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CMST 2LW3 Communication Policy and Law (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Herve Saint-Louis



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Tuesday 10:30-11:30AM

Course Objectives:


At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the role and policy objectives of key national and international communication policy institutions
  • Outline and discuss a range of communication policy issues
  • Discuss current events related to a range of communication policy issues
  • Apply a range of theories about the role of government bureaucracy to discuss communication policy moves
  • Outline a range of theories about the policymaking process and discuss them as they apply to specific government policy decisions

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Reading

The following text is required and is available at the campus bookstore. Additional readings are available on Avenue to Learn.  There is no coursepack. 

Packard, Ashley. Digital Media Law.  2nd ed. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

Method of Assessment:

Assignments, Weight, and Due Dates

Attendance & Participation                



1st Midterm                                        


October 5

2nd Midterm                                          


November 6



due November 30 by 11:59PM

Final exam                                         


during exam period

Attendance and Participation

Attendance form part of students’ participation marks. Simply attending lectures is not enough to earn participation marks. Students must participate in class discussions.          


The two midterms will be written in class on October 5 and on November 6. They will cover lectures, required readings, and class discussions.

Final Exam

The final exam will be based on all material covered in the lectures, required readings, and class discussions.  It will take place during the exam period.


An essay on a topic related to the communication law and policy.  Specific topics will be discussed and assigned in class.  Essays will be marked for spelling and grammar; organization (good paragraph and essay form); and depth of argument. 

Submission Process

All work must be submitted via the Avenue to Learn ( drop box, as per the instructions given in classAssignments due after the last day of class must be submitted via the Avenue to Learn drop box unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor.  Assignments handed in to a different location will not be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made.  Do not drop off assignments in the CMST office.  Emailed assignments will not be accepted.  Always maintain electronic or other back-up copies of whatever you submit.  

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Policy on Missed work, Extensions, and Late Penalties

Late assignments will be penalized at the rate of 10% per day (including weekends and holidays) unless alternate arrangements have been made in advance. Work that is not handed in one week after the due date will not be accepted.

A student who believes that his or her written term work has been unfairly marked may ask the person who marked the work for re-evaluation. Students must wait 48 hours after receiving their assignments and or/marks before beginning the appeal process. Students have up to a week to request re-evaluations. The student must submit (1) the original piece of work and (2) a written explanation detailing why they believe the work was unfairly/incorrectly marked. If an academic misconduct case is in progress for the piece of term work in question, a student may not appeal until the matter is resolved.

You have three days or 72 Hours (including weekends) from the date of the missed test to submit a special consideration requests for a makeup test. Reasons for special considerations could include the following:

  • Accident
  • Illness
  • Emergency procedure
  • Bereavement
  • University-sponsored athletics/competitions
  • Compulsory legal duties e.g. jury duty

Supporting documentation

A. Verification of Student Illness (for medical reasons)

  • Documentation written completed and signed by medical practitioner must be submitted.
  • The form must confirm that you were examined/diagnosed within 48 hours of your test or assignment due date.
  • The medical professional must include a statement in the comments to confirm, “the student was unable to write test/hand in assignment on [mm/dd/yy] for medical reasons”.

B. Verification of Extenuating Circumstances (for non-medical reasons)

  • A verifier is someone in a position of trust – this typically would not include a family member or friend, unless they have a professional designation (e.g. lawyer, spiritual/community/religious leader, etc.).

Reasons for special consideration do not include*:

  • Pre-planned vacations or social commitments
  • Transportation delays
  • Technology malfunctions
  • Time management, course loads
  • Course conflicts, team work conflicts
  • Misreading a deadline/timetable
  • Late course enrolment
  • Scheduled elective medical appointments
  • Religious accommodations*
  • Accessibility accommodations*

*Students requiring accessibility or religious accommodations are encouraged to request accommodations for term tests and assignments two-weeks before tests are scheduled.

Online Component

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn ( Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure, please discuss this with the course instructor.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Schedule of Topics and Readings

The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term.  The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances.  If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes.  It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.






Introduction to Communication Policy

Braman, S. (2011). Defining Information Policy. Journal of Information Policy, 1-5.



Introduction to the Legal System

Digital Media Law, Chapter 1: “Introduction to the Legal System”, pp. 1-20.



Analyzing Communication Policy

Browne, M. (1997). The field of information policy: 1. Fundamental concepts. Journal of Information Science, 23(4), 261–275.



Fundamentals of Legal Research

Margolis, E., & Murray, K. E. (2012). Say goodbye to the books: information literacy as the new legal research paradigm. Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Research Paper, 34, 1-59.



Freedom of Expression

Digital Media Law, Chapter 2: “Freedom of Expression”, pp. 21-46.



Freedom of the Press

Digital Media Law, Chapter 2: “Freedom of Expression”, pp. 21-46.



Telecommunications Regulation

Taylor, G. (2013). Oil in the ether: A critical history of spectrum auctions in Canada. Canadian Journal of Communication, 38(1).



Broadcasting Regulation

Digital Media Law, Chapter 3: “Telecommunications Regulation”, pp. 47-74.



Lecture on Writing the Course Essay



1st Midterm Exam


Oct 8-11

No Class Mid-Term Recess




Digital Media Law, Chapter 11: “Sex and Violence”, pp. 303-332.



Regulation of New Media

Canada. Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2018-271



Regulation of the Internet

Digital Media Law, Chapter 4: “Internet Regulation”, pp. 75-102.



Defamation (Libel and Slander)

Digital Media Law, Chapter 9: “Defamation”, pp. 227-256.




Issues in Internet Law, Chapter 7, pp. 167-207



Lawful Access

Digital Media Law, Chapter 10: “Invasion of Privacy”, pp. 257-302.



2nd Midterm Exam



Access to Information

Digital Media Law, Chapter 6: “Information Gathering”, pp. 127-160




Digital Media Law, Chapter 7: “Intellectual Property: Copyright”, pp. 161-198



Trademarks & Patents

Digital Media Law, Chapter 8: “Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks, and Trade Secrets”, pp. 199-226.



Government Information Policy

Orna, E. (2008). Information policies: yesterday, today, tomorrow. Journal of Information Science, 34(4), 547–565.



Cyber Crime and Cyber Security

Aycock, J. (2006). Computer Viruses and Malware. In J. Aycock, Definitions and Timeline (pp. 11-25). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.



Information Controls

Deibert, R., Palfrey, J., Rohozinski, R., & Zittrain, J. (2012). Toward the Fourth Phase of Cyberspace Controls. In R. Deibert, J. Palfrey, R. Rohozinski, & J. Zittrain (Eds.), Access Contested: Security, Identity, and Resistance in Asian Cyberspace (pp. 3-20). Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America: The MIT Press.




Kidd, Jr., D. L., & Daughtrey, Jr., W. H. (200). Adapting Contract Law to Accmodate Electronic Contracts: Overview and Suggestions. Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal.




Other Course Information:

Links to webpages and articles will posted on Avenue regularly. Students should expect a response to emails within 48-hours, excluding weekends and holidays. It is your responsibility to read your MAC email on a regular basis. This will ensure that you receive important information from your instructors and the university. Students are encouraged to come to office hours frequently to discuss course material and to seek prompt responses about inquiries about the course.