Media Law

Aspects of Media Law

Defamation, Privacy & Social Media

We had Law lecturer John Hawker visit us in this lecture to explain different aspects of media law, including defamation, privacy & social media. Below are notes I made in the lecture from his powerpoint. (All words John Hawkers not mine).

Laws in Freedom of Speech: -In a free pluralist democracy freedom of expression is paramount to freedom as a whole

-Freedom of expression is guaranteed by



-Law (Art 10 ECHR & Human Rights Act 1998)

Art 10 (1) – very broad definition of freedom of speech

Art 10(2) – limitations on freedom of speech that are necessary in a democratic society



Defamation – Libel and Slander

– Both are defamation. The only real difference is that libel is something which is permanent and can be seen whereas slander is not recorded permanently and is transient.


Broadcast Images

– The defamatory effect of broadcast images is determined as libel by the effect of section 4 of The Theatres Act 1968

-Where defamatory material is broadcast by radio or television it is libel by section 166 of The Broadcasting Act 1990



Multigroup Bulgaria Holdings v Oxford Analytica Ltd. (1997)

-Classed as permanent even though transient

-Therefore libel and not slander

-(deleted email can be recovered and read by others)


Nature of the Tort

– Statement made about the claimant that reflects negatively upon the reputation they enjoy.

– It must be of a nature that ‘lowers the claimant in the estimation of right thinking members of society’ or ‘which would tend to cause people to shun or avoid’ the claimant or would expose the claimant to ‘hatred ridicule or contempt’

-Along with demonstrating that the detrimental statement has been made the claimant must show that the statement has been published.

-Broadcast or published simply means disseminated

-S.1 Defamation Act 2013 – “serious harm” to reputation


Defamatory Meaning

– Words may be in their natural meaning defamatory

– Thief, Criminal, Adulterer, Racist, Paedophile  are all capable of lowering a person in the minds of right thinking people.

-Claimant relies on the natural meaning of the words


Social Media Risks


-How secure are the settings on social media? Is information about you already in the public domain and thus not protectable? Are you infringing the privacy rights of others by virtue of what you post?

-Offensive/ Malicious/ Menacing communications

-Are all criminal offences under The Malicious Communications Act 1988 & The Communications Act 2003

– General problem is that social media means that we are all now ‘publishers’ and should think carefully about what we say – Facebook, Twitter etc. all pose significant legal risks depending on how they are being used

-Confidential Information/ Data Protection

-Does what you are posting include confidential information or personal information about others that breaches the Data Protection Act 1998?


-Are you reproducing a substantial part of copyright protected work? (words/ photos)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s