Free Speech, First Amendment, and New Media for Cons and Festivals

Pop Culture Business Handbook for Cons and Festivals (2017); ISBN-10: 1548125873

11 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2017

See all articles by Jon Garon

Jon Garon

Shepard Broad College of Law

Date Written: August 24, 2017


A Con should consider the type of environment that it wants to maintain and develop policies to enforce those rules. As a non-governmental entity, it is free to establish those rules. It is rare that the Con will be required to use its policies to police conduct from attendees, but when such a situation arises, the early planning will greatly help defuse a difficult situation and assure the Con maintains the environment it promised its fans. A Con that chooses to operate at a public venue may find there are certain operations and restrictions that occur differently than in a privately-owned venue. Although the Con is free to establish its own speech policies, the Con organizers may also wish to recognize the opportunity they have to promote free speech and public discourse. Like pop-up universities, the Con creates a temporary world in which the shared experience and the empowerment of individual self-expression collide.

A Con must also manage within the constraint of commercial speech regulation. There are important rules about advertising and marketing in the social media environment that Con organizers must follow. Under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Federal Trade Commission is obligated to prevent businesses “from using unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” Because deceptive commercial speech has little First Amendment protection, government regulations can continue to ban it and to fine those companies that use unfair or deceptive trade practices.

Keywords: Free Speech, First Amendment, FTC, Social Media, Defamation, Public Venue

JEL Classification: K1, K2, L82, L83

Suggested Citation

Garon, Jon M., Free Speech, First Amendment, and New Media for Cons and Festivals (August 24, 2017). Pop Culture Business Handbook for Cons and Festivals (2017); ISBN-10: 1548125873, Available at SSRN:

Jon M. Garon (Contact Author)

Shepard Broad College of Law ( email )

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Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314
United States

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