Mass media law refers to the collective set of laws that protect or limit media or the consumers from different issues that may arise from the use or exposure to mass media. Television, Internet, newspapers, magazines, and film are just some of the few examples of mass media that are governed by this set of laws. However, each form of mass media is subject to different laws under the general heading of mass media law given that each form of media interacts differently with the consumers.
This broad legal term can encompass many issues such as copyright or trademark infringement, libel, slander, censorship, privacy, confidentiality, and freedom of information. The aforementioned are the most common disputes argued over in terms of mass media law.
Copyright or trademark infringement can occur when a copyrighted or trademarked object is used in mass media without the proper authorization or citation. Libel involves defamation of another party in a fixed medium such as newspapers or television while slander involves defamation of another party in a more transitory medium, like a conversation or an expressed opinion. Censorship involves the limiting or controlling of certain pieces of information by the government, which is different from privacy and confidentiality since these essentially involve the releasing of information that may cause harm to the subject of the information or to other involved parties. Freedom of information involves releasing information that the public has the right to know and to some degree, the public needs to know. Many other issues are part of mass media but the aforementioned are one of the most pertinent and widely claimed.