr. Levin. Besides the lack of concrete evidence which could be produced in Court would be a deterrent for the claimants. The lawyers of Dr. Levin may be successful on their claim because the complaints of the women stating sexual assaults conducted by the doctor on them is not substantiated by material evidence. It is incumbent on the part of WJLK TV station to ascertain all facts and data before beaming programs aimed at accusations of public figures.

A working definition of limited purpose public figures are people who have “thrust themselves to the forefront of particular controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved.” (Armgardt, 1998).

The aspects that govern limited purpose public figures, inter alia, are as follows :

  1. The extent of involvement before the defamation occurs
  2. The level of voluntariness of the party in the issue concerned
  3. The available access of the opposing party for counter speech
  4. The magnitude of division of the public opinion regarding the disputed issue
  5. The extent of the plaintiff’s role in the controversy
  6. The extent of the plaintiff’s endeavors in influencing the results of the issue

A person would be considered as a limited purpose public figure if he/she uses her public status to influence the resolutions of public controversies. In this case, it would be seen that the Courts would not consider Dr. Levin as a limited public figure even if he were to win the defamation suit filed against him since it may occur to the Courts that he would be using his image in order to influence the course of the investigations and the final course of the controversy.

In order to win the libel case field against him, the level of fault that Dr Levin would have to prove that the contentions of the plaintiffs were false, misleading and not based on strong evidences incriminating the defendant in sexual assault cases. He needs to prove that the case was a concoction designed to malign his image and professional reputation and also tarnish his image in the medical fraternity.

The evidence in support of Dr Levin is that, ostensibly this has been the first time in 30 years that a complaint has been lodged against him. However, this does not prove that the issue has not occurred. Moreover, it is not one, but three women who have raised complaints against him. They would need to bring in substantial, concrete and documentary evidence in support of their claims, including the $1 million suit filed against the doctor. It is also necessary that the Board of Medicine be convinced of the aberrations committed by this doctor and their confirmation obtained. Since the case, deals mainly with medico-legal aspects the views of medical and forensic experts need also be taken to establish guilt or prove innocence.

Yes, Dr Levin would have to prove that the charges leveled against him were frivolous, malicious and designed to tarnish his reputation in the medical community. While the onus would be on the applicants to prove that sexual assaults did occur, nor only based on whether the medical procedure adopted by Dr. Levin was appropriate treatment or not, but also whether the kind of complaint has actually occurred, it is also necessary that Dr.Levin needs to prove his innocence.He would have to prove the truth of his innocence by justifying his method of medical intervention and its relevance in curing his patients, and also state that this was his accepted practice and was tried and tested on other patients also, without any complaints. He needs to produce documentary testimonials defending himself in this case..

“The fair report privilege is based on the idea that keeping citizens informed about matters of public concern is sometimes more important than avoiding occasional damage to individual reputations. It gives reporters a bit of breathing room to report on official governmental conduct without having to first prove the truth of everything the government says, an overwhelming burden in some cases.” (Hiestand, 2003). It is however, necessary to ascertain the facts behind such issues and not base interviews on hearsay or unsubstantiated claims or evidences. The fair report privilege grants a certain degree of defense to the TV Station, but it is also necessary that the Station does not take recourse to such defenses and immunities in order to air controversial reports and interviews.

The Doctor may succeed in the appropriation claim since the basis of evidence against him is on hearsay reports complained by the 3 women in the Board of Medicine and has not been substantiated by documentary evidences or other material proof that could hold him liable for the offences that has been leveled against him. The appropriation clause is based on the terming of the Doctor as X rated doctor and making a public issue of medical matters. It is also necessary that, in the absence of concrete evidence on the part of the women complainants, the TV Company should have assessed all the facts before allowing the interviews.

The free dictionary defines intrusion as “Illegal entry upon, or appropriation of the property of another.” (Intrusion. 2008). In this case it could reasonably be said that the act of photographing the Doctor near his office constitutes a breach of fundamental rights of a citizens and could be construed to be intrusion since he was photographed without permission or gaining his expressed prior consent. It also amounts to trespass where an outsider gains entry to a place for carrying out legally prohibited activities. Moreover, the doctor was not also aware that he was being photographed and that these information would be used for his detriment in future. In the absence of expressed evidence and substantiation, the women may not be win the case of sexual assaults, and it could be well within the legal status of the Doctor to bring defamation case with substantial punitive damages.

The Doctor may also succeed in the intrusion claim since it is against the law to take photographs of people without their expressed permission and consent.

It may be said that copyright infringement occurs when, before the use of copyrighted material by any person or institution, the permission from the copyright owner has not been taken. In situations where permission from the owners cannot be possibly obtained, the use of copyrighted material needs to be completely avoided unless it could be established as “fair use” According to Section 107 of the Copyright Act, this fair use, needs to pass the 4 Way Test and these four conditions are : the motives and objectives of its use- whether such use is for commercial or non-profit making education purposes, nature of copyrighted work, the quantum and substance of its use with relation to Copyrights, and the implications of its use in the market with relation to the value of the copyright work. (Fair use, 2006). It is most likely that Songyi Park would win this case because the use of these articles are not profit- motivated but is for educational purposes within the meaning and ambit of the terms contained under section 107 of the Copyright Act pertaining to fair use doctrine. The use for which Songyi Park uses the education materials are for non-profit reasons designed to enhance educative content value and usage to users.

Deceptive advertisement: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines it “as being a representation, omission, act or practice that is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances. To be regulated, however, a deceptive claim must also be material. (Lake, 2008).

In the case of deceptive advertising, it is necessary that it should have the potential to deceive, and much actually result in material deception, which aggrieves the customers/consumers.

The ability to deceive, that is the consumer who sees the advertisement stating in them, overtly or covertly to be a claim that is false or deceptive, which is false or harmful, and is seen by others to be so. If an advertiser makes or relies on a claim, the consumers may place reliance on such claims, and when these claims are later proved to be false, or materially untrue, it could be said, that deceptive advertising has taken place.

In this case, it could be said that although there are shades of deception, no material harm or injury has been caused to the consumer, in that, prices are at competitive rates, and it is up to the consumers whether to buy the pens at that prices or not. Although there is an inducement to buy, it is not deceptive advertising in the strictest sense of the term.


Cornell University law school. Web.

Volokh, Eugene. (2007). The Volokh Conspiracy. Web.

Hiestand, Mike. (2003). Fair report privilege: A valuable, pitfall-laden defense. National Scholastic Press Association. Web.

Fair use. (2006). US Copyright. Web.

Lake, Laura. (2008). About.com. Web.

Armgardt, Charles. (1998). Libel and Slander. Modrall Sperling Lawyers. Web.

Intrusion. (2008). The Free Dictionary by Farlex. Web.

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