Tag Archives: freedom of speech

RCFP: ‘Responsible journalism’ defence established in Canadian libel law

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) reports on two rulings at the end of 2009 that will help journalists’ freedom of speech in Canada.

[Two] rulings established a “responsible journalism” defence that protects reporters sued for libel whose stories were in the public interest […]

In the first case, The Toronto Star was saved from paying $1 million in punitive damages – one of the largest awards in Canadian libel history – over a story detailing controversial plans for a new golf course. In the other case, a $135,000 verdict against the Ottawa Citizen was overturned over a story about a former police officer who misrepresented himself at Ground Zero, The Globe and Mail reported.

Advocates say the two rulings effectively revamp Canadian libel law to protect reporters – and extends the same protection to internet journalists.

Full story at this link…

George Ayittey: ‘Freedom of expression was not invented by the West’

On a recent BBC World Service programme ‘The Forum’, Ghanaian-American economist George Ayittey shared his 60 second idea to change the world – part of the show at this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0048s8s (September 20, 2009). He is @ayittey on Twitter.

“[T]he UN should expel those countries that do not respect freedom of expression, which is Article 19 of the UN Human Rights charter.”

The Committee to Protect Bloggers have supplied this full transcript:

“I would like everyone to write the following on postcards and send to governments around the world.

“Freedom of expression and of thought was not invented by the West.  It has existed in traditional societies – even primitive ones – for centuries. Human progress would not have been possible without it.

“I’m saying this as a black African from Ghana because today around the world, we have ‘educated’ barbarians who want to suppress this freedom by arresting and jailing dissidents, writers, journalists and those they disagree with. In fact, the UN should expel those countries that do not respect freedom of expression, which is Article 19 of the UN Human Rights charter.

“When everyone has written this thought on postcards and sent them, they should also put them on POSTERS and hang them up in market places, in windows, on the sides of buildings everywhere. So that around the world will be the unmistakable visual reminder of the freedom everywhere.”

MediaPost: Las Vegas newspaper to reveal commenter identities

Background: Federal prosecutors in Las Vegas are seeking the identity of two anonymous commenters on a Las Vegas Review-Journal article about the tax evasion trial of local business owner Robert Kahre.

The prosecutors’ initial request was for the names, IP addresses, email addresses and other personal details of more than 100 commenters on the article.

The paper has agreed to hand over the information in response to the ‘whittled down’ request, but civil liberty groups argue that the prosecutors’ action could ‘chill political dissent’.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that no right-thinking person would read the two comments in question and see them as a threat, ‘particularly considering the context, where hyperbolic political speech is to be expected’.

They are definitely not unequivocal and unconditional direct threats against anyone. At most, they are exaggerated expressions of the authors’ objections to the case, and are fully protected by the First Amendment,” said EFF attorney Kevin Bankston.

Context, subjectivity, freedom of speech – an interesting case in community management and reader interaction.

Full story at this link…