Mass Media Ethics & Legal Issues: Where do we draw the fine lines?

Happy Birthday To Everybody: Victory For The Public Domain (With An Asterisk)


The “Happy Birthday” song and copyright issues

It’s now (probably) legal to publicly sing the world’s most popular song, thanks to an opinion handed down yesterday by a federal judge in Los Angeles. After years of litigation, the court held that the lyrics1 of “Happy Birthday To You” are not restricted by Warner/Chappell’s copyright, handing a solid victory to a group of filmmakers producing a documentary about the song, not to mention the general public.

Read more about the details underlying the case here.


Creative Commons helps you share your knowledge and creativity with the world.

We’re helping to realize the full potential of the Internet—universal access to research and education, full participation in culture—to drive a new era of development growth, and productivity.

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.



A handy infographic that explains net neutrality, courtesy of

NET NEUTRALITY — read more about it here.

Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now

What happened?

In May 2014, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released a plan that would have allowed companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to discriminate online and create pay-to-play fast lanes.

Millions of you spoke out — and fought back.

Thanks to the huge public and political outcry, Wheeler shelved his original proposal, and on Feb. 4, 2015, he announced that he would base new Net Neutrality rules on Title II of the Communications Act, giving Internet users the strongest protections possible.

The FCC approved Wheeler’s proposal on Feb. 26, 2015. This is a watershed victory for activists who have fought for a decade to protect the open Internet.

However, now that the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules are out in the world, opponents are doing everything they can to undermine the open Internet.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the Internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online. This is the definition of an open Internet.
Net Neutrality means an Internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that Internet service providers should provide us with open networks — and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you can call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn’t be concerned with the content you view or post online.
Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the Internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open Internet.

Who’s attacking Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality opponents are working everywhere from Congress to the courts to dismantle or undermine the FCC’s Title II classification. In the wake of the February ruling, 10 lawsuits designed to gut Net Neutrality have been filed (Free Press has jumped in to defend the rules) and legislators have introduced numerous deceptive bills that would demolish these protections.  Most recently, the attack in Congress has come from the appropriations committees. Both the House and Senate committees have passed bills containing riders that would sabotage the Net Neutrality rules.

One Response to “Mass Media Ethics & Legal Issues: Where do we draw the fine lines?”
  1. Bridget Lavender says:

    I shudder to think that yet another aspect of our world could somehow become something separating privileged from unprivileged- wealthy from the poor. The internet is supposed to be open access and democratizing- that’s one of the things that makes it so influential. Everyone has access- everyone can go and read, and learn, and post, and comment. The idea of it getting taken away is really scary. I wonder how long it would take for people opposed to net neutrality to realize what a big mistake they made if they succeeded?

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