The Great Debate UK
–By Oliver Smith, Media Lawyer at Keystone Law. The opinions expressed are his own.–
Whilst suing magazines after publication may look like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, in seeking an injunction against Closer, The Duchess of Cambridge may be taking the view that she wants to make the publication process as expensive as possible in terms of legal costs and damages in order to deprive the magazines of their profit incentive in the future. However this is unlikely to work in countries where the profits can vastly exceed any damages, such as France.
The photographs of The Duchess of Cambridge topless on holiday in France published by French magazine Closer were taken from a public road using a very long lens. The Duchess is now seeking an injunction against Closer to prevent further publication in France (and to have unsold copies taken off the shelves), damages and a criminal prosecution of the photographer who took the pictures. The photographs have since been published in the Republic of Ireland by the Irish Daily Star and in Italian magazine Chi.
No UK publication has yet announced its intention to publish the photographs. The Duchess could however still seek an injunction in the UK to prevent publication and serve it on all the major UK newspapers and magazines. There is no “privacy law” in the UK as such but the courts have developed the law of confidence to comply with the need to incorporate into UK law a right to family and private life under the Human Rights Act 1998.
from Paul Smalera:
Lately Internet users in the U.S. have been worried about censorship, copyright legalities and data privacy. Between Twitter’s new censorship policy, the global protests over SOPA/PIPA and ACTA and the outrage over Apple’s iOS allowing apps like Path to access the address book without prior approval, these fears have certainly seemed warranted. But we should also remember that Internet users around the world face far more insidious limitations and intrusions on their Internet usage -- practices, in fact, that would horrify the average American.
Sadly, most of the rest of the world has come to accept censorship as a necessary evil. Although I recently argued that Twitter’s censorship policy at least had the benefit of transparency, it’s still an unfortunate cost of doing global business for a company born and bred with the freedoms of the United States, and founded by tech pioneers whose opportunities and creativity stem directly from our Constitution. Yet by the standards of dictatorial regimes, Internet users in countries like China, Syria and Iran should consider themselves lucky if Twitter’s relatively modest censorship program actually keeps those countries’ governments from shutting down the service. As we are seeing around the world, chances are, unfortunately, it won’t.
By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.
Anyone who has followed the unfolding story over the News of the World phone hacking saga will be rightly outraged that a newspaper – a journalist – could think it was perfectly acceptable to get a story from hacking into someone’s voice mail.
from Felix Salmon:
The News Corp hacking virus is proving both virulent and highly contagious. Rupert Murdoch tried to treat it with amputation, by closing down the News of the World, but the surgery came too late, and he couldn't prevent the virus from spreading to the Sun and the Sunday Times. At that point, the virus was unstoppable: its next victim was Murdoch's $12 billion bid to take control of BSkyB. Now, with the UK police investigation barely having started, the virus has managed to jump over the Atlantic: the FBI is getting involved, looking into allegations that Murdoch's papers tried to hack the phones of 9/11 victims.
This isn't the investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that Eliot Spitzer was calling for, although that might well come next. Both of them would normally seem like a bit of a stretch -- it's far from clear that anybody at News ever successfully hacked into voicemails on US phones, and it's hard to use the FCPA when there's no clear financial benefit for the company doing the bribing. But these, of course, are not normal times, and the more the virus spreads the more harmful and powerful it becomes. On this side of the pond, Les Hinton in particular is looking vulnerable; he's currently running the Wall Street Journal, and if he ends up falling victim to the virus, there's a chance the WSJ could get infected by association.
After this post was published, News Corp indicated that it did not plan any liquidation of assets in connection with the shutdown of the News of the World newspaper. In the absence of a liquidation, the scenario laid out by Mark Stephens does not apply.
By Alison Frankel
The views expressed are her own.
Here’s some News of the World news to spin the heads of American lawyers. According to British media law star Mark Stephens of Finers Stephens Innocent (whom The Times of London has dubbed “Mr Media”), Rupert Murdoch’s soon-to-be shuttered tabloid may not be obliged to retain documents that could be relevant to civil and criminal claims against the newspaper—even in cases that are already underway. That could mean that dozens of sports, media, and political celebrities who claim News of the World hacked into their telephone accounts won’t be able to find out exactly what the tabloid knew and how it got the information.
from Reuters Investigates:
Steven Barnett, professor of communications at London's Westminster University, spoke for a lot of people when he said of the news: "Astonishing. I'm completely gobsmacked. Talk about a nuclear option."
from Felix Salmon:
Does the World Bank have a beef with bloggers? According to Aidwatch it does:
This morning we learned that the World Bank does not consider bloggers journalists. According to Bank policy, it won’t give press accreditation to bloggers, denying them access to the media briefing center where new reports are released under embargo before they are published for the public.
In this case, the report we won’t be allowed to see an advance copy of is this year’s World Development Report, on Conflict Security and Development.
from Felix Salmon:
Benzinga's Laura Hlebasko sent me some questions about blogs and online media for a feature she's writing. Here they are, along with my answers:
1) As an established journalist, what is the difference between you writing an article for traditional media and you writing an article for a blog? What do you like and dislike, or see as the benefits and limitations, of those mediums when you are reporting on a topic?
Linda Kay is a former sportswriter with the Chicago Tribune (and the first woman to write sports for the paper), an associate professor and chair of the journalism department at Concordia University in Montreal. She is author of a forthcoming book called “The Sweet Sixteen” about a group of groundbreaking women journalists in Canada. The opinions expressed are her own. Thomson Reuters is hosting a live blog on March 8, 2011, to mark International Women’s Day.
My students are often surprised to learn that one hundred years ago, women were working as journalists in Canada. According to the 1911 census, some 70 women across the country were categorized as “journalists, editors and reporters.”
The electronic word represents the financial future of news, whether delivered by email, iPads or whatever platform comes next. But in terms of galvanizing public opinion and setting the broader agenda, nothing yet is replacing the power of old media, spearheaded by the printed word. That's why deals like the merger of The Daily Beast, a cutting edge website, with old-school magazine Newsweek shouldn't be dismissed as the work of old fogeys nostalgic for newsprint.
Observers of that deal, announced on Friday, could be forgiven for that misconception. After all, Sidney Harman -- the hi-fi magnate who paid $1 for Newsweek -- is 92. The Daily Beast's owner, Barry Diller, was born during World War Two and the site's founder and editor-in-chief, 56-year-old Tina Brown, long ago reached the pinnacles of U.S. print journalism, heading Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.