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Centre for the Study of Culture and Society

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Course offered in 2006-2007

This course has been put together by well known theorist on media law Lawrence Liang. It is aimed at introducing students to major issues related to media and the law. We often come across heated debates on censorship, freedom of expression or copyright and piracy, which are all questions that have to do with the interface between media and law. There is a commonsensical understanding that in such debates is the only thing that matters is which side we are on: are we for censorship or free speech? Or better still, for free speech with reasonable restrictions? Such an understanding is both inadequate and insensitive to a number of complex factors that come into play when media regulation is discussed.

This course will look into important periods in the history of media in India. Some of the questions we will ask are: How and why did the British colonial government introduce film censorship? Is censorship merely about reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech? What is the public that the law protects by regulating media? What is obscenity? How does law define obscenity? Can art be obscene? Can speeches hurt people? When are books banned? What is media piracy? Do we need more stringent laws to curb piracy?

Major court cases and government documents related to media and law will be examined. Students will be provided with critical tools to not only understand the history of media regulation but also contemporary issues.

Some of the topics covered by the course are: History of Film censorship in India; Free speech and reasonable restrictions; Understanding the Public in Media Law; Obscenity; Hate speech; Contempt of Court; Banning of Books - The Rushdie Affair; Media Piracy and the urban experience.


• Relevance and Eligibility


The course will be of interest to all those who are interested in understanding current debates and controversies around the media. The course will be direct relevance to students of Communicative English, Journalism and Sociology. The following categories of students are eligible to take the course:


• 1. Rethinking Law and Media
2. Touch of Evil


  • 3. The Natives are Watching



• 4. Philosophical Foundations of Free Speech



• 5. Reasonable Restrictions and Unreasonable Speech



• 6. Obscenity, Decency and Morality



• 7. Protect us from all Evil



• 8. Beyond Contempt



• 9. Hate Speech and the Philosophy of Language



• 10. Urban Transformations and Media Piracy 

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