Skip to content

James Madison University

Hours, Contacts & Maps

Subject Guides

SMAD Subject Guide

SMAD Databases

SMAD Programs:

Class Guides (Spring 2012):

New Titles

Printer icon Printer Friendly Version
Off Campus Access

Subject Guides > Media Arts & Design

Mass Communication Law

This guide was created for SMAD 370 by Jennifer Keach and can help anyone research mass communication law cases enough to do a case brief. If you's like more help, be sure to ask Jennifer Keach or Ask a Librarian.

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

Find a Case


LexisNexis Legal Research  

Includes full text state and federal court opinions.

  • LexisNexis Legal Research is huge. Be creative in your keywords.
  • To find cases (not law review articles), be sure to select Federal & State Cases, in the left-hand menu.
  • Use the search syntax tricks we talked about in class. [help with connectors like w/s; help with wildcards like !]
  • If you want to browse famous cases, go to the LexisNexis Academic homepage by clicking on the logo (top left corner). In the Look up a Legal Case box, click on Landmark Cases.

Media Law Reporter (Carrier Reference and Stacks KF2750 A513)

Perfect source for browsing cases that might interest you. 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. Find a topical index in the front of each volume. The current editions are in Carrier Reference. Older volumes back to 1977 are in Carrier stacks.

FindLaw for Legal Professionals

Reputable source for finding legal resources freely available on the Internet. If you are off-campus and having trouble connecting to LexisNexis, this is a possible replacement. It doesn't have everything that is in LexisNexis, but it does have many cases and articles.


Making Sense of Your Case


Black's Law Dictionary  (KF156 .B53)

The best general legal dictionary in publication. Current editions are in Carrier Ready Reference (near the desk) and East Campus 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). 



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.

Law Review and News Articles

LexisNexis Legal Research

  • If you aren't already there, select Law Reviews in the left-hand menu.
  • Use the search syntax tricks we talked about in class. [help with connectors like w/s; help with wildcards like !]
  • Law reviews (which are scholarly) are mixed in with legal magazines and newspapers (which are trade publications—not scholarly but informative).
  • Some law review articles can exceed 200 pages in length! Think before printing.



If You are Really Excited about Your Topic

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.

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.





Bookmark and Share
Have a suggestion? Need Help? Ask Jennifer Keach
This page last reviewed by Jennifer Keach on 01/25/2012
Contact Us | Contact Webmaster | Giving to JMU Libraries | Staff Directory | Working at JMU Libraries

©2014 | Electronic Resources Terms & Conditions | JMU Privacy Statement
This page may be monitored with Google Analytics.
Last updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2012

James Madison University logo
Libraries and Educational Technologies logo