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Web hosts’ defamation liability restricted

Friday, September 19th, 2014

In a significant Court of Appeal decision (see Murray v Wishart), hot off the press, the judges have unanimously ruled that a third party publisher (the owner of a Facebook page that contained comments by others) was not liable for other people’s comments simply because he “ought to have known” that they contain defamatory material […]

Press Council to tackle bloggers

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

This is my column for the first edition of the NewLaw magazine. The Press Council wants to spread its wings. It has decided to fly farther afield, casting its eagle eye over new terrains on the internet, including bloggers. Will the online community welcome the attentions of this defender of speech and guardian of journalistic […]

Post at your own risk!

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

An interesting warning from the Northern Ireland High Court: Before I go on … I should say that anyone who uses Facebook does so at his or her peril. There is no guarantee that any comments posted to be viewed by friends will only be seen by those friends. Furthermore it is difficult to see […]

Harmful Digital Communications Bill submission

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Introduction I am a barrister specialising in media law and a lecturer in media and privacy law at Victoria University of Wellington’s law school. I am also a blogger and occasional journalist. I am the author of a textbook for journalists called “Media Minefield”. I have dealt with, studied, and commented on many cases involving […]

No one-stop media regulator

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

The good news, for the Law Commission: the government thinks the Commission’s report on media regulation –  recommending the establishment of a one-stop media complaints body serving print, broadcast and online platforms – is “excellent”. The bad news: the government has rejected that recommendation. I summarised the Commission’s proposal in an earlier post. In short, […]

Digital harrassment remedies coming

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Justice Minister Judith Collins has (by and large) accepted the Law Commission’s recommendations to better protect victims of cyber-harrassment. (I have explained and defended and critiqued and defended again the Law Commission’s proposals elsewhere). Note that this is not the same as the Law Commission’s recently confirmed plan to set up a one-stop regulator for the […]

A media website complaints system arrives

Friday, February 15th, 2013

OMSA – the Online Media Standards Authority – is being launched soon. It already has a website, and a code of standards. Looks like it will be operative on, hmmm, April 1. This is a self-regulation effort by all our major broadcasters, who are looking to fill a gaping chasm in the media regulatory landscape: the […]

Defending the Law Commission again

Friday, September 7th, 2012

The NZ Herald’s Chris Barton takes a swipe at the Law Commission’s proposals to create a communications tribunal and a new criminal offence of using a communications device to send grossly offensive material designed to harm someone. I think the way he makes his criticisms is a bit unfair. He says the Commission’s new offence […]

Defending the Law Commission

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

The Law Commission’s brainchild is being bullied online. It has recommended the creation of a tribunal to hear claims of digital harrassment, privacy invasion, intimidation, bullying and defamation. Not surprisingly, perhaps, it’s now being attacked by netizens as a terrible threat to free speech. Also not surprisingly, many of these people do not seem to […]

Some sense at last

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Paul Chambers, the guy who was convicted of sending a menacing communication for a tweet about blowing up an airport after it was closed due to bad weather, has won his appeal. In fact it took two appeals before he got some judges who realised what everyone else knew from the get-go: this was joke. The […]

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