This is the first Law and Media Round Up of 2017. The Hilary Legal Term begins on Wednesday 11 January 2017. We will have a Round Up of the media law cases due to be heard this term later in the week.
As the deadline for submissions to the Government’s “consultation” on Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act and Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry approaches, the press has shown an unprecedented level of interest in issue of press regulation.
The “robust” and “fiercely independent” British press has taken no prisoners with a virulent campaign aimed at Leveson and anyone who supports his recommendations on press regulation. Almost every newspaper, local and national, has carried hysterical and inaccurate pieces setting out doomsday scenarios if section 40 is enacted and consistently misdescribing the Leveson system of audited self-regulation as “state backed” (or even “state”) regulation.
The dissenting voices have been few and far between – although the reader comments on many of articles shows that, as the polls demonstrate, the public remains overwhelming in favour of the Leveson reforms. The Press Gazette has a piece on those for and against section 40 – which, lists all the “anti Leveson” articles from the national and local press (there are a lot). To its credit, it also sets out the views of Hacked Off on the measure (a balance which is entirely lacking in the national newspaper coverage).
Our recent posts on the subject include the following:
- A Response to the Leveson Consultation, Part 1: A Damaging Political Intervention – Brian Cathcart
- A Response to the Leveson Consultation, Part 2: The Falsehood that “much has changed” – Brian Cathcart
- #FreeThePress from press barons – Media Reform Coalition
- The Risks of Abandoning Leveson – Martin Moore
- Implementing leveson: the press misrepresents a YouGov poll to advance a self-serving case against its own regulation – Hacked Off
The Zelo Street blog has continued its campaign of calling out the Leveson opponents with pieces including the following:
- “Free Speech Campaigners BUSTED”
- Whittingdale Leveson Claim UNTRUE
- Fawkes Lineker Smear BUSTED
- IMPRESS – Fawkes Pants On Fire
Meanwhile, the consultation is subject to a judicial review – we provided the relevant documents in our post here.
We noted, with sadness, that Roy Greenslade’s media blog in the Guardian is to end at the end of this month. He has, over the years, provided consistently thoughtful and interesting commentary on media matters. We are pleased to see that he is promising to continue holding the newspapers to account.
Social Media Law Bulletin looks at the possible introduction of editing for social media posts in 2017.
Social Links in Socially Aware looks at the week’s developments in social media.
Chris Silver Smith has looked at what could be a recent policy shift in Google’s longstanding informal policy of granting court-ordered defamation removal requests.
Data Protection and Data Privacy
Jen Persson’s blog has looked at three bills which she argues will ‘destroy student data privacy in England.’
The Article 29 Working Party has issued new guidance on several key aspects of the new General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).
IAPP has examined what is in the recently leaked draft of the new EU ePrivacy rules.
Hawktalk has looked at the main findings of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which has confirmed that EU law precludes national legislation that requires a general, bulk and indiscriminate retention of traffic data and location data.
Cynthia J. Larose and Michael B. Katz of Mintz Levin have looked at the 2017 Federal Trade Commission and Google complaint.
Internet Policy Review have published the article “Private ordering and the rise of terms of service as cyber-regulation.”
Surveillance and Information Gathering
Cyberleagle blog considers whether the scrutiny of the Investigatory Powers Act has faced has changed it for the better.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
Shuma Raha in the Hoot has looked at whether the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ threatens the credibility of the media.
Zelo Street has also looked at fake news, and suggests that IPSO has validated a piece of fake news.
The Press Gazette reports that a Sunday Express headline claiming the UK would “build a trading zone ten times bigger than the EU” following the Brexit vote has been ruled inaccurate by press regulator IPSO.
It also reports on a ruling that the Leicester Mercury was entitled to include a teenage girl’s online comments about a school uniform policy despite not having the consent of her guardians.
Last month in the Courts
We are not aware of any media and law cases heard over the vacation.
On 22 December 2016, Warby J handed down a judgment in the case of Barron v Collins  EWHC 3350 (QB) explaining his reasons for refusing UKIP MEP Jane Collins permission vacate her offer of amends.
24 March 2017, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom conference on Media Freedom in Strasbourg, entitled: “Promoting dialogue between the ECtHR and the media freedom community”
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has awarded “special costs” to the plaintiff in a five-year long defamation dispute ordering the defendants to pay legal bills worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The claim stemmed from material published in 2011 on DeepCapture.com, a website devoted to criminal financial conspiracies and controlled by editor Patrick Byrne, better known as CEO of online retailer overstock.com. Plaintiff Altaf Nazerali took action after discovering he was the subject of DeepCapture stories falsely portraying him as an arms dealer, drug trafficker, financier of al-Qaida, and a member of the mafia. This case is a prime example of ‘fake news’ on trial, despite the fact that it predates the concept of ‘fake news.’
The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld an $80,000 libel judgment against conservative provocateur and former lawyer Ezra Levant.
Michael Geist has examined the case of Google v. Equustek Solutions in the Supreme Court of Canada looking at how it could avoid turning the Internet into an “online Wild West.”
The Privacy Right of Action (PRA) will come into force under CASL on July 1 of this year.
The Court of Appeal has ruled that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng cannot sue the media for defamation in his official capacity.
Businessman Sandro Ciliberti has filed multiple libel suits, including criminal libel proceedings, against Malta Today after he was implicated by the newspaper in its reporting on the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools scandal.
Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi said he will be filing libel proceedings against Justice Minister Owen Bonnici.
On 19 December 2016 Gavin Millar QC appeared before the Court of Appeal to head up the Sunday World’s challenge to the finding in favour of Gordon Coulter. Earlier this year Mr Coulter won his action over a report published after his hotel went into administration in December 2014.
Actor James Woods is pursuing a $10 million dollar defamation lawsuit against an anonymous twitter user who has reportedly died. The user, who went by the twitter name, Abe List, called the actor a ‘cocaine addict.’
In Melania Trump’s case against the Daily Mail both sides are fighting whether the case belongs in the state of Maryland.
An appeals court has ruled that a defamation lawsuit filed by a high-profile climate scientist will be allowed to proceed.
Senator Ralph Alvarado has won a lawsuit against his former political rival Senator Palmer relating to a campaign ad the former Senate Minority Leader ran against his opponent.
JonBenet Ramsey’s brother’s $750 million lawsuit against CBS will face many of the same hurdles as any other defamation claim: a high bar to prove that the producers of the September documentary series were negligent or reckless in presenting a project where the “gist” was that he was the culprit behind sister JonBenet Ramsey’s 1996 death.
Singer Ciara has dropped her $15 million defamation suit against her ex-fiancé Future Friday, a year after she first accused the rapper of slander.
Former South African Airways pilot Senior Captain John Harty has been awarded R450 000 in damages for defamation against South African Transport Workers Union (Satawu).
Research and Resources
- MsLods’ Law+tech news round up, 29 December 2016
- Looking Above and Beyond the Blunt Expectation: Specified Request As the Recommended Approach to Intermediary Liability in Cyberspace, European Journal of Law and Technology, Vol 7, No 3 (2016), Krzysztof Kornel Garstka
- Satire in Defamation Law: Toward a Critical Understanding, Review of Litigation, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2016, Jeff Todd, Texas State University, San Marcos – Department of Finance and Economics.
- Towards a Privacy Framework for India in the Age of the Internet, Working Paper No. 179, NIPFP Working Paper Series, Vrinda Bhandariand Renuka Sane, Independent and Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi
- Credit-Monitoring Damages in Cybersecurity Tort Litigation, George Mason Law Review, Vol. 19, 2011, Vincent Johnson, St. Mary’s University School of Law.
- Criminal Investigation and Privacy in Italian Law, TILT Law & Technology Working Paper Series, version 1.0, December 2016, Bert-Jaap Koops.
- The Protective Capacity of the Criterion of ‘Identifiability’ Under EU Data Protection Law’ European Data Protection Law Review, Volume 2 (2016), Issue 4, Worku Gedefa Urgessa
- Data Protection, Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law, Oxford University Press, Forthcoming, Fruzsina Molnar-Gabor, Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
- The Golden Age of Personal Data: How to Regulate an Enabling Fundamental Right? in Bakhoum, Conde Gallego, Mackenordt, Surblyte (eds.), Personal Data in Competition, Consumer Protection and IP Law – Towards a Holistic Approach? (Berlin, Springer, 2017), Forthcoming, Institute for Information Law Research Paper No. 2016-06, Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-68,, Manon Oostveenand Kristina Irion, Institute for Information Law (IViR) and University of Amsterdam
Next Week in the Courts
On 12 to 13 January 2017 there will be an application in the case of Hourani v Thompson (which is listed for trial on 30 January 2017).
The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:
Mionis v Democratic Press heard 27 October 2016 (Gloster, Sharp and Lindblom LJJ).
Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society 8 November 2016 (Chancellor, Gloster and Sharp LJJ).
Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers heard 11 November 2016 (HHJ Parkes QC).
Lachaux v Independent Print. heard 29 and 30 November and 1 December 2016 the Court of Appeal (Macfarlane, Davis and Sharp LJJ).
His Highness Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdullah Al Alaoui of Morocco v Elaph Publishing Limited, heard 30 November 2016 (Patten, King and Simon LJJ).
A & B v Persons Unknown. heard 9 December 2016 (The Chancellor)
Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers heard 12 December 2016 (HHJ Moloney QC).
Holyoake v Candy, heard 13 and 14 December 2016 (Warby J).
Coulter v Sunday Newspapers, heard 19 December (Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland)
This post was compiled by Georgia Tomlinson who is a researcher.