November 20, 2017

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Telecommunications Law

Telecommunications law for the consumer covers a wide range of subjects that overlap with Technology Law. The most prominent of these are:

  • Intellectual property
  • Privacy
  • First Amendment
  • Defamation

Telecommunications law is complicated, so it is helpful to have the advice of a Telecommunications Attorney when you have an issue in this area. View qualified Telecommunications Law Firms in your area to find Telecommunications Lawyers to get help with this process.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is the right to the exclusive benefit from an idea. Typically, it is broken up into three main areas:

Copyright provides the holder with the exclusive right to the proceeds from an idea fixed in a medium, commonly a written work, for a certain period of time.
Trademark is a distinctive symbol or sign, usually of a business that identifies its products, and the holder is entitled to use it exclusively.
Patent provides an inventor with the exclusive right to benefit from his invention for a certain period of time.

Privacy

Many people are surprised to learn that there is no express right to privacy in the Constitution. Instead, it has developed over time, and is generally broken up into the following areas:

  • Appropriating (taking and using) another’s identity
  • Making private information about an individual public
  • Putting another in a false light to the general public

First Amendment

The first amendment protects many basic freedoms from government intrusion, including:

  • Religion
  • Association
  • The press
  • Speech

The right to free speech has been divided into categories that are given various levels of protection including:

  • Political speech – which is not motivated by profit, but is about political ideas or issues. It has the most protection.
  • Commercial speech – which is motivated by profit, but still receives some protection.
  • Obscenity and indecency – which is the least protected, but for some judges difficult to define. One justice simply said, “I know it when I see it.”

Restrictions are allowed in a few circumstances:

  • The time, place and manner of speech may be curtailed if the restriction is content neutral, narrowly tailored, and serves a significant governmental interest.
  • The content of speech may only be restricted in very limited circumstances.
  • Viewpoints generally cannot be restricted unless they are obscene, fighting words, or encourage imminent lawless action.

Defamation

Defamation generally means publishing a false statement that attacks a person’s integrity or moral character, and the person suffers damage from it. Libel occurs when the publication is written, and slander occurs when the false statement is spoken. There are a few defenses to a defamation claim:

  • Truth – if the statement is true, there can generally be no recovery for defamation.
  • Absolute privilege – even if the statement is false, because of where it was given (such as in court), there can be no recovery.
  • Qualified privilege – the statement was made in good faith (without actual malice), properly by a person with an interest to protect, and limited to only the essentials.

Related areas:

Communications Law, FCC Regulations, Technology Law, Intellectual Property, Constitutional Law, Litigation