COM360/LS395 - Communication Law & Policy
Old Main 306 @ 1:00 - 1:50 pm Mon/Wed/Fri 
Instructor: Shawn T. Newman, J.D

Course Description: Social and legal questions over communication resources, rights and responsibilities. Examination of law and policy with respect to social communication practices, such as the First Amendment, media ownership and intellectual property rights.
Course Requirements & Resources:

Required Book: Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment by Anthony Lewis [ISBN-13: 978-0679739395; ISBN-10: 0679739394]
Open Education Resources referenced in the weekly modules.
Course Objectives:

  • Identify the sources of law, including American law
  • Define "speech"
  • Recognize what is constitutionally protected "speech" and how that has evolved over time
  • Explain common law defamation, slander and libel. 
  • Define "media"
  • Summarize the effect a media defendant has on a defamation case. 
  • Analyze New York Times v Sullivan and its progeny. 
  • Recognize the impact of New York Times v. Sullivan on the media rights and responsibilities.
  • Define "social media" 
  • Explain the laws applicable to social media. 
  • Understand the rights and responsibilities of private actors engaged in social media. 
  • Identify intellectual property rights associated with media. 
  • Summarize the concerns with media ownership and consolidation. 

4     Exams @ 100/each
400 Debates/Presentations
100 Active attendance and participation
Total Points: 600

Teaching Philosophy: My job is to help you develop legal knowledge and skills that will make you successful in YOUR career. This class focuses on Constitutional literacy. It is your responsibility to be prepared for class and to complete all assignments on time. I have listed reading assignments, exams and presentations/debates for each week below. Please note that I reserve the option to modify the schedule and frequently add content to the syllabus based on current events. Classes are conducted based on the assumption that students have PRE-READ the material for that day's class; all material is subject to class discussion.

Office Hours: I am available before/after class, by appointment at my office which is located in the O'Grady Library Room 219 [3rd Floor aka Thomas Room] or via email at I try to respond to emails within 24 hours. Note these etiquette tips for emailing your professor and submitting materials.

Academic Policy: SMU Academic Policies and Procedures regarding academic dishonesty can be found in the undergraduate student catalog. I do not give mulligans (re-dos/extra credit) or incompletes and absences, regardless of reason, are recorded as absences.

Need Help? Information on student support offices, including academic support, counseling, health and disability support services can be found in the undergraduate student catalog. Students are responsible for working with disability services to provide me notice of any necessary accommodations. For technology help, contact the Help Desk or the Computer Resource Center.

Class participation can and does make a difference!!

Syllabus will be
on Moodle - log in here