Monday, 26 November 2012

UK press regulation: Lessons from Denmark?

BBC News - UK press regulation: Lessons from Denmark?: "As Lord Justice Leveson puts the finishing touches to his recommendations for a new method of regulating the press in Britain, could the Danish model of so-called co-regulation be an option for the UK?
It is many British newspapers' worst nightmare: A system where complaints from readers are handled by a press council set up by Act of Parliament, whose members are government-appointed, and which has the power to demand that erring titles be fined.
How can you possibly have that kind of government oversight and a free press? Yet that's exactly what they have in Denmark, a fully functioning democracy which values press freedom highly." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Smith v ADVFN Plc & Ors [2008] EWHC 1797 (QB) (25 July 2008)

Smith v ADVFN Plc & Ors [2008] EWHC 1797 (QB) (25 July 2008):
"14. ...Particular characteristics which I should have in mind are that [bulletin boards] are read by relatively few people, most of whom will share an interest in the subject-matter; they are rather like contributions to a casual conversation (the analogy sometimes being drawn with people chatting in a bar) which people simply note before moving on; they are often uninhibited, casual and ill thought out; those who participate know this and expect a certain amount of repartee or "give and take".
15. The participants in these exchanges were mostly using pseudonyms (or "avatars"), so that their identities will often not be known to others. This is no doubt a disinhibiting factor affecting what people are prepared to say in this special environment.
17. It is this analogy with slander which led me in my ruling of 12 May to refer to "mere vulgar abuse", which used to be discussed quite often in the heyday of slander actions. It is not so much a defence that is unique to slander as an aspect of interpreting the meaning of words. From the context of casual conversations, one can often tell that a remark is not to be taken literally or seriously and is rather to be construed merely as abuse. That is less common in the case of more permanent written communication, although it is by no means unknown. But in the case of a bulletin board thread it is often obvious to casual observers that people are just saying the first thing that comes into their heads and reacting in the heat of the moment. The remarks are often not intended, or to be taken, as serious. A number of examples will emerge in the course of my judgment." 

And in summary:
"Are there really genuine issues which require to be resolved or is it the case, on the other hand, that this litigation when viewed as a whole [37 libel actions launched], and in its proper context, is such as to bring the administration of justice into disrepute? Is there really any legitimate or tangible advantage to be gained? ...I am fully entitled to take into account the nature of the issues as they appear at the moment and that I am entitled to protect the interests of the public purse and of the many defendants involved in the light of those clear impressions. Indeed, I have an obligation to ensure that the court's process is being used compatibly with the overriding objective. The court is today required to be more proactive in such matters, especially when dealing with a number of people who cannot afford legal advice to protect their best interests.
- ...It seems that there is the prospect of over 20 further libel actions. This makes it particularly appropriate for me to consider the matter referred to me by the Master on 25 April as to whether or not there is a case for a civil restraint order.... Opinions may be expressed in exaggerated and strident terms; the only requirement is that they be honestly held... It would be wasteful to let proceedings go forward merely on the footing of a series of formulaic assertions to the effect that the individual concerned did not honestly believe what he was saying. There is accordingly no realistic prospect of any such claims achieving the only legitimate goal of vindicating reputation.
- I would not suggest for a moment that blogging cannot ever form the basis of a legitimate libel claim. I am focusing only on these particular circumstances. It does seem to me appropriate to characterise these claims as totally without merit. I will therefore make an extended civil restraint order, which means that Mr Smith cannot launch any further libel proceedings arising out of the Langbar matter based upon bulletin board blogs without obtaining my written permission.

Pub cheap talk, eh? Reminds me of my extended comparison in the final chapter of 'Net Neutrality': 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Five Myths about Chinese Internet censorship

Five Myths about the Chinese Internet - By Eveline Chao | Foreign Policy: "In 2000, President Bill Clinton said: "There's no question China has been trying to crackdown on the Internet. Good luck! That's sort of like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall." But, as Ng put it, "China has the world's biggest nail gun."" 'via Blog this'

Defamation Bill 2012-13 — due before Lords Committee

Defamation Bill 2012-13 — UK Parliament: "The aim of the Bill is to reform the law of defamation to ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. The Bill makes a number of substantive changes to the law of defamation, but is not designed to codify the law into a single statute. Key areas:

  • includes a requirement for claimants to show that they have suffered serious harm before suing for defamation
  • removes the current presumption in favour of a jury trial
  • introduces a defence of "responsible publication on matters of public interest"
  • provides increased protection to operators of websites that host user-generated content, providing they comply with the procedure to enable the complainant to resolve disputes directly with the author of the material concerned
  • introduces new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification. and fair comment." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Cairns v Modi [2012] EWHC 756 (QB) - the effect of Twitter publication

Cairns v Modi [2012] EWHC 756 (QB) (26 March 2012): "But although publication was limited, that does not mean that damages should be reduced to trivial amounts. In 1935, long before the internet was thought of, Lord Atkin said in Ley v Hamilton (153 L.T. 384, cited by Lord Reid in Broome v Cassell [1972] AC 1027 at 1092G): "It is precisely because the 'real' damage cannot be ascertained and established that the damages are at large. It is impossible to track the scandal, to know what quarters the poison may reach…""

'via Blog this'

Cairns v Modi [2012] - libel tourism?

Cairns v Modi [2012] EWHC 756 (QB) (26 March 2012): "Mr Ronald Thwaites QC for the Defendant described the case as an example of libel tourism. The criticism is misguided. The Claimant went to school in England, as did his children, and he played county cricket in England for Nottinghamshire in 7 seasons during a period of 15 years. The Defendant has since mid-2010 been resident in England. A trial in India would have involved very long delays. No application was made to stay the proceedings on "forum shopping" grounds, and if it had been I consider that it would have failed. The case is properly before the court in England." 'via Blog this'

Cairns v Modi [2012] 31 October - the Twitter 'grapevine effect' and libel

Cairns v Modi [2012] (31 October 2012): "Australian case law, where the convenient expression, "the grapevine effect" has been adopted: see e.g. Crampton v Nugawela [1996] NSWSC 651.
Mr Caldecott QC contended that with allegations of this scandalous nature it is likely nowadays that word will "percolate" by way of the Internet, and particularly in this case among those interested in cricket – not least because of the responsible position held by Mr Modi and the apparent authority of his words. Dealing with it generally, we recognise that as a consequence of modern technology and communication systems any such stories will have the capacity to "go viral" more widely and more quickly than ever before. Indeed it is obvious that today, with the ready availability of the world wide web and of social networking sites, the scale of this problem has been immeasurably enhanced, especially for libel claimants who are already, for whatever reason, in the public eye. In our judgment, in agreement with the judge, this percolation phenomenon is a legitimate factor to be taken into account in the assessment of damages.'via Blog this'

Monday, 19 November 2012

New Technologies and Human Rights Monitoring: Workshop Summary

ICT for peace foundation: "new technologies will not be a panacea to address all the challenges of increasing the efficacy of the U.N. human rights monitoring mechanisms, and they will not eliminate the need for greater financial resources and human capital to support special rapporteurs. There was consensus, however, that exciting possibilities already exist for harnessing new technologies to support the work of mandate holders, as well as a committed core of technologists and human rights activists who are willing to advance that effort." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 5 November 2012

Nine admit naming rape victim on social media

BBC News - Ched Evans: Nine admit naming rape victim on social media: "first defendant to be identified was biology teacher Holly Price who retweeted a comment and the court heard Price told police that she had been an "idiot" and wanted to apologise to the victim.
Green named the victim on his Facebook page and the court was told he accepted that it was an "act of utter stupidity" and that he did not realise it was in essence a form of publication.
Thomas named the victim on her Twitter, as did Davies who said he was drunk at the time he posted the tweet.
Ashton named the victim and said she "made him sick" as well as other abuse.
Cardwell, a Sheffield United fan, said he was drunk when he named and abused her and did not realise it was illegal. He later deleted the tweet.
Miss Dowell said Devine posted a tweet which was of "particular concern". The court heard that Devine was angry as Sheffield United had just lost to MK Dons, but the court heard he wanted to apologise to the victim."
'via Blog this'

British National Party member set for ECHR decision

British National Party member’s human rights appeal set for court decision | HUMANERIGHTSEUROPE: "Redfearn v. the United Kingdom (no. 47335/06)
The applicant, Arthur Collins Redfearn, is a British national who was born in 1948 and lives in Bradford (England). The case concerns Redfearn’s complaint that he was dismissed from his job as a driver transporting disabled persons, who were mostly Asian, because he was a member of an extremist right-wing and racist party (the British National Party, “the BNP”). He relies in particular on Articles 10 (freedom of expression), 11 (freedom of assembly and association) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination)."

'via Blog this'