Sunday, 13 December 2009

Media Law (6) - notes


  • Similar to theft as it is taking someones work and passing it off as your own.
  • The person who originally published this work could sue you if they did not grant you or sell you permission to use their work.
  • Original act was in 1911 but was updated in 1988 for technological advancements such as photography.
  • If it was not for copyright then journalism would not exist: no copyright, no profit.
  • Any work you do belongs to you unless you are contracted to give it up or you sell it.
  • wages or fees are often substituted for the right of your work
  • If you are freelance then you can sell your work for whatever price you please. For example if you get the last photograph of David Beckham before he dies and you are freelance you could sell it for millions. On the other hand, if you are a working for The Sun and you get this photograph, they will sell it for millions. You will get your £100 usual rate!
  • It is very important to understand that there is no copyright in ideas or facts and information.
  • The Da Vinci Code case:

Dan Brown the author of the Da Vinci Code was sued in 2007 by two authors who claimed to have published a similar story to his some years before. Even though what they were saying was true, the stories were similar, there was no direct lifting from Brown and the judge ruled that there was no copyright in idea of this sort.

Media Law (4) - notes

Qualified Privilege:

  • Common law QP is one of the best defences for defamation.
  • The defence has to prove that the statement they have made was in the 'public interest'.
  • The publication also has to be free from malice
  • For the judge to decide, he/she will look at the whole career of publications in order to determine if the journalist in question generally reports accurately and fairly.
  • The Toogood Vs Spyring case:

Spyring accused his butler Toogood of stealing silverware so fired him. When Toogood went to get another job Spyring was asked for a reference to which he mentioned about the incident. Toogood attempted to sue claiming it would be impossible for him to get a job elsewhere, however the appeal was rejected as it was judged that Spyring was acting in the public interest.

  • Another important case for QP is the Reyonlds Vs Sunday Times:

The Times published a story that the then Prime minister of Ireland, Albert Reynolds knew about the Catholic Churches priests child abuse. Reynolds unhappy at this sued for libel but failed as the Times proved that it was in the public interest. However, the case was made very hard to judge as The Times omitted the Prime minister's response from the time of accusation, therefore meaning that he was being victimised and not being treated fairly. Subsequently this case was the starting point of the Reynolds test by which further tricky defamation cases would be measured against:

1. The seriousness of the allegation.
2. The nature of the information and whether the subject matter is of public concern.
3. The source of the information.
4. The steps taken to confirm/verify the information obtained.
5. The status of the information. Has it already been subject to investigation.
6. Urgency.
7. Was the Claimant’s comment sought.
8. Does the article contain the ‘gist’ of the Claimant version of events.
9. What is the tone of the article. Should avoid making allegations a statement of fact.
10. circumstances of the publication concerning the timing.

Media Law (3) - notes

  • People consider their reputation when attacking someone for defamation.
  • The person does not have to prove they have been defamed; the person being accused of publishing a defaming statement has to prove it is not.
  • Dr Joe Rahamim is an example when it was accused he was not good at his job by channel 4 news/ITN and was awarded one million pounds. They said he was probably responsible for the death or serious injury to many of his patients. Channel 4 also had to retract their statement.
  • The dead cannot be defamed.
  • A third party cannot sue on a defamed ones behalf.
  • Slander is different as it is not permanent, you may still be sued for it, however journalists rarely get sued for slander as anything they publish is often permanent.
  • Internet libel = bad! Becomes international.
  • Libel requires:
  1. exposing defamed to ridicule/contempt
  2. causes them to be shunned/avoided
  3. discredits them
  4. lowers them generally
  • Malice is lies, and for publishing a malicious statement not only will you be sued but could also face police prosecution.
  • Defences for defamation:
  1. Justification - If the information is true then cannot be defamatory.
  2. Fair comment - an opinion and not fact (often done in the way of a cartoon).
  3. Absolute and qualified privilege.

Media Law (2) - notes

There are three basic legal principles:
  1. Presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.
  2. Justice seen to be done - accusation of law breaking must stand up in court.
  3. Evidence based - so the right to have evidence tested in front of a jury.

In England there are six Crown Courts, with two presiding judges; their key functions are to try indictable crimes which are sent from the Magistrates court, cases sent for sentences which cannot be administered in a lower court and to hear appeals.

  • Magistrates Court - deals with family matters/disputes such as divorce, child benefit.
  • Most court cases are protected by the human rights act which allows us and anybody else the freedom to sit in; the exceptions are adoption cases, family matters and official secrets.


  • Anything that will cause a prejudice opinion in court is considered contempt.
  • reporting opinions expressed by jurors.
  • anything that interferes with course of justice.
  • any breach of a court order.

Media Law (1)

In the UK there is no written fundamental law for the media or journalists. There are however statute laws, historical documents and case laws that prevent certain publications, and these these laws are enforced through many different court systems.

The Supreme Court is the highest court, although cases here are often appeals from the next court down which is the High Court. This is divided into three:
1) Queens Bench - compensation claims/breach of contract
2) Family Division - divorce/welfare claims
3) Chancery Division - bankruptcy

A good example of a family division case heard in the High Court is the Diane Blood case in which a woman fought for the rights of her children to be given their deceased father's name even though he had died months before their posthumous conception.

The Civil and Criminal Courts deal with civil disputes and acts that are either anti-social or criminal law. As oppose to cases heard in the Supreme and High Courts, the Civil and Criminal cases are heard as Smith Vs Smith as oppose to Queen Vs Smith. The criminal courts are organised using a hierarchy:
1) Crown Court/Old Bailey
2) County Court
3) Magistrates Court

In a court room, if the jury are not convinced beyond reasonable doubt then the defendant is NOT guilty.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Cape Town joy for England

After all the build up and hype surrounding the 2010 football World Cup, the draw for the first round group stages was announced today. Many in England are hopeful for the nations chances in South Africa following an almost perfect qualification campaign; but lets face it everyone fancies England before a major competition.

The optimistic fans will be boosted by what seems a pretty straight forward draw for the English, as they face the USA, Slovenia and Algeria at the first hurdle. However, the second round could prove a test: if England do qualify, they could face a tricky test against Germany or Serbia. Only time will tell if England will line up against their arch enemies.

As for the rest of the draw there will be some interesting fixtures; especially that of group G which is being labelled a group of death: tournament favorites Brazil, arguably the strongest African nation, Ivory Coast and Portugal will battle it out to escape to the next round along with rank outsiders North Korea.

Italy, Spain, France and Argentina all seem to have favourable draw and are poised to qualify from their groups, however at this stage of the competition no games are easy. Only 188 days to go until the tournament kicks off, and it can almost be guaranteed that all the players and staff involved are chomping at the bit to get out there.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Hampshire Council to implement 'driving under the influence' campaign

Across Hampshire the County Council are implementing a ‘driving under the influence’ campaign from the 30th November to reduce the number of drunk and drug drivers.

     The Council are sending out 32 taxis with the slogan ‘you drink, I’ll drive’ plastered on the side in an attempt to persuade drivers to use them instead of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

      This seems like a good idea, but the Council could surely look at other was to make the campaign more effective; cheaper fares or free bus services could seem more appealing to possible offenders.

      A recent road safety week was organised by a charity called Brake, and according to them 15,935 people were either killed or injured in 2007 due to intoxicated drivers.

      Many people who drug-drive often do so without realising due to taking prescribed medication, which affects their driving ability; this is now being highlighted on pharmacy bags as part of the campaign.

     As with the drink driving campaign surely there could be more done to prevent prescription drug driving, and the success of the campaign will reflect this.

    There are already deterrents in place to stop drink or drug drivers: doing so can land you up to 6 months in prison, at least a years driving ban and up to £5000 in fines.

      The results of the campaign will be interesting, and if it is a success the campaign will surely be implemented elsewhere in the UK. 

Friday, 27 November 2009

Will it be a white Christmas?

If you have poked your head out of the door recently, I am sure you would have felt the extreme chill in the air. Just a week ago it would have seemed extremely unlikely that we would be talking about a possible white Christmas, however with conditions this week being reported at 5-6 degrees Celsius, a lot of people are predicting snow.

Snow can be an exciting time for a lot of people, especially the young; a lot of people will also be hoping for snow in order to make their own Christmas experience that extra bit special. After all, in England all we usually experience is soggy leaves and puddles. Even though this is the case, people who are travelling around the Christmas period in order to spend this time with family or friends could face the hardships of delays and cancellations in public transport, and the impossibilities of driving; we all remember the immense problems caused by the snowfall in the early parts of this year! One thing that stands out for me about that time was seeing cars abandoned at the side of the road; if we do have a repeat performance I would advise steering clear of road use!

The temperatures for the beginning of the year that prompted those major snowfalls ranged between -18.4 degrees to 15.4 degrees, so if you are hoping for a white Christmas you could well be in luck, be sure to keep an eye on those weather updates.

The Daily Telegraph/BBC Radio One - News Agenda

The Daily Telegraph is the ‘UK’s best selling quality daily newspaper, outselling its nearest competitor by a massive 255,840 copies a day’. Out of all of these readers 87.4%, on average, read it every day and 72% read no other papers.

The Daily Telegraph is mainly aimed at people who fall under the ABC1 bracket, 1.2 million of which are AB. It can also be said that it is more aimed at the male population, as recent figures show around 56% of all readers are male. In recent times The Telegraph has been nick-named ‘The Torygraph’, and from this we can see that it has right wing beliefs and reaches out to a Conservative audience.

Close analysis of ‘The Telegraph’ supports the fact that it is aimed at the ABC1 audience; advertisements used range from eco friendly cars, to business flights. One major comparison you can make between The Telegraph and a general tabloid newspaper is the use of car advertising: in The Telegraph you will find a Saab automobile being advertised for its ‘eco power engine’, whereas in a tabloid you will find a Volkswagen being advertised for its sleek design and high performance. The reason for this is that you will find a lot more ABC1’s who will have a high drive for saving the planet and the ‘Act on CO2’ policy. On the other hand C2DE’s, who are lower down the social spectrum will not be influenced to buy a car for these such reasons; they are more likely to be persuaded by an advert that promotes the cars attributes in speed, power and sex appeal.

The stories in The Telegraph are always consistent in content. Front page news is usually made up of political activities or War efforts: ‘Back pedalling on MP’s expenses’, this being an example of a recent headline. The ABC1 audience will be much more inclined to read about this type of story as oppose to a headline found in The Sun: ‘Katie’s not rushing home to kids’, which would appeal to the C2DE audience as it is about television, something that ABC1’s generally have little time to enjoy. In The Telegraph the stories have a lot more text and fewer photographs, on the contrary tabloid newspapers tend to have little text, but huge headlines and photographs. Having much larger size pages, The Telegraph has an advantage for appealing to advertisers in that it gives the adverts more exposure as readers tend to take longer on the page.

BBC Radio One is one of the most popular radio stations in the whole of the UK. It plays all the current popular music and chart hits, and after 7pm it also plays alternative music, such as dance. This makes the station extremely popular to the younger audience and the more C2DE social classes. It is broadcasted via different methods such as internet, TV and radio itself.

This music is reflected in the news bulletins that are broadcasted: One of the main stories this week for example has been about the cannabis health risk not rising, and police tackling internet knife crime. These types of stories would appeal a lot more to a younger audience and therefore mirrors the music played. Other stories would also appeal to many young people, especially those at school: one of the main ones that have stood out to me was ‘bulimia was my escape from bullying’, this not only would help young school children with the same problem, but also offers great advice and support lines.

On the other hand, a radio station such as BBC Radio Four which is the second most popular domestic radio station in the UK which deals with news, drama, science and history. One of the more recent programmes is called ‘farming today’, and this gives an example of what is likely to be broadcasted. Unlike BBC Radio One, the news is directed more at the ABC1 audience, news concerning trades unions and banks are more commonplace.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Handy Henry

The age old question in modern day football: Is it time for the introduction of the video referee? The mid-week World Cup Qualifier between France and The Republic ofIreland has sparked the grand debate once again.

So it's the first half of extra time in this epic match up between a brave Ireland, and a under-par France. The Irish had overturned a 1-0 home defeat in Paris when Thierry Henry handled the ball to set up William Gallas to snatch a winner and break the hearts of an entire nation. Now we have all seen a 'cheeky' handball before, but this one, it has to be said was absoloutely blatant. Despite Irish appeals the goal stood.

The after match debates have ranged from the Barcelona striker being labelled a 'cheat', to demands for a replay. Many argue, however, that a decision as important as this one could have easily been rectified with the aid of a video referee. Does a video ref take the unpredictability and passion out of the game? Or is football lacking the technology that other sports such as Rugby, Tennis and Cricket have adapted?

Henry has come out and defended himself against the claims he is a cheat and has told that he reacted with instincts. He even went as far as telling the officials of his 'mishap', and he backs the pleads of the Irish for a replay. Fifa have however ruled out this possibility.

Some may say that the Irish were unlucky, but it could also be argued that they should have finished off the French in normal time. Still the debate will go on to whether or not video technology should be introduced, and there will no doubt be more events in the future that will contribute to it.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Gutenberg, Caxton and the origins of printing - Journalism Now

In the year 1436 German inventor Johannes Gutenberg began inventing the printing press; it was complete in 1440. This machine, although requiring many tweaks over the years, remained the principal means of printing until the late twentieth century. Gutenberg had created the first machine that could print using movable type: each character is cast upon a separate piece of metal, therefore giving the availability to move the lettering around.

     Before Gutenberg's invention woodblock printing was used; this took a lot longer as the lettering was carved by hand. It was also extremely costly as the wood would have a short life span, so the lettering would have to be reproduced on a large scale.
     Early productions from the printing press were slips of paper sold by the Catholic Church to remit temporal punishments in purgatory for sins committed. This is what was known as a mass-produced indulgence but though only the wealthy could afford it, it was done on a large scale. In 1450 Gutenberg entered into a partnership with Johan Fust and legal documents suggest this is when he began producing the Bible. Fust entered into this partnership as Gutenberg was finding it difficult to fund the printing press - something Fust would be able to help with.

     All seemed to be going well, until 1455 when Fust sued Gutenberg winning possession of all the equipment and the almost completed version of the Bible -- this was completed in 1456. One year after the production of the Bible, Fust and former assistant to Gutenberg, Peter Schoffer, published the Mainz Psalter which featured red and blue text; this Psalter was also the first book to have the printer's trademark and imprint along with the date of publication.

      At this point it is clear to see the impact that Gutenberg's invention had on the advancement for printing. People were now able to read the Bible and not only saw publications as a reminder of the past, but also as a sign for the future.

     Even though Gutenberg had lost his invention to Fust, he was not finished. He created the new printer's outfit which was a set of small types with round, cursive handwriting an invention which really took off after Gutenberg's death in 1468. One of the most influential printers was a man called William Caxton. He was an Englishman who was the first to bring the print press to England (1476) and was arguably the best printer of his day. It can be said that Caxton was the important figure for printing in England and was therefore instrumental in getting English scholars heard around the world.

     The print press houses were so common that by 1499 more than 2500 European cities had one; also by this time 15 million books had been produced, which is a staggering amount. Obviously, the more books that were produced, the cheaper they became. And this, in turn, meant that wider groups of the public were able to enjoy them.
     Gutenberg's invention has proved extremely important to the growth of the media today. Such things such as propaganda have relied heavily on the print press; the 'Turkenkalender' was the one of the original works of the printing press and was propaganda against the Turks. It can be inferred that if Gutenberg had not invented the printing press, propaganda such as motivational signs during the World Wars would not have been able to have such a great affect. It also resulted in an increase in censorship, which was a sign that it was felt by those in authority to be dangerous and challenging to their position. This link is a six part documentary to the invention of the printing press. I found it very helpful, and interesting.

Acknowledgments (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Media Law and Ethics - Week 5 - Secrets/Confidentiality

In this week's 'Media Law' lecture we discussed the three areas of the rights people have to keep secrets. The three main areas were state secrets, commercial secrets and the invasion of ones privacy (human rights).

The revealing of a state secret can range from anything such as accidentaly publishing a picture of a military building, to revealing the identity of an MI5 spy. Any building can be protected by The Official Secrets Act; if caught filming these buildings without any form of permission, you could run the risk of being in serious trouble. Even though this is the case, the building in question would have to display a clear sign indicating this, and if not, then you run no such risk.

Each person has the right to be sure that anything told in confidence will not be reported or disclosed to a third party. One of the best examples of this is a doctor-patient confidentiality. If a doctor decided that he/she wanted to tell somebody about a particular patient's condition without permission then this is judged as a breach of confidence, for which the doctor would be in serious trouble. Something like this is an example of a commercial secret. On the other hand, if the person telling the secret tells it to a brother/sister or boyfriend/girlfriend, the situation changes; there is judged to be no absoloute confidence in family members, and as a result there is no reasonable expectation for them to keep the secret. In order for us to know that the secret information is genuine it must have four things: quality of confidence, told in the correct circumstance (so not blurted out at a party in front of hundreds of people), no premission to reveal and it must cause actual detriment to the person.

One of the most famous cases to come out of the privacy law is that of Max Mosley. He had been accused by the News Of The World of taking part in a 'sick Nazi orgy' with prostitutes. At the time everyone expected Mosley to be fighting a losing battle as it was believed that he had no reasonable expectation for the prostitute not to reveal this. Mosley however was awarded a staggering amount of money in damages for the defamatory comments. For an overview of the full story visit

The invasion of somebodys privacy is the third aspect to consider: one of the main ways we can explain this is in that of taking photographs (still or motion). For example, if one was to secretly take photos of somebody in their home and publish these photos, they would be in clear breach of this Human Rights Act. A main area that is being affected by these privacy laws is that or the workplace. Employers however, have a way around having employees tell secrets about the workplace or any dis-functionalities it may have. These are called 'gagging clauses': these are set out in the contracts of employment stating that if the employee reveals any work secret, they can be fired on the spot. This could inevitably work as a way around the beloved public interest law. A good case is that of Graham Pink, who in 1990 went to a newspaper and revealed NHS inadequacies in caring for the elderly; consequently Pink was dismissed for 'breaching confidentiality.' This behaviour is known as 'whistle-blowing', and many people have suffered the same fate as Pink. A good website for research on 'whistle-blowing' is .

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Red ball leaves Liverpool red faced!

So there I was watching Match Of The Day, when I witnessed one of the strangest goals in the Premier League match at The Stadium Of Light between Sunderland and Liverpool. A fifth minute strike which can only be described as a 'freak', hit a beach ball, that ironically a Liverpool fan had thrown onto the pitch. In doing this the ball left Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina totally flat footed and somewhat confused as he watched the ball (the real one) hit the back of the net.

At the time there did not seem to be much complaint or controversy about the goal, however post match interviews with referees and players seemed to change this. I share Darren Bent's opinion that if the ball was on the edge of Reina's six yard box, and was bothering him that much then he should have moved it himself, which he failed to do. However, former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher, believes the referee should have intervened to remove the beach ball, or instead of allowing the goal, forced a drop ball.

The arguments over this matter will rage on for years to come, but the simple truth of the matter is that Liverpool quite frankly did not deserve anything out of the game anyway, so to have robbed Sunderland of a historic win for something as bizarre as this, would have been a huge injustice. Even Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believed 'he could have no complaints about the result'.

'Starsuckers' - a way to make money?

Something that has recently caught my attention has been the infamous starsuckers hoax which has been played on many un-suspecting tabloid newspapers. Chris Atkins and other documentary makers have been inventing somewhat funny stories about well known celebrities and feeding them to some of the UK's best selling newspapers.

This seems like a great laugh in itself, however the thing that really gets me explaining this to other people over and over again is that it is a great way to make some serious money! For example Chris Atkins explained that he was 'promised' £600 from a story sold to 'The Sun', that the Girls Aloud singer, Sarah Harding, was in fact the owner of many quantum physics books. It is simply amazing that something as simple as that can earn you £600 in less than half an hour; in which the same time, most people would earn a mere £3!

Atkins did explain however that it was not his aim to mak money, rather to 'test the theory that tabloid editors publish celbrity stories with scant regard for the truth'. He does also go on to say that it would have taken a minimal amount of time for these editors to fact-check these stories, so in my opinion it shows sheer idleness. On the other hand, it is stories like this that have made newspapers such as 'The Sun' so popular.

So, if any stereotypically poor students want a way of making some quick, hard cash, all you need is a 'phone number, a (fake) name, a funny story which is also not too offensive (so a story they do not have to fact check.).

Also, the Starsuckers the movie is in cinemas on the 30th October.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Sir Thomas More and Utopia

During the recent 'history in the context of journalism' lecture, Brian touched upon Sir Thomas More and his views on 'the ideal', Utopia. Utopia was an imaginary island of which More projected his views on how society should be, that of a strict communal nation.

More followed the Catholic Church and was seriously opposed to the Protestant ideals, however, he does not directly portray this in Utopia as he allows different religous practices. Even though this is the case he does display his hatred for aethism, in that anybody who displays this would be severely punished.

Bertrand Russell's 'History of Western Philosophy', describes More's Utopia as 'intolerably dull', and quite frankly I would have to agree. The fact that More sees his ideal world where everybody wears the same clothes day in, day out, take part in the same activities and never get a chance to get more out of their life is unbelievably boring. This communist island that More portrays may seem dull to somebody who has lived, and become a custom to the capitalist lifestyle, on the other hand somebody who had communist ideals would greatly accept this island as 'perfect'.

Even though I might not agree with More's Utopia, More has been an influential person in my life personally. For the last seven years I attended Thomas More Catholic School, and during this time I learned a lot about the boldness he showed, especially when choosing his religion over his own life. He was a close friend of Henry VIII, and when he refused to sign the Act of Supremacy in 1534, because it made a mockery of what he believed in, he was imprisoned and beheaded for treason against the King.

For More information this video can help