30.6.04

Irresponsible tabloid tripe

We had all the headlines about being ruthlessly robbed of our place in Euro 2004 and the usual post mortem of the game and the injustice England had to suffer at being knocked out of the championship.

That much is fair play and fair comment but the match is over and we have to accept that as fans or as journalists we were watching a game that has certain rules as well as certain uncertainties.

So we have to ask ourselves whether launching a media campaign against the much maligned Mr Meier who refereed that fateful game is either useful or responsible.

Plastering an England flag outside his house may seem intrusive but arguably is fair cop as a picture gag for the tabloid press. However, taking matters further and publishing his e-mail address transgresses the bounds or responsible journalism. It is ironic that while the BBC is busying itself with plans to send its journalists back to school, the press can get away with fuelling the fire of those bad sports out there who consider football games to be a matter of the utmost national importance and while not necessarily prepared to fight for their country will fight for their football.

Blaming the Sun among others, Mr Meier has now been forced into hiding and is receiving police protection against the death threats he has received. Did news editors really think that the e-mail address they printed would attract the attention of people who may want to enter into civilised dialogue with Mr Meier?

Meanwhile a portrait of David Beckham has been defaced at the Fifa 100 exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.
(report HERE)

Its one thing to convey the population's disappointment over their football team losing a game but another to encourage a nation of bad losers who are only prepared to accept the score they settle by seeking to avenge the innocent actions of football players and referees.

29.6.04

Mattel counts the cost of defending Barbie's honour

Barbie is proving a costly commodity for toymaker Mattel who have just lost their most recent legal battle to preserve the honour of their world-famous doll.

The company had filed suit against an artist after taking exception to his use of Barbie in a collection of photographs that were part of a critique of 'the materialistic and gender-oppressive values' the dolls are accused of embodying. Little could the first Barbies in 1959 have known that they would come to be held responsible for 20th century gender oppression.

Mattel wanted to preserve Barbie's dignity and also ensure that its customers did not associate the company with such politicisation if its dolls.

Utah based artist Tom Forsythe started this saga with his collection of photos that sought to sexualise Barbie. At the centre of the dispute was a photo in which four Barbie dolls had been subjected to the harrowing ordeal of being wrapped in tortillas and thrown in the oven to produce 'Barbie Enchiladas'.

Mattel, which lost its case against Forsythe back in December has now been ordered to pay legal fees and court costs in excess of 1.8 million dollars. Not only did the appeal court judges rule that the artist had a first amendment right to parody the dolls but went on to say that Mattel's lawsuit 'may have been groundless and unreasoanble'. Harsh words for the defender of the dolls' dignity.

Mattel has not had much luck in the courts when it comes to protecting Barbie. Back in 2002 a court ruled that bondage Barbie or 'Dungeon Doll' as her UK creator called her was not an infringement of Barbie's copyright.
Details HERE

Further Barbie court cases
HERE
HERE

US Supreme Court blocks Internet Porn Law

The United States Supreme Court has blocked the controversial 1998 Child Online Protection Act (COPA) after a majority ruling decided that could be in breach of the right to free speech granted by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Passed by Congress in 1998 the law has yet to come into effect and intorduced a range of measures aimed at protecting children against internet porn.

What made the measures so controversial was the fact that they would have required all users wishing to access 'adult' sites to register details. Free speech campaigners said that this posed an undue restriction on people's right to communicate freely and consequently was a violation of their First Amendment rights in this context.

Ruling 5 to 4 against the Act, the Supreme Court sided with the view that there were other methods for safeguarding children against porn sites that were less restrictive on the legitimate rights of adults to view such sites (assuming the sites contained material that was itself not grossly indecent or illegal!)

The other concern voiced by web publishers was that under the Act, large fines could be handed out to anyone who placed material that was harmful to minors on the net. Taken literally, this would render hundreds of sites and vast quantities of material potentially illegal.

The effect of the Supreme Court ruling is to make legislators take a fresh look at the law and address the fundamental issue that lies in access rather than availability of pornographic material on the internet.

Both sides will now have to present their arguments before a lower court which will pass judgment on whether the law, if brought into force, would violate the First Amendment.

14.6.04

Ofcom slams Fox news for BBC slur

Ofcom has today delivered its most recent adjudications and upheld complaints against Fox news and ITV.

Fox anchor John Gibson is known for delivering punchy opinions at the end of Fox's news programme 'The Big Story' but his 'My Word' at the end of January was a scathing attack on the BBC. In the wake of Hutton's findings that day he accused the BBC of, among other things, lying and engaging in 'frothing-at-the-mouth anti-americansim'.

His diatribe attracted 24 complaints and Ofcom was not impressed with Fox's defence of its position or omission to give the BBC a right of reply.

Read the ruling HERE

In another adjudication, Ofcom also upheld complaints over the level of violence depicted in the ITV drama Wire in the Blood. A brutal murder scene screened moments after the 9pm watershed had passed was deemed excessive violence that 'would have gone beyond viewers' expectations' even for such a dark drama.

Ruling HERE

Becks wins payout over 'golden balls' pics

The picture agency that provided the front page pictures of Beckham fiddling with his pants on a hotel balcony in Lisbon has been forced to pay out substantial damages for the intrusion into Beckham's privacy.
Big Pictures provided the shot of Beckham in just his pants and sunglasses which the Sun and Star newspapers used last Thursday. Its photographer must have been using extreme longlens photography to grab his picture from beyond the 500m security cordon around the England players' hotel. This contravenes the PCC code but is also an intrusion into privacy. The Football Association has taken a tough stance on tabloids and their snappers intruding on the England team in the run-up and during the Euro 2004 championship.
Recent cases involving photos of celebrities in private places have seen a tougher stance being taken against the press and where they decide to litigate, celebrities usually have the courts finding in their favour.
Beckham has had a rough ride with the press over the past few months and still licking his wounds from his sextext saga has also threatened legal action over pictures of him on a beach with his son Brooklyn.
After yesterday's tragic start to Euro 2004 he may well wish to keep the press at bay.