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National College Credit Recommendation Service

Board of Regents  |  University of the State of New York

National Paralegal College | Evaluated Learning Experience

Public Communications Law (PLG-303)


Varies; self-study format.

Various, distance learning format.
March 2010 - Present.
Instructional delivery format: 
Traditional classroom model
Learner Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to: identify the administrative agencies involved in regulating the media and describe roles in doing so; explain how the First Amendment protects the media and allows them the right to communicate news and ideas to the public; outline the methods of prior restraint employed by the government to stifle speech by the media and the extent to which these are allowed; explain the elements of defamation and extent to which the media is protected from defamation lawsuits by the First Amendment; describe various actions that constitute invasion of privacy, especially as it relates to the media broadcasting information about people or companies; apply copyright laws to determine whether a media's usage of copyrighted material is an infringement or is protected under the fair use rule; apply trademark laws to determine whether a media's usage of a company's trademark is an infringement of the owner's rights; explain the extent to which political speech is protected and the limitations that the government can subject free speech to protect the integrity of elections; discuss how the First Amendment protects commercial advertising; research and apply false and deceptive advertising rules that exist under federal law; determine whether a communication is obscene and thus not protected by the First Amendment; explain the extent and manner in which the broadcast of "indecent" material is limited under federal law; outline the steps that judges may take against the media to limit their ability to poison the jury pool in preparation for a trial; identify and discuss protections that are given to journalists under federal and state law that allow them to keep their sources confidential; decide what government information can and cannot be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and state equivalents; and seek information under the Freedom of Information Act.


This course explores the role of the law in both protecting and limiting the media and examines the First Amendment freedom of speech and the press and how that impacts the government's ability to regulate the media. Some key concepts such as prior restraint, obscenity, false advertising, and election rules are examined. Students also discuss federal regulation of the media and private remedies that people may have against the media regarding issues such as defamation and copyright infringement. Evaluation criteria include: required readings, essay assignments, class participation, and final exam.

Credit recommendation: 

In the lower division baccalaureate/associate degree category OR in the upper division baccalaureate degree category, 3 semester hours in Communications Law, or Public Communications Law (1/13) (3/18 revalidation) (5/23 revalidation).