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.