Sources and Meaning of U.S. Law

The complexities of law is defined as, “any system of regulations to govern the conduct of the people of a community, society or nation, in response to the need for regularity, consistency and justice based upon collective human experience” (Law, n.d., para. 1). I The evolution of digital media law on the Internet will change based on how people interpret subjects such as copyright, piracy, access to information, and freedom of speech. As digital media evolves, laws will evolve to reflect society’s positions on these subjects. The sources of law in the United States are the branches of the government, which serve different purposes for clarifying legal systems. The legislative branch creates law, the judicial branch translates law, and the executive branch implements law (Packard, 2010).

Meaning of Law

An interesting component about the meaning of law in the United States is that law may or may not have a moral aspect to it. Packard (2010) describes a similar definition of the meaning of law in the United States as a, “system to guide behavior, both to protect the rights of individuals and to ensure public order” (p. 1). Packard’s definition of law does not include morality rather the distinction is that law is structured to advise society in social conduct. What is lawful may not be ethical and what is ethical may not be lawful. Advertising to children is legal as long as the advertising follows the regulations designated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is that advertising to children must not be misleading or deceptive. The FTC indicates what are illegal marketing practices that incurred lawsuits.

Deceptive Performance Claim in Toy Advertisement A television ad depicted a ballerina doll performing a pirouette however when the toy was used in the real world, it could not perform the same pirouette (JaimeD, 2010, para. 8).

Nutritional Claim for Foods that are Likely to be Appealing to Children Television ads claimed that the calcium contained in Wonder Bread helped children’s minds work better and aids their memory. Although brain function requires some calcium, this claim was unfounded and could provide no evidence suggesting its truth (JaimeD, 2010, para. 8).

Theory of Unfairness Television ads encouraged children to call 900 numbers to have conversations with and receive prizes from popular childhood figures such as Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. Because charges for these calls were billed to parents’ telephone bill, the FTC determined the ad was unfair because parents did not have control to decline or regulate the charges (JaimeD, 2010, para. 8).

Evolution of Law

The laws for advertising to children evolved because advertising to children is legal but unethical in a capitalist society. Recent studies indicate that advertising to children is problematic. A report from American Psychological Association (APA) concludes that targeting elementary school-aged children, “is inherently unfair because it capitalizes on younger children’s inability to attribute persuasive intent to advertising” (APA Reports, n.d., para. 1). Although the laws for advertising to children are defined by courts and the FTC, marketing has become subtler. Diapers are emblazoned with Sesame Street and Disney characters, toothbrushes are plastered with Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer, Elmo and Cars the Movie cover plates, cups, and cutlery, and finding non-branded clothing is nearly impossible.


The sources of law, the meaning of law, the evolution of law, and circumstances where laws should not be obeyed are intricate situations that require in depth analysis and examination. Reviewing instances where advertising to children presents both ethical and legal dilemmas is interesting because laws are continually changing. Parents should have the final say in what children are subjected to with advertising but parents will need to be proactive in observing marketing practices. The ability to understanding the foundations of law in the United States is necessary for comprehending how laws are made, applied, and change.


APA Reports, (n.d.). Report of the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children. AmericanPsychological Association. Retrieved from

JamieD. (2010, July 6). Marketing to Children: Where is the Line and Who Enforces it? Retrieved from

Law. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Packard, A. (2010). Digital media law. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.


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