Google has released its latest Transparency Report, July to December 2012, which shows that ‘User data requests’ have increased by over 70% since 2009. It has not recorded content removals but those will be reported separately in due course. UK information is available here; more detailed US data can be found here. Meanwhile, an Open Letter to Skype from “Privacy Advocates, Internet Activists, Journalists & Other Organizations” calls on the VoIP service to release a regularly updated Transparency Report as well.
Mary Beard, a professor in classics at Cambridge University, spoke out publicly and used her TLS blog to highlight some of the online abuse she experienced after appearing on BBC’s Question Time. The website in question is now closing. The Guardian reports here.
Nominet is suing one of its members for defamation over a video published online that alleges its chief executive gave inaccurate evidence to an employment tribunal, reports the Telegraph.
A tenth person has been fined for naming a rape victim. The 24-old woman from Chester was told to pay more than £1,600 in fines, costs and compensation [BBC].
A former healthcare worker has been arrested in Merseyside, as part of the investigation into alleged corrupt payments by journalists to public officials, which is known as Operation Elveden [Guardian]. In a statement, Scotland Yard said: “It relates to suspected payments to a public official and is not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately.”
The EU High Level Group on Media Pluralism and Freedom has published its report “A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy”, which makes recommendations for the respect, protection, support and promotion of pluralism and freedom of the media in Europe and expresses concern over the “rejection out of hand” of the Leveson recommendations by “some politicians in high office”. Inforrm reports here.
Inforrm marked its third birthday last week: its first ever post was on 22 January 2010.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any statements in court or apologies this week.
Please contact email@example.com with any relevant information to report in this section.
Journalism and regulation
The DPP for Northern Ireland has said that eight people who were investigated over the 2001 murder of Martin O’Hagan, a journalist in Northern Ireland, will not be prosecuted because of concerns about a witness’s evidence [Irish Times / Press Gazette].
The new director general of the BBC, Tony Hall, will begin work on 2 April 2013, it has been reported.
There are no new PCC adjudications this week, but four new resolved PCC cases: Mr Johnny Dean v NME NME, Clause 3, 25/01/2013; Mr Ian Calland v Golf Monthly, Clause 1, 24/01/2013; Mr Martin Jones v Reading Post, Clause 1, 24/01/2013 and Dame Tessa Jowell v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 24/01/2013.
The complaint against NME concerned a privacy complaint brought by the former vocalist of the band Menswear about a photograph which he believed was in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complaint was resolved when the photograph was removed from the magazine’s site.
Tessa Jowell complained to the PCC about an article in the Daily Mail which stated that Jowell had been criticised by the Cabinet Secretary in 2006 over an alleged payment to her husband by Silvio Berlusconi. However, the Daily Mail has now published a correction stating: “In fact, while the Cabinet Secretary agreed that her husband should have informed her about the payment, he made no criticism of Dame Tessa“. The online article has also been updated.
In the US, Jim Roberts, the assistant managing editor of the New York Times is leaving the paper – and taking the 75,000 people who follow him on Twitter along with him. paidContent assesses the situation here.
Research & resources
- New issue of the Journal of Media Law, Volume 4, Number 2, December 2012, with numerous relevant articles, including: Irreconcilable Differences: The Attempts to Increase Media Coverage of Family Courts in England and Wales, Hanna, Mark; Public Comment on Court Proceedings, Louis Blom-Cooper; Carina Trimingham v Associated Newspapers: A Right to Ridicule? Sophie Matthiesson and Eric Barendt; The Recognition of a Right of Reply under the European Convention, Ronan Fathaigh.
- Mickey Mouse Squeaks Back: Defending Media Studies, James Curran,
Goldsmiths, University of London, Keynote address to the MeCCSA conference 2013, Derry
- Public Response to Alerts and Warnings Using Social Media: Report of a Workshop on Current Knowledge and Research Gaps (2013), Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) [Chapter 5 on privacy and legal issues].
- Future Identities, Changing identities in the UK: the next 10 years, exploring “how changes in technology, politics, economics, our environment and demographics will affect our notion of identity“, Government Office for Science / Foresight.
- Post Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present, CW Anderson, Emily Bell, Clay Shirky, Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia Journalism School [November 2012]
- Journalism.co.uk: 50 blogs for journalists, by journalists
In the Courts
On 22 January 2013 the Court of Appeal gave judgment in the case of KC v MGN (No.2)(,  EWCA Civ 3) deciding an appropriate order for costs. As 5RB points out, it is a “rare judgment on the issue of costs in an Offer of Amends case“, which found that if, following an appropriate apology, a claimant chooses “to reject a clear and unequivocal offer of damages, and thus incurs additional legal expense himself, and requires the defendant to incur further expense, the burden of what proves to have been unnecessary legal expense should normally fall on the claimant who has incurred it or caused it to be incurred” . The Court decided that:
(i) D pays C’s costs on the standard basis up to 16 Dec 2010
(ii) There be no order of costs between 17 Dec 2010 and 10 April 2011 (owing to the temporary withdrawal of the offer)
(iii) C pays D’s costs after that date on the standard basis, including the costs of the trial and appeal.
Judgment was handed down in Ambrosiadou v Coward  EWHC 58 (QB) (25 January 2013).
30 January 2013, 7pm, You Can’t Listen to this Talk with Nick Cohen, QMUL Atheism, Secularism & Humanism Society and QMUL Literature Society, London.
31 January 2013, 6.30pm, Marketing Medicine Online: Social Media and Pharma, Polis / Human Digital, Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, LSE, London.
8 February 2012, all day, Conference: Media policy post-Leveson, Bournemouth University
20 February 2013, 6pm, The Leveson Inquiry: Trauma or Catharsis? Professor George Brock. Barnard’s Inn Hall, London.
21-22 March 2013, Internet Domain Names: from Registration to Dispute Resolution, Academy of European Law (ERA), Trier, Germany.
5 April 2013, Polis Journalism Conference, LSE, London.
Know of any media law events happening in the next few months? Please let Inforrm know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Australia: An Australian surgeon Dr Guy Hingston, is suing Google in the US district court in California on the basis of a claim that when you type “Guy Hin …” into Google the words “Guy Hingston bankrupt” appear in the auto-complete. He claims this is defamatory as he is not bankrupt. There is a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
France: The Grand Instance Court in Paris has ordered Twitter to identify the authors of anti-semitic tweets by finding a way to alert French authorities to illegal content on its French site, in a case brought by the Union of French Jewish Students [Ars Technica / AFP].
Germany: People have the right to claim compensation from internet service providers (ISPs) if internet access is disrupted, as the internet is now an “essential” part of life, a German court has ruled [Reuters / Jurist].
Malaysia: The Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi filed a defamation claim against Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) strategy advisor Mohd Rafizi Ramli in relation to an article in his blog which, he contends meant meaning that he (Ahmad Zahid) was not competent to hold the post of Defence Minister, misused his power, was irresponsible and in breach of trust.
The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Senator Datuk S. Nallakaruppan against a High Court decision holding him liable of making defamatory statements against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 2008.
Netherlands: In a Dutch copyright case, a high school teacher was ordered to remove hyperlinks to online PDF copies of math answer books on his personal website and pay litigation costs [Future of Copyright / Judgment - in Dutch].
Tuvalu: On 21 December 2012, the Chief Justice gave judgment on damages in the defamation case of Metia v Finikaso ( TVHC 13). General damages of TV$35,000 and aggravated damages of TV$15,000 were awarded.
Next week in the courts
On 28 January 2013, the Court of Appeal (Moore-Bick, Aikens and Black LJJ) will give judgment in the libel costs case of Henry v NGN.
On 30 January 2013 there is an oral application for permission to appeal in the case of Qadir v Associated Newspapers.
On 31 January 2013 there is a pre-trial review in the case of Thompson v James.
On the same day there is the adjourned application in Campbell v Telegraph Media Group
Next week in Parliament
Tuesday 29 January 2013, 8.55am & 2pm, Crime and Courts Bill [HL] Committee. Subject: to consider the Bill. Location: Committee Room 12, Palace of Westminster, House of Commons.
Tuesday 29 January 2013, 8.55am & 2pm, Justice and Security Bill [HL] Committee, Subject: to consider the Bill. Location: Committee Room 10, Palace of Westminster, House of Commons.
Tuesday 29 January 2013, 5.05pm, Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, Subject: Parliamentary Privilege. Witness(es): Mr Charles W Johnson III; David Howarth and Mr Nigel Pleming QC. Location: 4A, House of Commons.
Tuesday 29 January 2013, 10.30am, Science and Technology select committee. Subject: Open Access. Location: Committee Room 4, Palace of Westminster, House of Lords.
Tuesday 29 January 2013, 2pm, Science and Technology select committee, Subject: Open Access. Location: Committee Room 3, Palace of Westminster, House of Lords.
Tuesday 29 January 2013, 2pm, Communications select committee, Subject: Media Convergence, Witness(es): (at 3.30pm) Mr Richard Hooper CBE; Mr Philip Graf CBE; and (at 4.30pm) Mr Ed Richards, CEO, Ofcom. Location: Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster, House of Lords.
Thursday 31 January 2013, 11.30am & 2pm, Crime and Courts Bill [HL] Committee, Subject: to consider the Bill, Location: Committee Room 12, Palace of Westminster, House of Commons.
Thursday 31 January 2013, 11.30am & 2pm, Justice and Security Bill [HL] Committee, Subject: to consider the Bill. Location: Committee Room 10, Palace of Westminster, House of Commons.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Iqbal v Mansoor, heard 31 October 2012 (Rix, Etherton and Lewison LJJ)
Tamiz v Google, heard 3 and 4 December 2012 (Master of the Rolls, Richards and Sullivan LJJ)
Citation PLC -v- Ellis Whittam Limited, heard 5 December 2012 (Laws, Arden and Tomlinson LJJ)
Rothschild v Associated Newspapers heard 12 and 13 December 2012 (Laws, McCombe LJJ and Eady J)
Waterson v Lloyd & Anor heard 17 and 18 December 2012 (Laws, Richards and McCombe LJJ)
Tesla Motors Limited & anr -v- British Broadcasting Corporation, heard 15-16 January 2013 (Maurice Kay, Moore-Bick and Rimer LJJ)
Also on Inforrm last week
- ISPs and defamation law: hold fire, Robert Jay – Ashley Hurst
- Was Leveson wrong to reject a statutory right of reply? – Mark Thomson
- Case Law, Court of Human Rights, Ashby Donald v France, Copyright versus Freedom Expression – Dirk Voorhoof and Inger Høedt-Rasmussen
- Ireland: I still know what you did last Summer, Mr Cowen – Eoin O’Dell
- EU Publishes Report – “A free and pluralistic media to sustain European Democracy”
- The hazards of social media: a brief commentary – Gillie Abbotts
- Ireland: The Prime Minister who went to America to Learn to Become a Leader – Jonathan McCully
- Journalisted weekly, week ending 20 January 2013, Algeria hostages, Lance Armstrong and North Sea
- Defamation Bill: Informal Consultation on Clause 5, Key Issues raised by the regulations – Ashley Hurst
- RocknRoll and News Group Newspapers (and “The Trouble with Harry”) – Jonathan McCully
- Trimingham appeal raises important questions about Leveson and press harassment – Eloise Le Santo
This week’s Round Up was compiled for Inforrm by Judith Townend, a freelance journalist and PhD researcher examining legal restraints on the media, who runs the Meeja Law blog. She is @jtownend on Twitter. Please send suggestions, tips and event listings for inclusion in future round ups to email@example.com.