25.10.05

Big win, big fee, placing unjust pressure on the press


The decision to make the Mirror pay for the privilege that Naomi Campbell enjoyed in the form of a conditional fee agreement highlights a profoundly unsatisfactory state of affairs for the press when it comes to defending claims brought against them.

Read full article on MediaGuardian.co.uk HERE

24.10.05

Ofcom censures BBC for screening Pulp Fiction too close to watershed



Ofcom has published its latest complaints bulletin today.

Its ruled that the BBC's decision to screen Pulp Fiction soon after the 9pm watershed on its prime-time Saturday night schedule breached its code. The excessive levels of abusive language and violence, while consistent with this genre of film, were not appropriate for screening at a time when audience research showed that younger viewers may still be watching.

Full OFCOM BULLETIN HERE

4.10.05

Stone slams fashion houses for ditching Moss


Sharon Stone launched more than a product when she took to the stage for Christian Dior in Paris earlier today. Using her platform at the heart of the city's fashion world, she slammed the various labels who had ditched Kate Moss over the recent 'Cocaine Kate' saga saying: "Whether or not a house stands with her or not through it says more about the house than it does about her."

She went on to say that people should be allowed to make mistakes in their life, apologise and just get on with it. (MediaBeak says: unless of course you've upset a tabloid by forcing them to pay you large libel damages for a similar claim, in which case they'll be after pay-back OR are an embattled Metropolitan Police Commissioner who decides to raid hangouts of your associates and stage a crack-down on the monstrous crime of personal use of cocaine)

Stone invited anyone free from sin to throw one at her and concluded: "If you are in here and haven't made a mistake, I'd like to meet you because I've been waiting for Jesus — and today would be the day,"

So while the Mossey posse flee from the Met, Kate can take comfort in knowing that today's laughter in Paris was in her support rather than at her expense.

More:
Reuters
Picture credit:Reuters

3.10.05

'Innocent' downloader sues RIAA for hacking her computer


As reported on Recording Industry vs The People - a blog "devoted to the RIAA's lawsuits of intimidation brough against ordinary working people" - the litigation tables have been turned in the ongoing battle against piracy.

The Recording Industry Association of America (whose logo I have reproduced merely to guide interested readers to their web pages for more information - so RIAA please don't think about busting me for trade mark or copyright infringement!) has been busy prosecuting thousands of individuals for illegally downloading music and recently targeted 17 college campuses at Universities in the US, issuing 757 individuals with lawsuits for illegally distributing copyrighted material on the internet. (So all you students take note, if you're illegally downloading and file-sharing on campus it could be you getting busted next!)

One of the many thousands being sued was a single mum living in Oregon who was charged with downloading gangster rap at 4:24am in the morning. Not only does she claim she's never downloaded music, she hates gangster rap and certainly wouldn't be up at 4 in the morning trying to get hold of it. Outraged by the RIAA's legal action, she decided to investigate their claim. She discovered that in order to identify her someone must have hacked into her computer and had a look at her files.

So while the RIAA alleges she's been engaged in nocturnal downloading under the identity of gotenkito@kazaa.com, she's decided to get even and is suing them for invasion of privacy, electrnonic trespass and general dodgy dealing. She says she's never heard of that online name (so will the real gotenkito please step forward - not that they're likely to!)

She claims that the RIAA hired a company to hack into personal computers and have a snoop around to see if any illegal downloading of file sharing has gone on. If this were true, then that would be a concerning case of big brother behaviour.

The problem is that the very nature of file-sharing software is that it allows open access. So it would be easy to get into the computer when its linked up online and 'sharing'. If, as she claims, she's never downloaded - and her child or pet hamster hasn't been secretly doing so - then it would appear the RIAA has got it wrong (or been given the online grocery ordering list by mistake).

Either way, it should make for an interesting test case.

More:
About the case HERE
RIAA
For information on the UK see the BPI site

Internet regulation best left to industry

Ofcom boss Stephen Carter considers self-regulation to be the way forward for controlling online content.
In an interview with The Times (see Timesonline HERE) he acknowledges that the time has come to address how best to control what gets published on the internet.

The EU is keen to bring in legislative measures to provide for cross-border controls over content. As with any attempt by the EU to legislate across its territories, this is likely to be fraught with complexities and take far too much time. The problem with any attempt to legislate for the net is that by the time a law gets agreed, drafted and passed, the technololgy will have moved on and a raft of new issues will have emerged.

Whether its porn or paedophiles, its the people the laws need to target as much as their medium. The net has given them a vastly extended neighbourhood but it still takes the person to commit the crime. Similarly, less heinous illegal activity such as downloading is made possible via the net but it still takes the person to do the downloading. So going down a route of introducing draconian laws to clamp down on the net is more likely to stifle good things than successfully capture and prosecute the bad.

While the net may make cross-border cybercrime easier, it does not provide an excuse to extend existing laws beyond their natural boundaries. This was tested in the context of online libel in a Canadian case last week - which Siobhain Butterworth, legal director of Guardian Newspapers describes in her article The not so world wide web (well worth a read)

So, while Ofcom may have enough on its plate, Carter sees sense in adopting a self-regulatory approach. It makes sense that those providing the technology and content can come up with ways of dealing with it. At the end of the day it makes more sense for content providers and ISPs to properly police themselves. This will give their law-abiding users confidence in their service while keeping the unwelcome spectre of ill-fitting legislation at bay. As with any community, there will always be unwelcome criminals but the technology they use to perpetrate their crime is also provides the trail to trap them.

2.10.05

Writers seek to make ITV pay for repeats

It's bad enough having to put up with so many repeats on tv but it now appears that broadcasters have also been trying to get out of paying for them.

A report in today's Observer says that some top telly screenwriters are seeking payment from ITV for showing their programmes on its digital channels. The writers claim that a loophole is being exploited in their royalty agreements which is short-changing them over their fees. (MediaBeak says - that's the danger of sloppy drafting - you always need to read your royalty agreements both ways round to ensure that to the extent you leave any loopholes, they are there for you to exploit).

According to the claims, the broadcaster is selling the programmes on to its other channels rather than screening them as a repeat. This lets them pay the writers less - a cunning plan.

So it may seem like cheap tv to ITV but their quick fix for content could come at a price if the writers successfully sue them.

More:
HERE

30.9.05

Conditional Fee Agreements under fire


As Sharon Stone seems set to launch a libel action on a no-win, no-fee basis, MediaBeak asks whether this could prove a case too far for critics of a system that's designed to give the poorer access to justice but is being used by the rich and is overinflating court costs.

Read MediaBeak's full comment on MediaGuardian.co.uk

29.9.05

Mirror off the hook as Blunkett's blonde speaks out


As MediaBeak reported on Monday, a disgruntled David Blunkett said he was going to report the Mirror to the PCC over its story of his relationship with 29 year old Sally Anderson. He was upset by how his own comments turned out in print to reveal his latest 'love interest'.

According to today's Press Gazette Blunkett and the Mirror have kissed and made up - he's no longer going to complain to the PCC while the Mirror has offered to print a 'clarification' in respect of its story - a story + quotes, which MediaBeak notes it still says it stands by 100 per cent - oh the semantics of it all!

Here's MediaBeak's clarification:
Blunkett maintined his relationship was 'platonic'
Sally Anderson describes him as 'passionate' and ditched her boyfriend.

If he wants his private life to be kept out of the spotlight then he might consider finding 'paltonic' friends who have not got boyfriends or husbands. If Sally Anderson's been speaking to the Mail today, what's to stop her dumped boyfriend speaking to the Mirror tomorrow!

More:
Sally Anderson speaks to the Daily Mail
Press Gazette - Mirror appeases Blunkett
MediaBeak - Blunkett blasts Mirror

27.9.05

High stakes if Moss decides to take a gamble on Nine.com deal


Nine.com are keeping relatively quiet about the deal they've supposedly faxed to Kate Moss's agency. Today's New York Daily News is running the story in its Lowdown section and confirms that Nine.com has offered Moss a five year sponsorship deal valued at 5 million dollars.

While Nine.com spokesperson Jack Abrams is keen to see Moss promote his company's online gaming site after a 'real quick focus group' confirmed that it would be good to get Mossy on their posse, the terms of the deal may be as hard to swallow as the rehab regime and 'corporate retreat' they proscribe.

Kate's already thought to be in rehab and after slapping on some of that new Rimmel product - aptly named 'Recovery' - she's more likely to be seen sliding her way onto the catwalk than hiding herself away on a corporate retreat.

26.9.05

Sponsors take gamble on Kate

According to onlinecasinonews.com Kate Moss has been thrown a lifeline by online gaming group Nine.com

The report attributes the following comment to Jack Abrams, Nine.com spokesperson:
“We at Nine.com believe in second chances. The fashion industry is extremely hypocritical; they perpetuate the ideal that all models must be stick thin in order to be successful, yet they act appalled when these pressured models go to extraordinary means to maintain this image. There’s a better way and we’ll help Ms. Moss find it”

MediaBeak is checking this out to verify the story and the deal - more soon.....

Ofcom criticises BBC over 7/7 bombing footage


The latest OFCOM bulletin published today criticises BBC News and News 24 over their coverage of the July 7th London bombings. Among the harrowing news pictures screened on various channels that day, the BBC showed footage of a critically ill man being stretchered into hospital as medics tried to resuscitate him.

While this image had also been used by other broadcasters, the BBC had not properly put it in the context that the severity of the situation demanded. The news anchor had merely tossed over to the pictures with the generic intro 'let's take a look at some of the pictures coming in from the Royal London (hospital)'.

MediaBeak's view:
Its one thing streaming live pictures that contain troubling images but there are two things that need to be remembered (and for which in Mediabeak's view the BBC was rightly rapped):

1: If one has live pictures being fed into a programme that contain graphic images of injury, violence or of a similarly disturbing and personal nature, insofar as one takes the editorial decision not to cut away from them or switch back to the studio or another feed, then one should ensure that the presenter puts them in context in an appropriate and sensitive manner.

2: If one is working with a tape or feed that is 'as live' but not actually streaming live into the programme, then one should edit out graphic images of this nature until they can be properly packaged in context.

Ofcom's decision stated:
"It appeared to us that the pictures were used generically and the commentary did not reflect the seriousness of the images being transmitted. We welcome the BBC’s admission that the images had not been viewed properly, and its acknowledgement that they should not have been put to air in such a manner."

In relation to ITV's news coverage the regulator concluded:
"The script established a clear narrative context and the pictures were sensitively ‘written to’. We considered this was an appropriate treatment of the incident, given the very exceptional events of the day and did not breach the Code."

While Channel 4 who also used the pictures was held not to be n breach of the code:
"The pictures were not used casually and the item was voiced appropriately. The script referred to the timings of the bombings but did not fully reflect the enormity of the images that were being transmitted. Nevertheless, their use was not careless and – on balance – we consider that Channel 4 also had not breached the Programme Code."

More:
Ofcom
Ofcom Complaints Bulletin 26-09-05
MediaGuardian.co.uk

Blunkett blasts Mirror over blonde


A stroppy David Blunkett has attacked The Mirror over its front-page story about his 'platonic' relationship with a 29 year-old blonde. Blunkett claims he never made the comments the Mirror attributes to a recorded interview with him and will be refering the matter to the Press Complaints Commission.

Having finally been forced to resign as Home Secretary last year amid allegations of fast-tracking a visa for the nanny of his former mistress Kimberly Quinn, Blunkett has bounced back as Work and Pensions Secretary. He said that his relationship with the blonde trainee opera singer was 'purely platonic' and part of getting on with his life.

He might be dismissing newspaper reports as 'tittle tattle' but obviously takes them seriously enough to complain about them. Only last month he had a run-in with the Evening Standard over an interview it ran that he claimed had not been intended for publication but merely to help a journalism student with her assignment. (see HERE)

The divisions he is suggesting the public make between his private and work life also need to be made by him when giving interviews - let's face it, how many reporters record interviews with no intention of publishing them?

More:
BBC

23.9.05

Kate tries to save face as Rimmel reconsiders

According to the Press Association, cosmetics firm Rimmel may not be jumping on the 'let's kick Kate while she's down' bandwagon and has acknowledged the apology she issued through model agency Storm yesterday.

Having been ditched by H&M, Chanel and Burberry, today's response from Coty , which owns the Rimmel brand may offer some respite:
"In light of this statement, and Kate's determination to address these issues, Coty Beauty is currently reviewing its relationship with her and will continue to do so."

Stop this sleazy stitch-up and get on with real news and proper policing



MediaBeak is calling time-out on this story. Its been running a week and the coverage is totally disproportionate to the alleged crimes that have been committed.

It's a disgrace and waste of precious police time that there should be (as the Mirror puts it) 'a swoop on the Mossy posse'.

Faced with the enduring threat of terrorism and increasing racial and social unrest why is it that our top cop, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair considers it necessary to personally launch an investigation into Kate' s coke taking.

Surely he should be more concerned with examining evidence such as the cctv footage released of the July 7th London bombers rehearsing for their atrocity rather than studying the grainy snaps splashed all over the Mirror.

It would seem that Sir Ian has been learning the art of spin from his political namesake Tony. Faced with pressure to resign following the shooting of Charles de Menezes, what better way of taking the heat off yourself than stepping into the week-long news story mauling fragile Mossy. What a great diversion. If he diverts any resource from more serious crime to staking out the fashionistas of Primrose Hill then he should resign.

Meanwhile the media are doing their best to squeeze all they can out of what some believe are the dying embers of Kate's career and the media's attempts at killing it.

Having headed up the offensive, The Mirror kept up its coverage with today's front page proclaiming Kate's apology and then using that as an excuse to print more pictures and rehashed copy.

The News of the World got its angle with its '3 in a bed lesbian orgies' story at the weekend while

The Sun produced its 'exclusive' yesterday claiming 'Kate's on crack'. The paper alleged that 'cocaine Kate' and chums were using the harder and more addictive drug, crack cocaine.

This was met with a firm rebuke from Kate's lawyer Gerrard Tyrrell at Harbottle & Lewis who said his client 'specifically denied' these claims. The paper toned down today's coverage with its witty headline about Kate being a 'snorty girl' .

The Daily Star finally joined in today reminding Kate how all this trouble had not been worth it with its headline about the 16 year old girl Pete is supposed to have dumped her for.

At the rate things are going and with someone, in the form of Kate Moss, having been fired (several times over), it won't be long before someone gets sued (new reality show idea for TV execs - 'the litigator: someone's going to get sued'). Whether it will be The Sun or any of the other tabloids remains to be seen. Kate may have said sorry but she's been cautious in relation to what she's actually said. Her caution has not been met by similar restraint on the part of the media or Sir Ian Blair. To prosecute Kate for coke you need solid evidence. To defend a defamation action you need more than a puff of powder. The contracts she's losing come at a cost and at the end of the day it may not be she who pays the final price.

It may be coincidence that as recently as July the Sunday Mirror was left licking its wounds after being forced to pay substantial libel damages to Mossy over its claims she'd collapsed in a cocaine-fuelled coma. She may do coke but they couldn't substantiate those claims. The Mirror may have been able to recoup some of the costs its sister title was forced to pay by exposing this latest 'cocaine Kate' story but you don't need to be too seasoned a pundit to predict that her career will outlast the currency of this story.

No ball games - court orders tv channel to hand over documents as mega media trial gets underway in Australia



The crowds have been filling Sydney's Federal Court since Seven Network's epic billion dollar legal action kicked off earlier this month. The broadcaster was forced to close its C7 pay-tv sports channel after it failed to win any of the crucial broadcasting rights it needed to be able to cover the country's football and rugby league games.

The company claimed that Rupert Murdoch's company was behind a conspiracy to block C7 by doing deals with other companies and outbidding C7 over broadcast rights in order to ensure a monopoly. Seven has issued proceedings against the 22 different parties it held responsible for the demise of C7 after the loss of rights left it with a gaping hole in its 2000 sports schedule.

The amount of lawyers involved makes for a full court house before any of the estimated fifty witnesses and the press and public squeeze their way in. Seven has hired top UK lawyer Jonathan Sumption QC from Brick Court Chambers to represent it in court.

Over 50,000 documents have so far been uncovered in the pre-trial discovery process and the court ruled yesterday that Seven was obliged to hand over further documents to the 22 parties it is suing. Seven was trying to sit tight on several documents claiming they were covered by professional privilege as they contained advice from its lawyers. The court was not convinced by this claim and ruled that the privilege the company was seeking didn't attach to comminucations 'made for the sole purpose of frustrating the law itself'. In other words, the court is not going to allow the parties to play ball games with the evidence in this trial.

More:
HERE and HERE and HERE

RSF issues Handbook for Bloggers


Reporters sans frontières has issued a new handbook designed to assist bloggers and 'cyber-dissidents'.

The handbook is aimed at those who are seeking to disseminate their news and views in parts of the world where censorship may be making mainstream reporting difficult, dangerous or impossible.

As RSF state on their website: "Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest. Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation."

22.9.05

US News: difficulty in regulating indecency on cable TV


US Federal Communications Commissioner, Jonathan Adelstein has cautioned that attempts by the FCC to regulate indecency on cable TV channels could run into difficulty when challenged in court.

Cable TV companies are facing mounting pressure to control their content and are hoping that technological measures such as channel blocking will suffice as a means of preventing children viewing indecent or other objectionable content.

Critics and campaign groups point out that not all households have or are able to afford the sort of equipment necessary to block content. Meanwhile Congress is considering new legislation that will allow for wider regulation of content on cable TV as well as higher fines for broadcasting indecent material.

More:
HERE

21.9.05

US authors throw copyright book at Google's global library bid


As Reuters reports, writers in the US are blocking Google's bid to create an online global library. The Authors Guild and several prominent US authors have launched a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York seeking damages and an injunction for copyright infringement. They claim that Google's copying of extracts from their (and other) works and posting these on the web infringes their rights as authors. Google has teamed up with leading libraries to compile its resource and says it has where possible sought permission from copyright owners. The service does not reproduce entire works but merely provides extracts from them in the manner pictured below.

The company says that the aim of its service is not to make money by infringing copyright, rather it seeks to create an online resource with examples of what is available. If anything, this would provide publicity for the authors.

In copyright terms and to establish infringement, there has to be substantial taking. Whether Google's service does amount to infringement of the actual works remains to be decided but the writers may have some mileage in their claim that they have been deprived of the right to control their work.


This is not the first time Google's attempts at organising the world's information and making it accessible to all have run into difficulty. When Google launched its news aggregating service Google News, several news and information providers complained about the linking and in some cases limited reproduction of their content without consent. The claims came and went but the service survived.

Is Google trying to take over the world or merely stick to the ethos of the web and make information freely available to all? It all comes down to what's 'free' in this context. If Google is making or plans to make large amounts of money by providing links to and extracts from other people's work then there may be an argument and copyright case for making them pay. If the company is being altruistic then copyright holders should show some latitude when it comes to their contribution to knowledge.

More:
Full report from Reuters
Google Print

20.9.05

Proposed TV regulation would inhibit growth and curtail content


A report out today by high-tech industry trade association Intellect in conjunction with the Broadband Stakeholder Group, is heavily critical of the EU's proposed revision of its TV Without Frontiers Directive (TVWF).

The groups see the proposals contained in this and its accompanying Audio Visual Content Directive as being premature, ill-conceived and an attempt to regulate the internet by the back door.

Rapid advances in technology have meant that the original TVWF Directive drawn up in 1989 is in need of a revamp but the EU's current proposals seem more like a set of blanket rules to gain control over the online environment rather than thought through regulations to help shape it and encourage growth.

Antony Walker, Director for the Knowledge Economy at Intellect said;"Our members are seriously concerned that the European Commission's proposals will inhibit growth of the content and new media market in Europe. New audio-visual content services, made possible through innovation in digital technology and the internet, should be given time to evolve and develop rather than being shackled by premature and unnecessary regulation intervention by the EU."

MORE:
Intellect Press Release HERE
Intellect Response to the TVWF proposals HERE
Broadband Stakeholder Group HERE
European Commission proposal HERE + Audiovisual and Media Policy site HERE

H&M ditches cocaine Kate


Following earliers reports that it would continue to use Kate Moss in its ad campaigns, H&M as today announced she is being ditched. Kate's contrition over her coke snorting was not enough to console company bosses who considered her association with drugs to be inconsistent with the image they wanted for their target market of teenage girls.

Amid reports that she has again split from Pete Doherty, the fallout from their relationship could end up damaging her professional as much as it has done her personal life.



More:
BBC
'Cocaine and the Catwalk' The Independent
H&M Press Release on new Stella McCartney range

19.9.05

Sex, drugs and privacy

Managing privacy by press release is proving as effective as protecting it through the courts.

Read MediaBeak's full analysis on MediaGuardian HERE

As "cocaine Kate" jets off to lie low on Ibiza and Reneé Zellweger provides us with an explanation of the term "fraud" we are seeing an interesting development in managing the relationship between celebrities and press when it comes to privacy.

While their professions may have brought them fame as they tread the world's catwalks or red carpets, the attendant media attention has made them into celebrities. It is the subtle distinction between fame and celebrity that turns the attention away from their livelihoods and puts the focus on their lives. They are no longer mere models or actresses but have become celebrities. When it comes to distinctions between their professional and private lives the press no longer have to apply for a pass to gain access to all areas.

With celebrities providing so much to kiss, smoke, snort and tell about, the media are revelling in this self-made market of celebrity sensation. While tabloids are suffering a slump in circulation, celebrity magazines are peddling their pictures and gossip to an expanding market. Defying the sceptics, Heat magazine has survived and recently been joined by Grazia to sit on the shelf of "lifestyle" titles.

The irony is that it is someone else's lifestyle they're selling and we're ultimately paying for. If they cut out the news sections and stuck to celebrity pictures and sport, the tabloids might strike a winning formula. Some might argue that the Daily Star is already experimenting along such lines with its front page offerings to "win a date" with Abi Titmuss.

When it comes to the likes of David Beckham the media can have it both ways with reports on the footballer's home games for Real Madrid resulting in less coverage than alleged away games in his private life.

In the wake of recent court battles such as Naomi Campbell's battle with the Mirror ("cocaine Kate" obviously made for a better headline than "cocaine Naomi" but "cocaine Campbell" might have caught on) or Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas's spat with Hello, there have been no real winners.

The uncertainty of the law on privacy resulted in these cases being shunted between courts where judges gave conflicting opinions as to the law and their rights under it.

The underlying legal principles of balancing the human rights of individuals to privacy against the freedom of the press to publish and expose matters in the public interest are being undermined by the money.

MORE:
FULL article from MediaGuardian HERE

Kate Moss wins libel damages over 'cocaine coma' story
This is not the first time Kate Moss has been accused of having a penchant for cocaine. Back in July she secured substantial libel damages from the Sunday Mirror over a story that claimed she'd collapsed in a cocaine-fuelled coma in 2001. The story proved unsubstantiated and the paper was forced to pay. Details HERE

Naomi Campbell v Mirror more HERE and HERE
Douglas v Hello more HERE and HERE

17.9.05

Coming up....Cocaine Kate and Zellweger's privacy plea

On MediaBeak this week:

Analysis of how 'Cocaine Kate' is dealing with her own baby shambles and clinging on to sponsorship contracts.....will going into rehab give her the privacy protection Naomi Campbell sought to preserve in her battle against the Mirror? - No. The Mirror is one step ahead this time and is making the story as well as exposing it.




Life imitates 'art' as Renee Zellweger's short-lived marriage ends up as a 'fraud'. As she appeals to the media to respect the privacy of her problem can she really expect that ending her marriage because of fraud while saying that should not provide grounds for thinking less of Kenny Chesney is going to keep the media at bay. No way. As the Daily Express (pictured left) and other media report, she's given statements and there's a story behind the scenes that's waiting to come out...

Full coverage from Monday....

16.9.05

Diaz snapper sent down


As MediaBeak reported in July, John Rutter, the photographer (pictured) accused of trying to blackmail Cameron Diaz over the sale of topless pictures was found guilty of thefty, forgery and perjury.

At a sentencing hearing yesterday, the Los Angeles Superior Court rejected Rutter's plea for probation and sent him to jail for 3 years and 8 months. He had faced a maximum of 6 years in jail for his attempts to peddle the pictures of a 19 year old Diaz.

The custodial sentence reflects punishment for his devious attempts at forging Diaz's signature and subsequent lies about it.

More HERE and HERE

15.9.05

CPJ criticises US military over journalist killings



CPJ The Committee to Protect Journalists has slammed the US military for failing to carry out proper investigations into the 13 journalists who have been killed by its forces in Iraq.

According to the CPJ report, a further 40 journalists have been killed while covering the conflict as well as 21 media support staff - two of whom were killed by US troops.

The most recent case highlighted what CPJ denounced as the US military' s indifference to the situation. An investigation into the killing of Reuters soundman, Waleed Khaled (pictured) on 28th August this year has not yet reported its findings but an interim statement by military officials is already smokescreening and states that soldiers had followed "established rules of engagement" and acted in an "appropriate" manner. How they will justify this killing as 'appropriate' remains to be seen.

CPJ full story HERE
CPJ Analysis of journalist killings HERE
For further discussion see MediaBeak's comment on MediaGuardian HERE

Google launches Blog Search tool



Search engine Google - which also supplies the wonderful blogger system that makes this site possible - has just launched its latest tool to help those searching the net.

The beta version of Blog Search allows you to search the rapidly expanding blogosphere to find out the latest news and information being posted on blogs around the world. So if you wanted to find out whether MediaBeak had covered the young farmers' campaign in Bavaria all you have to do is click HERE and enter some key words 'PR campaign Bavaria' and you'll get taken to the article. This is a new and extremely helpful tool - try using it to search for other MediaBeak stories - you may be surprised what you find!

14.9.05

Paper cleared over naming teenage murder suspect


As MediaBeak reported last April, the Edinburgh Evening News and Aberdeen Press and Journal faced prosecution after naming Luke Mitchell who was subsequently found guilty for the murder of Jodi Jones. Mitchell was 15 at the time.

Charges were brought under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act which prevents suspects under the age of 16 being named in relation to "proceedings in a court". As the papers argued (in MediaBeak's view correctly) at the time, this did not apply to the preceding period between arrest and charge. However, the crown office and procurator fiscal formed the view that section 47 of the Criminal Procedure Act should extend to the pre-trial part of proceedings.

At a hearing earlier this year, the Aberdeen Press and Journal was cleared of its charges after the judge ruled that the wording of the Act was 'unambiguous' - the proceedings in question were indeed proceedings IN court and did not extend to police investigations. The Crown appealed but the court upheld the view of the judge that while arrest and charge may be part of the chain of events that result in 'proceedings in a court' they were not themselves such proceedings.

The Evening News was still faced with similar charges and an appearance at Edinburgh's Sheriff Court but the prosecution this week finally saw sense and decided to drop proceedings.

As discussed by MediaBeak last year, had the report contained substantially prejudicial material then there may still have been cause for contempt charges but the article was factual and merely confirmed the name.

More HERE

Press Freedom under fire as German prosecutors raid magazine


As reported on Spiegel Online, journalists in Germany are voicing concerns over press freedom after public prosecutors raided the offices of political magazine Cicero .

The prosecutors from Potsdam swooped on the magazine's offices with warrants to investigate jouralist Bruno Schirra, Cicero editor Wolfram Weimer and 'an unknown' person. They wouldn't confirm what they are looking for beyond stating that the investigation related to betraying the state. Its thought the background to this came from an article by Schirra in April's edition of the publication where he chronicled the rise of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and made reference to intelligence reports from the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) - Germany's federal criminal police office - that were marked 'for operational use only'. The document contained over 125 pages that formed an assessment that al-Zarquawi was seen as 'a leader of an independent, autonomous terrorist network'.

Why its taken until now for the state to object to what appeared in April is not known and editor Wolfram Weimer is not keen to speculate given he remains unsure of the extent of the charges against him. Meanwhile Schirra received a call on his mobile phone informing him that prosecutors had just entered his Berlin flat through the bathroom window to search it.

The raid has been condemned by senior journalists across the country. Hans Werner Kilz, Editor in Chief of the Süddeutsche Zeitung is quoted as saying 'newsrooms aren't import-export booths for carpet-traders. Criminal investigators haven't lost anything there and should keep out'

A spokesman for German jouralists' union DJV, said that this latest raid pointed to a worrying trend that saw the state increasingly willing to interfere with press freedom and attempting to uncover journalists' sources. Last month the DJV issued a report criticising how a reporter's phone had been tapped.

As in the UK, it appears that the war on terror is seeing is leading to a more subtle form of war being waged on press freedom and journalists' sources. If the journalists can get the sources then surely the intelligence services of the state should be able to do the same. They need to refrain from raiding journalists' laundry baskets to dig up dirt and carry out some clean investigations of their own.

Spiegel report (German) HERE

Society of Environmental Journalists slams Feds for failure to comply with FOI

The Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) has said that the obstacles put in the way of the press seeking to report on the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, are but another example of failure on the part of the state to allow access to key information about environmental issues.

In its report: "A Flawed Tool — Environmental Reporters' Experiences With the Freedom of Information Act" Society claims that Federal government is failing to comply with its duty under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and allow access to information and associated data which the public have a right to know about.

More from SEJ HERE
US Dept. Of Justice - FOIA HERE
UK Freedom of Information Act info HERE
UK FOI Act BLOG HERE (MediaBeak recommends for all things to do with UK FOI)

PR campaign shows sexy side to farming in Bavaria


Young farmers in Bavaria have just released a sassy new calendar as part of a PR campaign to boost the image of farming in the Bavarian state of southern Germany.

The campaign follows a the success of a similar campaign by the Austrian farming fraternity (or sisterhood to be precise) that launched in 2001. Amid the scandal and sensation it caused, it rapidly sold out its run of 2000 copies and went on to see sales of 5000 copies for the girls' and 3000 copies for the boy's calendar in the following years.
The Bavarian campaign hopes to achieve similar success following the launch of its calendar 'Bayern Girls - Edition 2006' at a sausage breakfast in Munich's famous Hofbrauhaus beer hall on Wednesday. Beyond the sensation these raunchy posed shots have caused lies a more serious message about the state of farming and the challenges faced by new generations of young farmers.

The Bayern Girls are not the first to undo their buttons to promote their campaign, it was the startling sight of the Women's Institute calendar back in 2000 that started the spectre of these campaign sensations and went on to feature as the basis for the movie Calendar Girls in 2003.

More of the calendar HERE
You can order the calendar HERE

13.9.05

Italian court approves extradition of London bomb suspect


Hamdi Isaac (or Hussain Osman) has failed in his bid to prevent being extradited back to Britain. As previously reported on Mediabeak, he is wanted in connection with the July 21 London bombings and was arrested in Italy after having slipped out of the UK on Eurostar.

Having been appointed a glamorous defence attorney in the form of
Antonietta Sonnessa, he courted media attention by fighting his extradition on the grounds that (among other things) media coverage of him could prejudice his right to a fair trial in the UK. As Mediabeak argued (see MediaGuardian), it seems wrong that the media should be prevented from printing picutres of him while he was, albeit through his attorney, giving press
briefings to the assembled world media in Italy.

Not persuaded by his argument, Italy's top court, the Court of Cassation, has ruled that he shoud be extradited back to Britain. Among other things, this case also put the veracity of the European Arrest Warrant to the test - it works and he has to be brought back to Britain within 10 days.

More:
Reuters
BBC

12.9.05

Media won't be banned from covering carnage of Katrina

Following reports that FEMA - the Federal Emergency Management Agency - was trying to ban the media from showing pictures of dead bodies in the wake of the hurricane Katrina disaster, the agency has stated that it will not try to prevent further press coverage this week.

CNN mounted a legal challenge to the US authorities attempts at censorship and secured a successful outcome at a court hearing on Saturday.

More from CNN HERE
Transcript of CNN lawsuit against FEMA and Michael Brown HERE

New look Guardian launches


The all new Berliner format Guardian launched today. Its not as big as a broadsheet yet not as small as a tabloid. After 18 months and at a cost of 80 million, editor Alan Rusbridger says research has shown this to be the format that's perfectly formed.

More from Media Guardian HERE
Alan Rusbridger - The shape of things to come

1.9.05

Wild Wars - Reformed porn star sues TV channel


German media are adding their colourful coverage to the colourful plight of 34 year old reformed porn star. Michaela Schaffrath, as she is now known, thought that her transition to respectable actress would allow her to leave her thriving porn career behind.

Not so. Her former persona of 'Gina Wild' very much lives on and German erotic TV channel Beate Uhse is running a season of her classic films whose titles, such as 'Maximum Perversion' leave little to the imagination. To advertise the films, the company is running a campaign that uses sexy shots of Gina Wild as she then was.

An enraged Michaela got straight on the phone to her lawyer and is seeking to sue Beate Uhse for using the shots in their campaign thereby creating the impression that the reformed actress Michaela still gets dirty as Gina.

Lawsuit aside it is proving difficult for Michaela to bury her past with illegal downloads of her porn proving vastly more popular than her 2001 autobiography. Not having been one to shun publicity, she also produced her own lingerie and fragrance ranges.

In relation to her lawsuit she could find that Beate Uhse TV boss, Andreas Fischer is right to be relaxed. If she signed away her rights to her porn films and associated publicity shots then she'll have difficulty in preventing their use. Similarly, using earlier photos of her in the context of publicising her films may be less illegal than it is contentious.

An additional problem is the publicity she has now courted with her legal action provides a platform for the media to dig out all those pictures she'd rather were forgotten. (see the links to German media below). With all these pictures enjoying a revival in the public domain, the selection of shots used by Beate Uhse may seem tame and not deserving of legal sanction.

Mediabeak also notes that she's offering that type of picture as mobile phone download on her website HERE so her lawyer has got their work cut out!

Michaela may have to resort to human rights legislation and the German constitution and frame her claim in the context of the right to self-development and personality.

The case does pose an interesting question - what can former porn stars or people with a past they'd prefer to forget do to protect themselves from that past. Where they have been as high profile as 'Gina Wild' then it may be difficult to put the past behind them and equally difficult to persuade a court that the media must shut its book on a persona-based commodity who was paid to bare all.

More:
Full uncut story with links from Bild.de HERE
Focus online with useful links and pictures HERE
Stern.de HERE
Her official website HERE and her cosmetics studio HERE
Beate Uhse corporate news HERE and HERE

Cinderella banned from brothel


The Latvian National Opera LNO has been banned from performing its modern verion of Sergei Prokofiev's ballet Cinderella after complaints from the composer's family.
Having failed to obtain permission from the family or the Prokofiev Archive, the LNO decided it would be fun to set the children's fairytale in a brothel and have Cinderella working as maid to her call-girl step-sisters while the wicked step-mother takes on the role of brothel madam.

The bright burlesque stage show failed to win over the disgruntled Prokofievs who secured a ban after just two performances. (just enough to provide this video clip!)

Permission to use or adapt copyright works needs to be obtained from the copyright owner - or as in this case, their estate. There is scope for some 'interpretation' of an original work but in this case they stuck to the musical score but added a new storyline. So as copyright owners, the family were able to complain that separating the music from its orignal storyline and using it without permission was an infringement that deserved to be banned. They could also suggest that it was a 'derogatory treatment' of the original work.

The ban seems harsh as it effectively allows the use of copyright to trump free artistic expression.

More:
Guardian
BBC
Mosnews.com
Playbill Arts
View a clip of the stage performance HERE
Music - Prokofiev Cinderella Suites 1-3

31.8.05

Truth as defence to contempt

After years of debate India seems set to allow 'truth' as a defence to contempt of court cases onto the statute book.

A Parliamentary Committee reviewing the proposed government Bill has this week signaled its approval for the new measure which would allow someone charged with contempt for having made an imputation against a court or judge to plead 'truth' as a defence. In other words, where someone is highly critical or even damning of a court or judge, if they can provide evidence that their comments and criticism are true, then this should stand as a defence even if it does undermine the court or a case.

Pressure for such an amendment came to bear on Parliament following the Supreme Court decision in Pritam Lal (Pritam Lal v. High Court of M.P. 1992 Cr.L.J. 1269= AIR 1992 SC 904) where an advocate had been charged with interfering with the administration of justice after making defamatory allegations about the judges before whom he was appearing.

In placing such a provision on the statute book Parliament would be allowing for greater open scrutiny of those administering justice, provided always that the basis for such scrutiny could be proven to be true. It will still be a judge who decides whether to prosecute alleged contempts or rule on the admissibility of the defence in a particular case so there is room for debate as to whether an imputation that is partially as opposed to substantially true would qualify for the defence under the new legislation when passed.

Whether legal reformists in the UK would entertain such a development in relation to contempt in the face of court or scandalising the court under UK contempt laws, poses an interesting question. Truth operates as a defence under defamation law and there is also the defence of privilege in relation to court proceedings, so where someone libeled a judge in open court then provided such libel could be shown to be true and didn't seriously prejudice the proceedings, then it may not amount to deliberate contempt or the older offence of a scandalous attack on the judiciary. In any event there is always the public interest defence under UK contempt laws and as exposing the truth can be seen to be in the public interest, the need for a specific defence in our contempt laws seems remote.

More on story from express india HERE
More discussion on India's contempt law HERE and HERE
Comprehensive comment from indiatogether.org HERE
Indian 1971 Contempt of Courts Act HERE

30.8.05

Big Brother evictee Makosi may get booted out of Britain

After being booted out of the Big Brother house, former contestant Makosi Musambasi may be booted out of Britain after her working visa was curtailed.

The 24 year old (who according to the Big Brother website believes she was an elephant in a former life) had been granted a visa to work as a cardiac nurse in High Wycombe but the terms of that visa didn't allow for her quitting her job to go and hang out in the Big Brother house.

The visa issue came to light after police pulled over the car her sister was driving as Makosi was not wearing a seatbelt. Having breached the terms of her visa, she must either leave the country or lodge an appeal.

If she wishes to stay she'll have to hope that her legal appeal carries more substance than the appeal she held for several Big Brother viewers.

More:
BBC
Sky
Big Brother website HERE

Adidas sticks the boot in China


German based sportswear company Adidas has launched legal proceedings against three Chinese companies for copying its distinctinve logo.

The case was commenced before the Beijing No1 People's Intermediate Court on Monday and cites clothing manufacturer Aile and two others as defendants.

Aile is accused of infringement for manufacturing the goods carrying a three-striped design similar to the Adidas brand, while a sports goods company and a shop are accused of distributing and selling the offending articles.

The manufacture of copycat or counterfeit goods is an infringement of trademark and associated intellectual property rights, while 'dealing' in or selling such goods is also an offence (and would count as secondary infringement under UK law).

Reports suggest that Adidas is seeking the equivalent of USD370,ooo in compensation from the defendants.

Adidas is no stranger to litigation over its trademark, having launched a similar action against US company Abercrombie & Fitch earlier this year and against Polo Ralph Lauren last year over stripes that appeared on a jacket.

Whether Adidas' 'Super Star' stripes can be protected in every form came under challenge in yet another case where Adidas-Salomon sued Target Corp. and there has been much debate over the distinction between product design, trade dress and logo.

EU approves RTL takeover of FIVE

Following the announcement on 20th July that RTL was to acquire the remaining 35.4 per cent shareholding in UK broadcaster FIVE, the European Commission has today given approval for the deal under which RTL gains complete control of the broadcaster.

RTL has always held a stake in FIVE, taking an initial holding of 29 per cent back in 1997. Following the merger of Pearson and CLT-UFA in 2000, RTL upped its overall stake to 64.6 per cent.

RTL said that FIVE plays a key role for the group and the deal underlines RTL's commitment to the sector in the UK.

European Commission announcement HERE
Press Releases re acquisition HERE and HERE

25.8.05

Sun pays out 'substantial' damages for saying 'Spencer' was sacked


Having been warned about privacy intrusion last year, The Sun has been forced to pay 'substantial' damages to actor Chris Parker. Known for his role as Alfie's sidekick, Spencer Moon in EastEnders, Parker left the soap in January after a barrage of press coverage surrounding his personal life.

The press latched on to Parker after the actor attempted suicide last November and when it was confirmed that he had 'agreed' to leave EastEnders, The Sun
pic: BBC/onelife web took the story further by claiming he'd been sacked.

The Sun went on to allege that he was kicked out for refusing to see the soap's appointed psychologist. After the paper refused to apologise for publishing the false claims Parker issued proceedings through his lawyers at The Simkins Partnership who today secured what they descirbed as a 'substantial' pay-out over the story. The Sun has also printed an apology.

The case goes to show that its unwise to make false allegations or speculation, especially when these relate to personal matters such as health. Not only could this be seen as invasive of privacy but where unsubstantiated (as it was in this case), defamatory.

It was made clear in the House of Lords judgment in Naomi Campbell's case against the Mirror that the courts will take a dim view of intrusion into and/or reports of a person's medical condition. The Sun scraped the barrel with their initial coverage of Frank Bruno's psychological troubles but quickly dug themseves out of that potentially large lawsuit.

There's one thing exposing a soap star or celebrity for having been on a drink or drug-fuelled bender - or, if true, an affair (if untrue, then you get sued ...as the Sun was reminded of recently when forced to write out a big cheque to Cameron Diaz) but another to trade off troubles of a personal or psychological nature.

More:
MediaGuardian
BBC announces Parker's departure

24.8.05

Libel damages for Timberlake after model lied to News of the World over affair

An expensive pack of lies. Model Lucy Clarkson and News of the World have been forced to pay libel damages to Justin Timberlake after she admitted that he claims of an affiar with Timberlake were 'entirely untrue'. The claims caused Justin and girlfriend Cameron Diaz distress and embarrassment after the News of the World splashed Clarkson's claims under the headline "Bad news for Cameron as model reveals lover's secret fling"

Quite what Clarkson (who became known as a body double for Lara Croft in Tomb Raider) was thinking is anyone's guess but she'd obviously never heard of libel. She's agreed to pay out the money she received from the paper as damages, while News of the World will have to foot its own damages and legal bill over the story.

This case highlights the risks the press face when their sorces tell them lies. The lengths to which editors can or do check stories and sources varies but when it comes to libel, a check too few can result in a damages cheque too many.

Both Timberlake and Diaz have been the focus of much media attention lately and a string of false reports alleging they had been cheating on each other. Privacy issues aside, when people tell porky pies to the press then its fair play to celebrities who litigate over such libels. The problem is that the lies tend to get more exposure than the subsequent legal action correcting them.

Timberlake was represented by Simon Smith from Schillings who also acted for Diaz in her recent successful action against The Sun over claims she'd snogged a married man.

More:
BBC HERE
Diaz wins libel award HERE
Diaz wins case against photographer John Rutter HERE and HERE
The false allegations still appear in a news report on FemaleFirst.co.uk HERE
More Lucy Clarkson HERE

Condom carrying nuns seen as offensive

The Taiwanese authorities have withdrawn ads showing a smiling nun holding a condom. The posters had been displayed in various public places as part of an anti-Aids campaign.

As Reuters reports, the happy nun holds onto a condom with both hands with the caption "although I don't need one, even I know'

Local Catholics were outraged at the ad and not impressed that campaign organisers had decided that in wanting to use someone with a 'positive' image, they had opted for a nun.

Defamation - Bud Brewer in big bucks settlement



Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch is reported to have reached a settlement in its long running legal battle with the family of baseball legend Roger Maris

The case dates back to a court action which the Maris family (trading as Maris Distributing) won against Anheuser-Busch back in 2001. That original action related to the termination of a beer distribution deal in 1997 and saw the jury award damages of 50 million dollars against the brewer.

That award became tied up in the associated defamation claim under which it was alleged that the brewer had defamed Maris by alleging sub-standard distribution and selling beer beyond its sell-by date. Allowing for interest on the judgment debt, the figure claimed by the Maris family had been placed at a staggering 5 billion dollars (enought to dwarf any UK defamation action and send shockwaves in the direction of those involved in claims for trade libel)

Having originally granted distributorship to Maris at the end of his baseball career, Anheuser-Busch was accused of conspiring to retain its preferred distributors while forcing others out of the market. The protracted legal dispute saw no love lost between the parties who both seemed relieved that a settlement had been reached. No details were given as to the figure but taking into account legal costs and the interest on the 2001 judgment debt, a billion dollars (give or take) may not be out of the question. (The brewer's accounts show an allowance of nearly 40 million dollars for the judgment debt alone).

The settlement came as the jury continued with its second day of deliberations on the back of a three week trial and has been seen in some quarters as a damage limitation exercise.

Whatever the undisclosed settlement figure, this goes to show that when it comes to dirt dishing in the competitive world of business, the legal consequences can create a true hangover.

Details from Forbes.com HERE
More:
St. Louis Business Journal HERE
USA Today HERE

23.8.05

'LOST' - the plot and the legal action


The plot for hit series 'Lost' has apparently been 'misappropriated' from a story commissioned back in 1977.


According to Hollywood Reporter and Reuters, writer/producer Anthony Spinner whose list of programme credits include the legendary 'Man from Uncle' has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles claiming damages for infringement, fraud and breach of contract.

He claims that he was contracted by veteran childrens tv producers Sid and Marty Krofft
to come up with a script for a bunch of air crash survivors who end up in a jungle with stange beasts....sound familiar? better still, it was to be produced by ABC under the title 'Lost'

Spinner says he has the contract to prove it along with details of royalty payments he would have been due: "Plaintiff has a right to payment and a right to royalties from ABC and Touchstone as a result of their profit" is what's in the deposition. His action is lodged against ABC and Touchstone Television.

So unless Spinner is spinning a line, it would appear ABC's legal team (from whom there has been no comment so far) will need to dust down some of their old contracts to resolve this. With the second series due to air in the US, a quick settlement might be the way to go.

Legal trivia:
Sid and Marty Krofft sued McDonalds over similarities between Mayor McCheese and Pufnstuf back in the 1970s - you know you want to read more HERE

ABC, along with Simon Cowell, is already being sued for having ripped off another show 'Million Dollar Idea' - details HERE

More links:
Hollywood Reporter HERE
Zap2it.com HERE
Lost.tv - unofficial UK fansite HERE

22.8.05

Blair in Barbados


What excitement. The news blackout imposed on the PM's top secret holiday destination had been lifted. He's been outed in Barbados after attending a war memorial service on Sunday.

His head of press had asked the media to keep his wherabouts secret 'for security reasons' but given he's attended a public event the secret's out.

If you really wanted to know where he was, it took Mediabeak just 10 seconds to search the 10 Downing Street website and find a 'PMOS' PM's Morning Briefing from the 26th of July that said he was in Barbados 'having arrived there last night'. Too easy to believe - click HERE

More from:
BBC
MediaGuardian
For a fun read from the New York Times - Forget Waldo. Where's Tony Blair?

21.8.05

Testimony of the talk show host hoping it will be judgment day for the mob


Its the stuff films are made of. Radio DJ and founder of the Guardian Angels takes on the notorious mafiosesque Gambino family. Still hurting from the bullets he took in a 1992 attack, Curtis Sliwa hopes his testimony will help see justice being done in the current trial of "Junior" Gotti on racketeering charges.

Allegedly the target of a mob hit following uncomplimentary comments on his radio show, Sliwa is keen to get even with the mob who he claims were responsible for his shooting.

So some 13 years on the 'Angel' will come face to face with his demon. Whether it will be the last time he makes disparaging remarks about families with supposedly ciminal connections remains to be seen. As he found out last time round, exercising his freedom of expression doesn't make him immune to the actions of those who don't like what he has to say.

More from CNN HERE
Latest from MSNBC HERE
Gangland News - Dapper Don Ordered Sliwa Shooting HERE
John Gotti HERE

20.8.05

MTV and VIVA to ban ringtone ads

Ringtones and those who constantly play them on their phones are annoying at the best of times, so its no wonder that tv bosses in Germany have decided that running ringtone ads in prime-time is putting off viewers.

As reported on German media site DWDL.de, MTV will cut ringtone ads from its peak (4pm-midnight) viewing time from October and VIVA will follow suit next March.

The move is part of a drive to move away from cheap trash tv and nasty noisy ads which the channels hope will bring back viewers and attract other advertisers.

Crazy Frog, your days are numbered!


DWDL report HERE
Spiegel Online HERE

19.8.05

Beijing censors online sensation


Chinese authorities have censored websites and blogs after an online self-publicity campaign turned a 28 year old woman into an internet icon. As reported by Reuters 'Sister Furong', (whose real name is Shi Hengxia), made her online debut by posting provocative pictures of herself on the bulletin boards of two Beijing universities that had refused her a place.

Her busty pictures and accompanying text were designed to draw attention to her talent but soon attracted the attention of thousands of internet users across the country. Her campaign became the sbubject of much debate as it went beyond what traditional media control in China would allow.

It wasn't long before the state censors stepped in and forced websites and blogs to remove or bury content or links related to her. Second to the US, China has the largest number of online users and has set up a special internet police force to patrol the net.

So for those wishing to pull off successful self-publicity stunts, the long arm of the law extends into cyberspace.

This level of censorship goes againts the grain and ethos of what the net was originally about and it will be interesting to see if censors try to block content on sites hosted outside China.

Full story from Reuters HERE
The Register HERE
Wired News HERE
The Epoch Times HERE
Taiwan News HERE

18.8.05

Large libel award for former Malaysian Deputy PM


Anwar Ibrahim former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia has been awarded 1.2 million dollars in damages over a book he claims contributed to his being dismissed from office.

Entitled '50 Reasons Why Anwar Ibrahim Cannot Become Prime Minister', the book (published in 1998) contained a series of allegations centered around allegations of sexual misconduct.

Having been ousted from office he subsequently stood trial for corruption and sodomy and was jailed for a total of 15 years. He was released last year after a successful appeal against the sodomy charge and earlier this year secured damages and an apology from a former police chief who had assaulted him in custody.

Judgment was awarded in Anwar's favour in January after the defence lawyer didn't show in court. Today's award is one of the largest for libel in Malaysia but is unlikely to be paid out as the 65 year old defendant Khalid Jafri is critically ill in hospital.

While his criminal convictions prevent Anwar from holding political office until 2008, his supporters are not ruling out a political comeback now that he has been vindicated over what were held to be politically motivated and unfounded allegations.

More from BBC HERE
Reuters HERE
CNN HERE
Profile HERE and HERE
AnwarIbrahim.com
Banned Book (translated) HERE
Comment on this case and allegations of police abuse

17.8.05

Latest PCC adjudications


The PPC has rejected a complaint against the Sunday Telegraph that one of its reporters had engaged in subterfuge (in breach of clause 10 of the PCC code) after it was revealed that a Saudi-owned printing firm printed a BNP publication.

The complaint which also claimed that clauses 1 (accuracy) and 2 (right to reply) of the PCC code had been breached, was not upheld.

Details HERE

The PCC also rejected a complaint against the Derby Evening Telegraph that the publication of an address and inclusion of a photograph had been of privacy.

Details HERE

PCC Code HERE

"haggard hooker" sues Sun over Rooney sex romp claim


Grandmother Patricia Tierney is suing the Sun over a story it ran last year claiming she was a 'haggard hooker' who had performed personal services for footballer Wayne Rooney in a Liverpool massage parlour.

The 50 year old who has 7 children and 16 grandchildren was alleged by the Sun to have been known professionally as 'the auld slapper'. Mrs Tierney has confirmed she did work at the massage parlour in question for three weeks in August 2003 but was employed as a receptionist and not engaged in any of the personal services alleged or alluded to.

While the Sun is standing by its story, Mrs Tierney has instructed Kirwans Solicitors to sue the paper for defamation.

Rooney last year admitted having visited massage parlours after various papers accused him of sleeping with prostitutes.

Whether he'll be called as a witness depends on whether the case goes to trial - perhaps that's what the Sun is hoping for as the copy would be well worth the cost!

More HERE and HERE
and from fanzine Redissue ‘Did he shag a granny?’

August 2004
Rooney admits prostitute visits

NEWS BITE >> Press Freedom under threat in Uganda

A proposal for the Ugandan Attorney General to review the country's media laws has been seen as a further affront on democracy and press freedom.
Report from The Monitor HERE

11.8.05

Celebrity Peep Show

German tabloid Bild reports that Beyonce is the latest celebrity to fall victim to having a sneaky sex flick made of them. Rumours were circulating on various US internet sites about a 2 minute tape that was apparently recorded by hidden cameras rigged up in a hotel room she and boyfriend Jay Z had spent a night in a year or so ago. Copies of a news release purporting to be from "New York (AP)" have appeared on various websites and suggest that a lawsuit was filed this week. However a quote attributed to his publicist Jana Fleishman that cites his concern over how his private parts may be percieved in the 2 minute flick do seem to cast a question over the credibility of these latest claims.

Whether these claims turn out to be true remains to be seen but certainly does no harm to the underground market for peddling celebrity sex pics. Cameron Diaz recently won her case against a photographer who'd tried to extort money from her for illicit pics (Mediabeak report HERE )

Perhaps the best known flick to date was the eponymous 'A night in Paris' starring Paris Hilton.

Other celebrities caught on cam include:
Pamela Anderson; Colin Farrell; Jordan; Fred Durst; Gena Lee Nolin; Tonya Harding and of course Abi Titmus

Not all have resulted in major court cases and although celebrities are successfully suing those who invade their privacy, the ease of the internet makes peddling and policing such unsolicited amateur porn a tricky issue.

If you have any information about the truth of these latest rumours be sure to mail mediabeak.
More on these rumours HERE and HERE