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Panpa Bulletin : September 2010
MAGAZINES THIS GOOD ARE HARD TO PUT DOWN. With every issue sold, vendors receive half of the cover price. So you're helping people help themselves. Latest issue is on sale now. A PRO BONO CLIENT AND SIGNATURE PARTNER OF THE FREEHILLS COMMUNITY PROGRAM. DEFAMATION laws in the digital realm are lagging dangerously be- hind the rest of the world and must be revamped urgently, a top defama- tion lawyer has demanded. Exposure to liability is increasing as newspapers and websites produce greater volumes of user-generated content and build new communities on social media, on phones, tablet computers and websites. Protection in Australian law was "woefully inadequate", according to Peter Leonard, managing partner of corporate communications and tech- nology at specialist legal firm Gilbert & Tobin, and director of the Internet Industry Association. "It is a real concern. Our law is clearly inadequate," he said. In New Zealand, the situation is somewhat better, with a specific provision covering the "innocent dis- semination" of defamatory material by online content hosts. However, according to Rick Shera, a partner at Lowndes Jordan in Auck- land, this provision is not as wide- ranging as in other countries, such as the US, but more in favour of content hosts than the law in Australia. "There is a good balance in New Zealand, but this is definitely an area that needs to be sorted out in coun- tries where it has not been," he said. "It's obviously an area of litigation that is going to increase as social net- working and user-generated content increases." The call for stronger protections for online operators comes as the US president, Barack Obama, signed into law a bill to protect journalists and publishers from libel suits in other countries. US Senator Patrick Leahy cited Australia among other countries where "weak libel protections have attracted libel lawsuits against Ameri- can journalists and authors". A review in Australia is possible in the next few months, but Mr Leonard is concerned it might be side-tracked and avoid fundamental legal issues such as defamation and privacy. A spokesperson for the Depart- ment of Broadband, Communica- tions and the Digital Economy confirmed that if re-elected, the cur- rent government would "commence a comprehensive review of commu- nications regulation". Mr Leonard warned: "There's a danger the review will get sidetracked on issues around the NBN (the A$43 million new broadband network) and mobile services, rather than address- ing liability exposure of online con- tent providers and hosts, including privacy, defamation, contempt, and obscenity." He said publishers had significant exposure as a result of the multiple publication rule. "They are liable multiple times if defamatory content found on their site is republished in any online space, creating the potential for open-ended liabilities," he said. POISON PENS Call to revamp defamation law Above: Newsagent Graeme Sawyer compares the aerodynamics of the flat-wrap to the traditional wrap Publication of the Newspaper Publishers' Association Newspaper Publishers' Association A$995 NZ $12 September 2010 Nick Evershed NPA CONTINUED PAGE 3 RRILLA CASTING Hyper-action on hyper-local news PAGE 15 SELLING THE STORY PAGES 12 & 13 What our readers love to buy COVERING CONFLICT Photography in the danger zone PAGE 16 WRAP 'N ROLL Flat-wrapped newspapers have been trialled across the region, find out the results on PAGE 17 PACIFIC GOVERNMENTS GREENLIGHT NEWSPAPER DEAL PAGE 3 GOLD COAST BULLETIN GOES CARBON NEUTRAL PAGE 6 TONY WILKINS PRESENTS 1 DEGREE CASE STUDY PAGE 19 • • •