Some communications law links

Government agencies

The U.S. Copyright Office in the Library of Congress offers a great deal of information and assistance, including the forms to register a copyright, reports on recent legislation and other documents concerning copyright law. 

The other half of the federal involvement in intellectual property law is handled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Its site has a variety of documents about law in these areas. 

The Federal Communications Commission regulates broadcasting, cable, satellite television and other electronic communications in the United States.  Its website has a vast collection of reports, announcements, regulations, electronically filed comments on proposed regulations and other materials including speeches by FCC policy-makers. 

Like the FCC, the Federal Trade Commission maintains a website that is a valuable resource in its area of authority, which includes the regulation of advertising. 

Other sites

Although there are many sources of legal information on the net, none can rival the completeness and timeliness of two proprietary legal data bases, Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw.  The Cal State Fullerton Library offers access to many data bases including the Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.  Although this data base lacks some of the best tools for legal research that are included in the version of Lexis-Nexis available to lawyers, it does include the full text of both state and federal statutory laws and appellate court decisions.  You can access and read almost every case cited in the Com. 407 syllabus in the Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.  Please note that the Library's electronic resources may be accessed only from campus computers and from home computers using Titan Access. 

Two other legal information sites might be especially worth checking out:  Cal Law and Findlaw.  Cal Law has up-to-date news stories and feature articles concerning new legal developments in its non-subscription section, with additional materials available to its subscribers.  Findlaw has many legal materials online, including not only the full text of Supreme Court decisions but also audio of the oral arguments in important Supreme Court cases. 

Among organizations that advocate a particular viewpoint (in this instance, a broad interpretation of the First Amendment), two of the most complete and well-maintained web sites are those of the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Freedom Forum.  Both have a great deal of material related to communications law--and newsletters to which you may subscribe.  An excellent source of information about the specific legal problems of the campus media is the Student Press Law Center website.  For California law, an excellent site is that of the California First Amendment Coalition

Many law firms have outstanding web sites.   Several of the largest firms that have Los Angeles offices list communications or related fields among their areas of expertise.  Here are a few examples: Davis Wright Tremaine, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Latham & Watkins and O'Melveny & Myers.  The Boston law firm of Sugarman Rogers, Barshak & Cohen has a well-designed and readable site addressing the law of the Internet and many other areas relevant to communications law.  At the other extreme, there are small firms with web sites every bit as well done--and perhaps more fun to visit--than the sites of the megafirms.  I especially like the web site of Bovitz & Spitzer, a  two-lawyer firm (a "boutique," as lawyers call such firms) in Los Angeles. 

-Wayne Overbeck

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