Tag Archives: media law

The Spectator: Alan Rusbridger backs Lord Lester’s defamation bill

Writing for the Spectator, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger gives his views on libel legislation in the UK and its effect on press freedom. Rusbridger gives his backing to Lord Lester’s defamation bill:

Lester is optimistic that the government will stick to its promise in its May coalition agreement to back libel reform. Let’s hope he’s right. We pride ourselves as the country which invented free speech – Milton, Wilkes, Cobbett and the rest. We’ve been in some danger of losing it.

Full article on the Spectator at this link…

Ed Walker: Legal challenges in the online newsroom

Online journalists should check out this really useful post by Ed Walker, online communities editor for Media Wales, looking at some important questions surrounding the legal challenges for online news outlets.

Prompted by a bit of media law refresher training, Walker refers to three scenarios in particular, which were put to him during training and undoubtedly reflect events in newsrooms on a daily basis:

  1. What to do when faced with a rolling crime news story: how should you cover each new piece of information? How can you ensure the content on your site is contemporaneous?
  2. How should you use content from social media, if at all. How should journalists be using social networks? Is it fair to use quotes from comments on people’s walls? What about photographs? Who would the copyright belong to?
  3. How should you deal with comments on stories? Should you pre or post-moderate? Should every story be allowed them? Should journalists respond?

While you’re thinking about what you would do, read his post in full here to see what solutions his training group came up with.

Inforrm: European Court of Human Rights privacy case may provide clarity for media

For those following the privacy case of Von Hannover and Springer v Germany, due to be heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in October, the International Forum for Responsible Media blog offers a neat summary and full copy of the submission made by the Media Lawyers Association.

The case, which Inforrm says is likely to result in an important clarification of the relationship between Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and the media, is based on two complaints over the publication of information or images relating to an individual. The first – Von Hannover – refers to a complaint by Princess Caroline of Monaco against photographs taken of herself and her husband on holiday, one of which made it into the press before she took out an injunction, while the second – Springer – is a complaint by publishing group Axel Springer over a ban on reporting the arrest and criminal conviction of an actor.

In a useful summary of the MLA Submission, Inforrm provides the following bullet points:

  • Article 8 does not create or require the creation of an “image right”.
  • Publication of a person’s photograph (or image) does not, of itself, necessarily engage their Article 8 rights’ whether this is so depends upon all the circumstances; a certain level of seriouness is required before there will be any interference with the right.
  • The right to reputation is not a Convention right.  Publication of a defamatory statement about a person does not, of itself, interfere with their Article 8 rights.
  • It is vital, in any balance between the Convention rights under Articles 8 and 10, that media reporting upon all matters of public interest or public concern is strongly protected.
  • The reporting of court proceedings (in particular, criminal proceedings) requires wide and strong protection.

See Inforrm’s background to the case here…

Inforrm: European court rules in favour of right not to disclose material revealing sources

The International Forum for Responsible Media blog has posted details of an interesting judgement this week by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, which centres on the rights of journalists to protect confidential sources.

In the case of Sanoma Uitgevers BV v Netherlands, the court held unanimously that the requirement of the applicant to provide material to the public prosecutor was not prescribed by law and violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case refers to journalists from a car magazine who had attended an illegal car race and taken photographs in 2002. The authorities had demanded the journalists hand over their images to police.

Following ongoing legal disputes, which led to the material being surrendered and then later returned to the magazine, the case came before the European Court of Human Rights. The magazine challenged the legalities surrounding the disclosure of information to the police that would have revealed their journalists’ sources. In its original judgement, dated 2009, the court found that “the information contained on the CD-ROM had been relevant and capable of identifying the perpetrators of other crimes investigated by the police and the authorities had only used that information for those purposes”.

But following the referral of the case to the Grand Chamber this week, which included a media intervention by bodies including the Guardian News and Media and the Committee to Protect Journalists, the court held that Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated and awarded the claimants 35,000 Euros for costs and expenses.

The Inforrm blog has more background information on the case and a link to the judgement in full.

#iq2privacy: Privacy, the press, and Max Mosley

Journalism.co.uk will be at tonight’s ‘Sex, bugs and videotape’ debate organised by Intelligence Squared. Given this week’s renewed focus on phone hacking at the News of the World and debates on the privacy of footballers and public interest, tonight’s proceedings are pretty timely.

Proposing the motion that the private lives of public figures deserve more protection from the press will be Rachel Atkins, a partner at Schillings law firm; and Max Mosley, no stranger to the News of the World and secret videotaping himself.

Speaking against the motion are Tom Bower, journalist and author of books on Robert Maxwell and Richard Desmond; and Ken MacDonald QC, defence lawyer and former director of public prosecutions.

You can follow tweets from the event with the hashtag #iq2privacy or in the liveblog below:

Sex, bugs and videotape – privacy and the media debate

Jack of Kent: Putting phone hacking into legal context

Following the recently renewed phone hacking allegations aimed at the News of the World, lawyer and writer David Allen Green has a useful post on his Jack of Kent blog putting the issues into legal context, outlining the laws which apply to the unauthorised interception of voice messages.

He advises that this includes Section 48 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 where a person commits an offence if they make unauthorised use of “wireless telegraphy apparatus” with intent to obtain information, and Sections 1 and 2 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 which rules that it is a criminal offence and a tort to unlawfully interfere with any communication during transmission.

Green provides detailed references to each relevant law and also provides links to guidance by the Crown Prosecution Service.

See his full post here…

CJR: Why we’re suing New York State

The Columbia Journalism Review has filed a lawsuit against the state of New York for refusing to release information under the state’s Freedom of Information law.

[T]he records we’re seeking would likely help illuminate the press’ role in a bizarre chain of events in state history that led to the appointment of an Independent Counsel and to the governor dropping his election campaign. Sure, there will be lots of chaff in those e-mails. But perhaps they’d offer some information explaining the resignations, show reporters testing the most bizarre theories circulating at the time, or catalogue an evolving damage-control line from the state’s highest official.

Any of that would all be potentially interesting, and that’s why we will exercise our rights under the law and file suit.

But given the response from the governor’s office, we now also think this suit must be waged to protect the full force of two laws that the state’s press corps rely on: the Freedom of Information Law and the state’s shield law

Full story on the CJR website at this link…

Former journalism student in landmark reporter’s privilege victory

Interesting media law case from the US – a former student journalist at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism will not have to reveal documents or give a testimony about the investigative reporting involved in a case of false imprisonment.

Carolyn Nielsen’s reporting helped free a man who had been wrongfully convicted and was part way through a 45-year sentence:

The ruling in favor of Carolyn Nielsen – who now teaches journalism at Western Washington University in Bellingham – is significant because it recognises no distinction between the ability of a student journalist versus a professional journalist to claim the protection of the reporter’s privilege.

Full post on the Student Press Law Center site at this link…

Independent online publishers: what’s your experience of UK media law?

Former Journalism.co.uk reporter Judith Townend needs your help: she’s conducting a survey of small, online publications in the UK to find out what their experience of media law is.

The survey should take around five minutes to complete and is aimed at journalists, publishers and bloggers writing for websites with up to 10 employees that are not part of a larger media group. Judith is particularly interested in hearing from hyperlocal sites.

The results will go towards her MA dissertation and the survey is open till 31 August.

Telegraph: Footballer wins high court injunction against tabloid story

The Sunday Telegraph and Telegraph.co.uk reports that a Premier League footballer has won a high court injunction preventing publication of claims about him in a Sunday tabloid.

The ruling was obtained from Mr Justice Nicol, says the paper, and adds to recent debate about UK privacy laws, freedom of the press and injunctions, as raised by the cases of Max Mosley and John Terry.

Full story on the Telegraph website at this link…