26.5.04

Media Beak is on holiday

The beak is taking a break and will be back with the latest news and views on the 10th June.

Coming soon: Media Beak will be relaunching this summer with a massive media law web site containing all the news, information and resources you could need for media law - from the latest judgments to online tutorials in media law subjects to online guides for print and broadcast journalists and editors.

20.5.04

Slamming cell doors could be the sound of the summer if you buy counterfeit CD's in Greece

Tourists are being warned to beware that they risk being banged-up in jail if they buy cheap pirated CD's to lend song to their summer holidays in Greece.

The Greek authorities are getting tough on copyright. They say they are not making an example but one unsuspecting punter who bought a couple of pirate CDs from a street vendor in Athens is now serving three months in jail. With nearly half the CDs being sold in Greece being pirated, the campaign to clamp down on counterfeits has moved from the vendors to the buyers - a draconian take on the 'caveat emptor' convention.

More HERE
and from IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industries)HERE

Charges dropped in Spanish soccer sex case

The charges of sexual assault brought against Leicester City players Frank Sinclair, Keith Gillespie and Paul Dickov (see MB below) have been dropped.

Forensic tests having failed to incriminate the players or corroborate the accusations against them, the Spanish court has decided not to proceed with the prosecution.

More from BBC HERE

18.5.04

No stains in Spain as forensic tests fail to link Leicester players to the sexual assualt allegations against them

Forensic tests from that fateful night in La Manga have failed to link the three Leicester City players with the crime of which they were so colourfully accused.

Frank Sinclair, Keith Gillespie and Paul Dickov were banged up in a Spanish jail after 'businesswomen' alleged they had sexually assaulted them. The women's 'business' was subsequently called into question and the players bailed for a six figure sum.

This latest news will come as a relief to the players who have protested their innocence throughout and was welcomed by club Chief Executive Tim Davies.

The media had a feeding frenzy at the time of their arrest as they were added to an expanding roll-call of footballers behaving badly.

The difficulty with such cases is that while footballers may be prone to bad behaviour, it is not necessarily criminal. Last year's case involving premiership players accused of raping a girl at the Grosvenor House highlighted just how messy cases such as this can get.

The Leicester players spanish saga was widely reported because Spain does not have the contempt of court rules which restricts our press back home. However the Grosvenor House allegations got the Attorney General twitching after the accused (and a selection of girlfriends, relatives and random friends) sold their side of the story to the press and the victim hired PR supremo Max Clifford. While we were presented with spectacular media coverage the ensuing case was thrown out after the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was no reasonable chance of securing a conviction on the evidence.

So from the stains in Spain to Park Lane hotels it may be easy to accuse footballers of illegal acts but as these cases show, it will not be as easy to prove a crime. At the end of the day it may well be down to forensic tests and a review of contrasting front pages to determine the cases that end up out of court.

The Spanish judge will now have to decide how to proceed. The accusers may lodge an objection but no doubt the media will make up its mind.

BBC report HERE
Sky News HERE

Final act in bitter battle over comedy play

A long-running feud between the playwright Mary Jones and theatre director Pam Brighton over who was the author of the hit play 'Stones in His Pockets' has finally been settled by the High Court.

This contentious copyright claim dated back to 1996 when Ms Brighton had provided Marie Jones with what was referred to as a 'draft opening script'.

Ms Brighton has alleged and tried to assert ownership over the ensuing play that was written by Marie Jones in 1996 and revised in 1999. The stage play has been an enormous success and was performed in various countries across the world.

Ms Brighton's claim was based on the fact that having provided her draft, she was the joint author of the work.

Section 10(1) of the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 states that: " a work of 'joint authorship' means a work produced by the collaboration of two or more authors in which the contribution of each author is not distinct from that of the other author "

Having felt that Marie Jones didn't value her creative input the relationship between Brighton and Jones had deteriorated and what was finally authored was therefore anything but collaborative.

The reworking and writing of the play also meant it could be seen as a distinct or new copyright work.

The judge, Mr Justice Park actually took the trouble to see the play when it was on at the New Ambassadors Theatre before ruling in the case.

He said that Marie Jones was the sole author of the copyright work but that for future purposes, the input provided by Ms Brighton in the form of her 'draft opening script' was sufficient to require her consent to be sought for future exploitation of the work. This does put a significant constraint on Marie Jone's freedom to use the play.

More details HERE
Doublejoint Theatre Company - founded by Brighton and Jones before their artistic troubles began.

17.5.04

Latest OFCOM rulings: You can have Love but don't say 'fuck' on a Saturday night

Ofcom has today issued its latest complaints bulletin.

ITV came under fire for allowing the word 'fuck' onto two of its programmes - Love on a Saturday Night and the Brit Awards. A surprised contestant got expletive on the channel's Love show while rapper 50 Cent's lyrics caused offence when they appeared on the subtitles during the Brit Awards.

Meanwhile on CBBC, kids show 'Stitch Up' caused offence after a Greek tourist who was tricked into performing a horror sketch for the show slipped into Greek vernacular, promising to do something sexual with a third person's mother. A Greek speaking viewer complained and Ofcom ruled that this was serious:"While we appreciated the efforts made by the broadcaster prior to broadcast, we felt that as the person consulted had not recognised the words, the onus was on the broadcaster to make further enquiries, given the programme's likely audience."

Mirror may have been hoaxed but are the public being cheated?

Political, military and ultimately shareholder pressure may have claimed the latest media scalp in a war no-one wanted but while press and politicians play hardball the public are being short-changed in their quest for the truth.

The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment may have ignited the fuse that blasted Morgan out of Canary Wharf but it will be easier to sort out what goes on the front page than it is to sort out what’s been happening on the frontline.

Showing torture pictures may be putting our soldiers at risk but the real danger lies behind the headlines. The dust may have settled on the fake pictures but they have opened up an unfortunate window on war and practices which have previously not been called into question.

What has made recent events so horrifying is the fact that whether it be the authentic American photos or the fake British ones, there are people who see fit to take pictures of such practices. There can only be three reasons – as part of a deliberate process to use in interrogation; as trophies for a few misled soldiers; or to expose either of these practices.

However the various pictures came about the public has a right to some answers and while the Mirror should have been checking the fakes others should have been checking the facts about what has been happening behind the scenes and why it has taken fakes to expose Red Cross and Amnesty reports about those facts.

While truth may count as the first casualty of any war, the quest for the truth is what responsible journalism is all about. While journalists should be responsible, politicians have a corresponding duty to their electorate to be accountable. However, these duties have been damaged in the cross-fire as both sides wage their own war with each other. So as the battle rages over what should be allowed onto the front pages the public are being denied the debates we should be having.

Only the people who provided the pictures Piers decided to publish will know the truth behind their story. The fate of Dr David Kelly may have put off many a whistleblower and the true tales behind the fake photos may now never come to light. Journalists have a duty to protect their sources and that duty extends to Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ who provided the pictures. Only they know whether it was an horrific hoax or a deep-rooted desire to expose wrongdoing. As things stand it could be up to a court of law to force the truth to be told. That could turn out to be a seriously bad news day for all.

German court rules that TV broadcasters allowed to change their published schedule

An interesting case arose in Germany last week where a disgruntled viewer took state broadcaster ZDF to court for altering its schedule.
The viewer had wanted to watch the regular lunchtime news bulletins "Heute" and "ZDF Mittagsmagazin" and was outraged to find the channel was broadcasting live footage from the Danish royal wedding.
The administrative court in Mainz (sensibly) ruled in favour of the broadcaster saying that an individual viewer had no rights to a specific programme or schedule. The judgment said that while there were certain duties public broadcasters had to observe, it was down to them how they set out and adapted their schedule.

Report (in German) from DWDL.de

14.5.04

Papers fail to overturn Carr injunction

Death threats and her exposure to 'risks disproportionate to her crime' have persuaded Mr Justice Eady that the far-reaching restraining order preventing the media from publishing or seeking to find out details of Maxine Carr's whereabouts or identity, should remain in place.

See MB below.
More details HERE

Papers set to challenge Carr injunction

Several papers are heading to the High Court this afternoon to challenge the court order granted to Carr yesterday.

They feel that the wide-ranging restrictions (see MB below) are excessive. While there is acceptance of the ban on directly identifying Carr, the ban on her surrounding circumstances is seen as an intrusion on the media's freedom of expression. The debate in court will be about whether the desire to protect Carr from physical abuse and danger should outweigh the public's right to know and media's right to report on her general circumstances.

It could turn out to be textbook stuff with the court turning to Article 10 of the European Convention. This does provide for freedom of speech and expression but clause 2 of the article contains a significant claw-back that makes an exception in cases where national security or the protection of others is at stake. There is a requirement that any restrictions imposed under the clause are 'necessary in a democratic society' - so it could come down to whether the level of protection granted to Carr is deemed 'necessary'.

The order as it currently stands is perhaps tougher on internet service providers whose customers may well be outside jurisdiction and post prohibited material which the ISP then makes available in England and Wales. In response to the Bulger case Demon Internet did successfully challenge its application to ISPs thereby placing liability on the customer rather than service provider. Whether the same rules would apply or be accepted in Carr's case needs to be ascertained.

More from BBC HERE
More from Media Guardian HERE


Carr secures court protection

Maxine Carr who is released from prison today has obtained a far-reaching court order that bans the press from revealing or showing pictures of her new identity.

While this type of injunction is nothing new - in the case of the Jamie Bulger killers both boys were granted anonymity for life - the scope of the protection pronounced for Carr is significantly further-reaching than anything issued before.

It extends beyond print and broadcast media to the internet and internet service providers who have a duty to ensure they take reasonable steps to prevent any information about Carr's identity or wherabouts being published on or using their services.

The media are not just prohibited from indentifying Carr but also from seeking to elicit information about her life or whereabouts. In other words, anything relating to Carr or her new life is strictly off limits.

However the court order only applies to England and Wales so it will be interesting to see what would happen if details emerged in other jurisdictions.

13.5.04

PCC reveals its revised Code

The Press Complaints Commission has today unveiled its revised Code of Conduct which is due to come into effect on June 1st.

The Editor's Code of Practice Committee has revised the code in a bid to make it "shorter and crisper" as well as providing for expanding areas such as digital communications.

The key changes include:
>Re-emphasises that editors and publishers have the ultimate duty of care to implement the Code.
>Stresses that its rules apply to all editorial contributors, including non-journalists.
>Makes clear that it covers online versions of publications as well as printed copies.
>Insists that publications which are criticised in adverse adjudications should include a reference to the PCC in the headline.
>Extends the protection of private correspondence to include digital communications – prohibiting the interception of private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails, unless in the public interest.
>Introduces a new rule to prevent payment to criminals for material which seeks to exploit, glorify or glamorise crime.
>Tightens the rules so that a newspaper which paid a criminal in the belief that it would elicit material in the public interest could not publish if no public interest emerged.

The Beckham textsex saga seems to have influenced the extension of protection relating to correspondence so that text messages would now be covered - unless proved to be in the public interest.

MB is also pleased to note that the revised code has done away with the derided reference to longlens photography and clause 3(2) now simply becomes "It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent" - this does however leave scope for photographing in public places.

Read the revised Code HERE

The existing Code HERE

Guardian comment HERE

12.5.04

ASA says Armani ad made child seem too sexualised

The Advertising Standards Authority has today upheld a complaint against an advert for Armani Junior clothes.

The advert which had appeared in Times Magazine showed a topless child in baggy jeans with long hair and a necklace. The complaint under sections 2.2 (Principles), 5.1 (Decency) and 47.2 (Children) of the ASA code said the advert "was offensive, because it sexualised children and encouraged them to emulate adults, exploited the child in the photo and, especially, because the gender of the child was ambiguous and could encourage paedophiles."

The model had in fact been a boy but Orthet Ltd. who were responsible for the advert said it had withdrawn it. The Times had also received 10 complaints.

The ASA adjudication said that "because it sexualised the child, the advertisement was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. It welcomed the advertisers' decision to withdraw the advertisement and advised them to seek advice from the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising again."

PM may get to prove pictures fake but what they have exposed is far more real and far more worrying

Having mobilised massive military might to prove the Mirror's photos fake, Tony Blair and Geoff Hoon will (again) think it's not their fault and it was all down to that terrible Morgan chappy at the Mirror. Meanwhile Alistair Cambpell is pontificating from beyond the grave of his political career and taking up the mantle of the free speech mantra while blaming the press for the spectre of spin.

So Piers Morgan may be pushing the limits of responsible journalism to expose inhumane practices and politicians who remain in denial of anything that suggests their information is less frontline than the journalism that upsets them, but thankfully someone is.

Tabloid turncoats may be trying to call time on Morgan's reign and the Mirror's domination of the headlines but they are missing the same point as our displeased politicians. All is not well in Iraq, our soldiers face torment and some of their captives torture. This is the backlash of war and no desert sandstorm or political spin is going to gloss over this.

If the effort the Ministry of Defence and military investigators have put into discrediting the authenticity of a Bedford truck had gone into policing their troops on the ground we might not be facing these issues. It is they who have failed not just their captives but also their soldiers and their public.

So before the politicians point their fingers at the press they should take stock of the story and face up to the facts. The picture the Mirror printed may prove to be fake - but only insofar as what it depicted was staged. The facts remain the same and it is these facts that it is the duty of responsible journalists to expose. News stories are made up of both and as Lord Hoffman, giving judgment in the Campbell case, recognised in the House of Lords last week "From a journalistic point of view, photographs are an essential part of the story. The picture carried the message, more strongly than anything in the text alone, that the Mirror's story was true". You can only carry out so many checks on pictures but there is no denying that the story that accompanied them was true. It is time to recognise this and shift the debate to what is going to be done about this.

The situation in Iraq remains an unpalatable mess that no vote-winnning war of words or revenue-generating headlines are going to clear up. The Hutton Inquiry may have exonerated the Government from the charge that it misled the country when it took us to war, but with that political and military battle won the fall-out is not going to be as easily whitewashed from our front pages.

11.5.04

Chanel enjoys the sweet smell of success

The sun has set on Samantha Roddick's dreams of registering a trademark for her upmarket sex shop that promises its customers to "titillate every extremity". Inspired by her mother's (Anita Roddick) Body Shop chain but keen to cater for the more sensual end of the massage oil and passion potion market, Samantha opened Coco de Mer in Covent Garden a couple of years ago. She decided to name her shop after the palm nut which was described to the High Court as a "potent and particularly feminine symbol of fertility".

But Roddick's desire to make her mark was dashed this week when Mr Justice Patten upheld the trade mark registrar's refusal to grant her a trade mark. Her shop may be upmarket but it was not classy enough to compete with the Parisian style of Chanel. Having got scent of Roddick's trade mark application the company, which has since 1984 marketed its own highly successful 'Coco' cosmetic brand, wanted to ensure there would be no confusion. They launched an objection claiming that this allusion to the essence of fertile nut should not be permitted to tarnish the reputation of their designer fragrances.

In a fascinating judgment that included much historical analysis of palm trees and nuts as well as a drawing, Mr Justice Patten sided with Chanel and found for the fragrant rather than the fertile brand.

Coco de Mer nut explained HERE

The legend of the nut and its fertile properties HERE

10.5.04

Beeb finds its editors not to blame for Gilligan's gaffe

The post Hutton Spanish inquisition at the BBC has cleared its editors of improper conduct and failing to follow procedures.

Hutton had blamed a breakdown of procedures and the BBC as being the root of all evil in his cleaning of the government's wartime laundry but as was widely recognised by those conversant with media matters it was Gilligan's unscripted early morning mutterings that caused all the trouble.

So there will be no sackings as the board decides not to alienate any more of its staff.

BBC report HERE

Kate Moss not OK! with holiday snaps

You'd have thought that their victory over Hello magazine in the Douglas-Zeta-Jones case would have alerted OK! to the perilous waters of privacy. Not so it would seem as they went ahead and published holiday snaps of Kate Moss on a beach with her baby girl.

Hot on the heels of fellow supermodel Naomi Campbell's courtroom success for invasion of her privacy, Moss is now armed with a powerful precedent with which to go knocking at OK!'s door.

Moss has instructed her lawyers Harbottle & Lewis to look into the matter after being outraged by the publication of these illicit pictures. Her cause for concern was exacerbated by the fact the photos included her daughter, whose privacy she closely guards.

Publishing pictures of children - which Clause 6(v) of the PCC code tells us should not be done because of their parents' celebrity status - is a no go area. Whether Kate Moss will complain to the PCC remains to be seen but MediaBeak for one thinks this unlikely as litigation or the threat thereof proves far more effective.

There has been ample debate about whether a beach is a place where you should enjoy a 'reasonable expectation of privacy' but a string of cases have confirmed that unless its a private beach you're quite literally exposed. Anna Ford found this out to her detriment when she complained to the PCC about pictures of her on the beach. Kate Beckinsale was also denied a remedy after the Mail published pictures of her with her partner and young daughter Lily in a park. Again, as the park was not private the PCC did not see fit to rule that protection was in order.

Back on the beach and Sarah Cox and Ewan McGregor decided to bypass the annoyance of an impotent PCC ruling and went straight to court. In both cases an injunction and damages were awarded.

The fact that the pictures were taken using longlens photography is hardly worth debating and as a clause in the PCC code is only observed in its breach. It matters not what technology is used to obtain the image but the fact the ensuing image is published that counts.

7.5.04

PCC announces 'buoyant' first quarter figures

The Press Complaints Commission has announced that complaints against the press for the first quarter of this year have been in line with those for previous years.

50 per cent of investigations into breaches of the Code of Practice related to regional press with 40 per cent being bagged by national titles. The remainder relate to magazines and other titles.

Read the PCC release HERE

6.5.04

Campbell wins landmark victory for privacy - but what will this mean for the press?

Full analysis from Guardian Media:
HERE
HERE

House of Lords judgment HERE

Mirror comment HERE

COMING UP ...House of Lords judgment in Naomi Campbell's case against the Mirror

MediaBeak will bring you details of the judgment and analysis of its implications for privacy and the media shortly after the judgment is handed down today.

Expensive lick of paint to get Government off the hook
The final costs of the HUTTON INQUIRY have been announced and the meticulous manner in which it was found that no-one but the BBC was to blame has cost the humble taxpayer over 2.5 million pounds. Value for money? Well it helped the Government be found whiter than white and John Scarlett to become head of M16 so not all's lost then!

Full figures on BBC

5.5.04

Irish politician settles libel suit

Leader of the Progressive Democrats Tanaiste Mary Harney has today settled her long-running libel case against the Sunday Independent. In an article appearing in January 2001, the paper had suggested Harney received 'payments of a corrupt nature' in relation to property development.

In a brief hearing at the High Court in Dublin, Independent Newspapers (who own the Sunday Independent) confirmed that they had reached a settlement with Harney. In addition to libel damages the paper promised to print a full apology in its next edition.

Full report from Ireland Online

Impact of this and other cases on Irish libel laws HERE
Reynolds v Times Newspapers

4.5.04

Daily Record scores own goal

Scots tabloid the Daily Record is facing a big bill for upsetting Celtic manager Martin O'Neill. Amid speculation that O'Neill was to quit Celtic for Liverpool, the Record ran a story last February claiming he had already signed a legal document to that effect. The article also claimed that the deal had been done before he announced he'd renewed his contract with Celtic.

O'Neill was forced to issue statements denying the story, an episode that according to his lawyer caused him "great distress and anxiety" (normally reserved for watching his club play).

In a brief statement to the High Court in London, the Daily Record offered an apology to O'Neill and agreed 'substantial' damages.

Not afraid to litigate, O'Neill has previously been awarded similarly substantial damages against the Observer when it suggested he was off to Manchester United.

Ironically for the Daily Record:
1: O'Neill's been named Scottish Football Writers' top manager of the year
2: The rumours that got the paper in trouble are again rife

Link to Celtic FC