This is the thirteenth instalment in a regular series from Inforrm highlighting press and case reports of new media and information cases from around the world. It is intended to complement our United States: Monthly Round Up posts. Please let us know if there are other cases and jurisdictions which we should be covering.
In the Media
The contested debate among social media platforms and the Australian Government regarding Australia proposed media regulatory laws which would result in social media companies having to pay publishers for content. Having recently blocked Australian users from accessing news Facebook has resumed talks with the government. The BBC has coverage of the proposed Australia News Code. The Financial Times also has coverage as does the Guardian. The Australia News Media Code has reached the stages of Parliamentary consideration. The Associated Press has compared the responses of Google to Facebook saying the former looks to make publisher deals.
The Press Gazette has covered the News Media Bargaining Code with the headline: Lifeline for publishers or danger to the net?
Nine Entertainment has agreed to join the news offering developed by Google for a reported $30m per annum. Fortune has reported on the deals as assisting Google in avoiding what it calls the worst case scenario of having to pay for news delivered through their search engine. The Senate is due to debate the Bill on Monday 22 February.
The Final Court of Appeal ruled a lower court’s decision to grant media tycoon Jimmy Lai bail applied “an erroneous line of reasoning”. Mr Lai is accused of colluding with foreign elements to endanger national security.
In the Courts
OGBONNA -v- CTI LOGISTICS LTD  WASCA 25 – an appeal before the Supreme Court of Western Australia against the award of a summary judgment for the respondents in a defamation case. The appeal was dismissed.
Yunghanns v Colquhoun-Denvers  VSCA 15 – the parties have held senior positions at the Federation of International Polo for a number of years. The judge dismissed the claim for defamation by Yunghanns and a counter claim. This case concerned an application for costs by the claimant considering whether the cost orders we unreasonable.
Chau v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (No 3)  FCA 44– Dr Chau Chak Wing successfully sought damages for defamation against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd and Fairfax’s employee, Nick McKenzie (collectively the publishers), arising from the publication on and after 5 June 2017, of the Four Corners television program entitled “Power and Influence”, initially broadcast on ABC nationally and thereafter made available for viewing online on the ABC website. The Applicant was awarded $590,000.00.
Parke v Zivkovic and Ors  VCC 41 – a case concerning a complaint of defamation following four negative Google reviews on a lawyers website. Damages in the amount of $160,000 were payable to the applicant.
Pan v Cheng; Zhou v Cheng  NSWSC 30 – Mr Henry Pan and Chinese Australian Services Society Limited (hereinafter “CASS”) sue for a series of publications said to have been published by the defendant about the first plaintiff and CASS. In the second set of proceedings, Mr Bo Zhou (hereinafter “the second plaintiff”) also sues the defendant for a series of publications. The publications overlap.Pan was awarded $285,000 in damages and CASS $150,000.
Stead v Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd  FCA 15 – Stead was Director and Head of Venture Capital of Blue Sky Alternative Investments Limited and alledged Fairfax ran a series of articles criticising Blue Sky and, allegedly, Stead personally.
Malak v Hanna, 2021 BCSC 115. Mayer J dismissed an application for summary judgment on the issue of the availability of the remedy of “disgorgement of profits” in a defamation case arising from the publication of defamatory statements on internet sites and by email in June 2012.
Terrigno v Butzner, 2021 ABCA 18. An appeal against the Judge’s refusal of permission to amend in relation to a claims for republications was allowed.
Caplan v. Atas, 2021 ONSC 670 Summary judgment for internet harassment was granted in a case which concerned an “extraordinary campaigns of malicious harassment and defamation carried out unchecked, for many years”.
Rebel News v. Al Jazeera Media, 2021 ONSC 1035. Diamond J dismissed an action for defamation under the Ontario Anti-SLAPP legislation.
Levant v. Demelle, 2021 ONSC 1074. Diamond J dismissed an action for defamation under the Ontario Anti-SLAPP legislation.
Mineral Sands Resources (Pty) Ltd and Another v Reddell  ZAWCHC 22. Actions for defamation by mining companies against environmental attorneys and community activists were dismissed as an abuse of the process. The judge held that the “defamation suit is not genuine and bona fide, but merely a pretext with the only purpose to silence its opponents and critics”.
Featherby v Zulu  ZAKZDHC 2. Steyn J awarded damages of R100 000 in a libel claim based on the defamatory publications relating to decisions of the Bargaining Council for the Contract Cleaning Industry.
This Round up was complied by Suneet Sharma a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media, information and privacy law.