James Madison University
Libraries & Educational Technologies


Subject Guides > Media Arts & Design

New Media Law

This guide was created for SMAD 330 and can help any JMU student research multimedia and new media law cases and topics. If you have difficulty finding enough information on your topic, be sure to ask Jennifer Keach or a reference librarian for help.

All online resources in this guide are also found in the Research Databases pages unless otherwise indicated. 


Primary Sources (Cases, Laws, Statutes)

LexisNexis Legal Research   [help with connectors like w/s; help with wildcards like !]

Includes full text state and federal court opinions. Before searching, be sure to select Federal & State Cases, in the left-hand menu.

Media Law Reporter (Carrier Reference and Stacks KF2750 A513)

Provides full-text, indexed coverage of all U.S. Supreme Court decisions and significant federal and state court and administrative agency decisions in the field of media law. A topical index can be found at the front of each volume. The current editions are in Carrier Reference. Older volumes back to 1977 are in Carrier stacks.

Proquest Congressional Research

Searchable full text for congressional publications and legislative research. Includes abstracts and indexing for legislative histories.

United States Code (Carrier REF KF62, online through LexisNexis Legal Research, online for free)

The laws of the United States. The full text of the Code is available within LexisNexis Legal Research and also online for free, but the print may be easier to browse.

U.S. Congressional Set Digital Edition

Great source for older Congressional documents covering 1817 to 1980.


Secondary Sources (Articles and Interpretations of the Law)

Once you find a case, you may need help in summarizing the legal points being addressed in the decision. Often a law review article will dedicate itself to explaining a single case. Sometimes you will find news stories on more prominent or very recent cases.


LexisNexis Legal Research  [help with connectors like w/s; help with wildcards like !]

Includes full text law review and law news articles. This is the default Legal Research search. If you aren’t already there, select Law Reviews in the left-hand menu. **Important Note about Printing: Some law review articles can exceed 200 pages in length!


Lindey on Entertainment, Publishing and the Arts (Carrier REF KF2992 .L5)

Collection of primary sources like laws, cases, and sample contracts as well as secondary sources like interpretations about entertainment contract law.  Updated quarterly.


Primary and Secondary Sources

Quick Search

If you want a Google-like search of a large amount of authoritative content, use Quick Search found on the JMU Libraries' home page. Quick Search includes articles from some of our databases, plus all the books, videos, government documents and other full-length works in the JMU Libraries. Quick Search does not include LexisNexis Legal Research.


Go to Libraries Home Page for Quick Search

Go to the full-featured Quick Search


JMU Library Catalog

If you know that you want a book or video, especially if you have a broad subject area like one of the ones below, start with JMU Library Catalog. LEO automatically limits you to books and videos (both in the libraries and online) and gives you an organized way to browse your results when you do a subject search.



Making Sense of What you Read



A few legal dictionaries that may help you decipher and use legal jargon.

Black's Law Dictionary (KF156 .B53)

The best general legal dictionary in publication. Current editions are in Carrier Reference and Rose Library Reference. Older editions are available to check out and found in Carrier stacks.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law (online through Credo; online through FindLaw)

Good, online dictionary for non-lawyers. Available through the Libraries' subscription to Credo and available for free through FindLaw (described in Internet Resources, below).

Encyclopedias & Other Reference Works

When a simple definition is not enough.  Excellent sources for explanations of laws and cases, biographies and history. These are "tertiary" sources. You primarily use them to help lead you to primary sources and help you understand concepts.

Corpus Juris Secundum (Carrier KF154 C65)

Comprehensive entries, alphabetically arranged and extensively footnoted, explain points of law. Cited as CJS.

Gale Encyclopedia of American Law (online)

Excellent legal resource for non-attorneys.

The Oxford Companion to American Law (Carrier REF KF156 .O94 2002 and online)

Articles which discuss law and law's context. Includes comparisons of the United States with other countries.

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law (Carrier REF KF154 .W47 and online)

Another excellent legal resource for non-attorneys.




Other Sources


The standard source for finding lawyers, freely available on the Internet.

Media Arts & Design Subject Guide

Find news, research databases and more.



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James Madison University Libraries & Educational Technologies