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Case exposes vulnerable underbelly of contempt laws

By Steven | February 15, 2008

An Australian judge has banned the broadcast of a TV series about the mafia in Victoria (it can be broadcast elsewhere in Australia) because it may prejudice upcoming mafia trials.

Of course, people have recorded it and put it online, and now anyone in Victoria who wants to is downloading and watching it. Some media may be pushing things by referring to the sites where the programme can be downloaded.

A problem, yes. But there’s still a big difference in the prejudicial effect between, let’s say, hundreds of downloads and hundreds of thousands of viewers. So let’s not get carried away about the uselessness of such court suppressions just yet.

As for the suppression order itself, I’ll be looking out for copy of the decision. Here’s a reported quote from the judge:

Justice King, who also viewed the series yesterday, today said the conversations in the drama would largely be “a figment of someone’s imagination”. “It will be difficult for the viewing public to sift through what is factual material and what is fictional,” she said. “The series explains to a large degree why the person was murdered. “That is really what is the subject for the trial.”

Topics: Contempt of Court, Injunctions, Internet issues, Suppression orders | 41 Comments »

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