Telco giants do the techno-legal time warp, again

February 3, 2012

Telecommunications giant Optus managed to convince the Federal Court in Sydney this week that there’s a legal blindspot in relation to its download pay-per-view service.

Telstra – given its business relationship with The National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (NFL) – had tried to prevent Optus from recording and re-broadcasting matches screened on free-to-air television.

But Justice Steven Rares found Optus’s mobile television service didn’t breach the Copyright Act for a couple of reasons: Optus keeps separate recordings for each customer, and individual customers are responsible for requesting the recordings.

So what’s going on here?

To my mind, former rugby league coach Roy Masters – ever the shrewd observer – hit the nail on the head when he wrote the following for the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday:

“They framed the copyright laws to protect the average punter from being sued for taping a TV show, including a football match on his home recorder. Now, their legislation is being used by Optus to sell a service.”

Naturally, Telstra has concerns. The AFL’s A$1.25 billion five-year rights deal signed last season with Channel Seven, Foxtel and Telstra, included a A$153m payment by Telstra for the online broadcast rights to games. The NRL, likewise, expected a proportion of its next deal to come from internet rights.

[first published on The Conversation, 3 Feb, 2012]

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All a twitter over #superinjunction tweets. Advice to celebs “STFU”

May 21, 2011

So, the gloss is wearing off social media; the excitement is waning and the holy-roller experts are starting to sound like hollowed-out snakeoil sellers after a beating in the Dry Gulch town square.

We have been taken for a ride once too often. The world of celebrity tweets as a viral marketing tool may (hopefully) be over now that the super injunction scandal is hitting harder at so many British Nobs and Toffs.

But this stupid, Luddite old judge in the UK has got his judicial robes in a twist over the very obvious techno-legal time gap that has the Twitterverse all a-gush over trying to guess who’s got a super injunction in place preventing publication of details about their personal lives.

Attempts to identify a famous footballer hiding behind a privacy injunction have spiralled into an online battle over freedom of speech, as internet users responded to high court action by repeatedly naming him on Twitter.

The high court granted a search order against the US-based microblogging site on Friday as the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, warned that “modern technology was totally out of control” and called for those who “peddle lies” on the internet to be fined. (Guardian.co.uk)

It highlights once again the ever-widening void between rich and poor that super injunctions (whose very presence was itself suppressed until a few weeks ago) are available to those who can pay a high-priced whore-of-QC to front the Lords of the Court behind closed doors and tightly-drawn velvet curtains and get unsavoury details and incidents suppressed.

BTW: the footballer is apparently Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs, but that’s just a rumour I picked up on Twitter. I’m willing to repeat it because I don’t really care. I think Ryan Giggs is a great player, but the whole idea of banning coverage in the media via an all-inclusive and secret gagging order is disgusting. On balance, naming the celebrities and public figures caught up in this is the least of sins.

Giggs apparently spent 50,000 pounds on the injunction reportedly to keep his name out of a sex scandal involving a woman called Imogen Thomas who seems to be famous for taking her clothes off in lad mags like Zoo and Loaded.

Ms Thomas working hard for the money

Giggs probably didn’t want his family to know about his affair with her.

Now Giggs has outed himself by suing Twitter, Ms Thomas and several Twitter users who named him in tweets. According to the Guardian, it is possible a tabloid news organisation first leaked his link with Thomas and the superinjunctions.

A PREMIERSHIP footballer is suing Twitter and several of its users after information that was supposed to be covered by a super-injunction was published on the micro-blogging site. (The Scotsman)

Giggs was named by Spanish media ahead of the Man U v Barca UEFA Champions’ League final next weekend. Perhaps a little pride and niggle in that?

All I can say to that is “Idiot”. Did Giggs really think that suing Twitter was going to shut this matter down.

It seems that Ms Thomas was a former Big Brother contestant and she is upset that Giggs was able to keep his name out of the papers while she is the centre of allegations she tried to blackmail the Premier League player.

‘Yet again my name and my reputation are being trashed while the man I had a relationship with is able to hide.

‘What’s more, I can’t even defend myself because I have been gagged. Where’s the fairness in that? What about my reputation?

‘If this is the way privacy injunctions are supposed to work then there’s something seriously wrong with the law.’ (Daily Mail)

But, wait it gets worse. Now grubby politicians are getting into the act of breaking suppression orders and super injunctions. A Liberal Democrat in the UK has used parliamentary privilege to attack a merchant bwanker for an alleged sexual dalliance.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge criticised MPs and peers for “flouting a court order just because they disagree with a court order or for that matter because they disagree with the law of privacy which Parliament has created”.

Yesterday Lib Dem peer Lord Stoneham used the protection of parliamentary privilege to reveal allegations that former RBS boss Sir Fred Goodwin had taken out a super injunction to conceal an affair with a colleague at the bank. (epolitix)

Why are these people so ashamed of what they’re doing? The fuckers (and they are at it like rabbits) should either stop shagging with people they’re not supposed to or learn to live with the consequences of their actions.

Are we over it yet?

The most sensible #superinjunction tweet

Some numbers that don’t add up

My colleague Joseph Peart put together some numbers for me regarding the use of Twitter and they are interesting.

Stats from Fortune magazine, May 2, 2011 (pp42 – 45). “Trouble @ Twitter” by Daniel Roberts

• 47% of those who have Twitter accounts are no longer active on the service.

• The time spent per month has dropped from 14min 6sec in 2010 to 12min 37sec in 2011. (Joseph Peart estimates that if usage continues to drop at 1 ½ minutes a year; by 2020, there will be no Twitter users.)

• 40% of Tweets come from a mobile device.

• 70% of Twitter accounts are based outside the U.S.

• 50% of active users access Twitter on more than one platform.

• Not all Twitter users are tweeters: less than 25% of users generate more than 90% of worldwide tweets.

• Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers that the entire populations of Sweden or Israel.

Then, from the book “Socialnomics” by Erik Qualman.

• We no longer search for the news the news finds us via social media.

• 96% of Millenials have joined a social network.

• Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S.

• If Facebook were a country it would be the World’s 3rd largest.

• 60 million status updates happen on Facebook daily.

• 50% of mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook

• It seems that Gen Y considers email passé, so some Unis have stopped distributing email addresses and are distributing eReaders, iPads and/or Tablets

• YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world

• There are more than 200 million Blogs worldwide.


Kiwi newspaper ‘discovers’ Facebook photos: “Ethics? What dilemma?”

July 25, 2010

Sunday News this week uncovered photos on 32-year-old [Carmen] Thomas’s Facebook page showing her playfully pecking the cheek of All Blacks midfield sensation Ma’a Nonu and embracing wing Anthony Tuitavake.

[Bunting, 25 July, Sunday News]

Gosh, I’m absolutely stunned with awe; marvelling at the forensic abilities of the Sunday News. How devastatingly newsworthy…the paper’s found out that a missing woman has been seen in a bar with two footballers.

Stunning stuff, let’s hope the police are as astute as Sunday News and are right now questioning the two players. They may know something about Carmen Thomas’ disappearance.

The headline suggest this momentous event has just happened and Carmen hasn’t been seen for about three weeks:

Missing mum poses with All Blacks

And isn’t it fantastic that there’s been a sighting of her, after all her anxious friends, her employer, her mother  and her child are beside themselves with worry.

“Oh, what’s that?” Hang on, check the details…Why? What’s wrong with this picture?

It’s not known when or where the photos were taken but the social networking site has recorded them as being uploaded on September 22, 2008.

Fuck me, the photos are nearly two years old.

Why is this newsworthy? Why is this in the paper?

Oh yeah, right, the All Blacks’ connection. We get to this point a few pars into the non-story. In an attempt to ‘keep it real’ the reporter valiantly attempts to link the All Blacks to the police investigation:

Investigation head, Mark Benefield, was reluctant to comment on Thomas’ online photos but confirmed police were “aware” of them, and that “there are several photographs of her on it [Facebook] in the company of people from all walks of life”.

“As far as we know at this stage of the investigation, there is nothing sinister in any of the photographs posted by Carmen on her pages,” Benefield said. The acting detective inspector wouldn’t say whether police had contacted the rugby stars.

Finbarr, mate, you are flogging a dead horse here. You’ve squeezed all the juice out of this particular lemon and there’s no more blood in this stone.

If I was Benefield I’d be reluctant too; knowing that whatever I said was going to be quoted at length in a cheesey hole-filler, arm-wrestled into the raggiest rag in the land.

What a tasteless, low-rent and ultimately meaningless bit of reporting.

And what investigative skills.

The Facebook photos are only visible to Thomas’ friends and their friends.

Not any more they’re not. Thanks to Sunday News we can all perv at them.

I’ve written before about gratuitous invasions of Facebook privacy by gawking media vultures. This is a classic case of reducing a person to the sum of their parts. I have no doubt that if there had been any ‘racier’ images, the Sunday News would have had no qualms about publishing them.

And let’s be clear, every newspaper in the country would do it too.

This is a wild-west frontier in journalism ethics and at the moment everyone’s behaving like a drunken cowboy in a saloon.

It’s not good enough. It is time for news organisations to establish some ethical and fair use guidelines around the plundering of Facebook for images and story leads.

There are legitimate reasons why journalists should be using social media tools to enhance their reporting; but sitting on your arse in the office downloading what is really someone else’s private property is not one of them. There are copyright issues here – is it stealing?

And of course it would seem that these egregious breaches of privacy can be overlooked because all you’re doing is exploiting some other numbnuck’s inability to operate the complex technical settings on Facebook.

Let’s be clear: what you’re doing is not journalism.

There is no pubic interest in publishing two-year old photos of Carmen Thomas with a couple of footy players; all it does is satisfy the ego of a couple of hacks without conscience.

It makes me sick.

The reporter doesn’t say how he got access to Ms Thomas’ private photos, but I guess it doesn’t matter does it. Whatever privacy settings you have on your Facebook page, to the news media goon squad it’s all public property and access is just a click away.

After all, if you’re too stupid to stop us, too fucken bad, we’re coming; guns blazing and whiskey-stained breath on your neck.


Whale-watching: gathering storm clouds?

January 13, 2010

I’m a bit under-capacitated at the moment, here’s today’s links with brief comments.

JamesMurray’s blog at TV3, sustains an argument that the method not the purpose is the problem with Whale’s crusade:

To some degree Whaleoil has a point – name suppression laws, which were last reviewed in 1985, are hideously out-of-date in a society where we can all become publishers of content at the push of a button.

And it seems distasteful, at the very least, that a well-known entertainer should receive permanent name suppression for a sexual assault where revealing his identity might harm his career in a disproportionate manner.

This is not a luxury that would be afforded to someone not in the public eye. It is a double standard that needs to be rectified. There may be an argument that we need to protect celebrities or other well known people from undue media scrutiny in cases like these, but that argument is squashed by the need for a justice system that treats each man as an equal.

My problem with Whaleoil is not his idea but his method.

Views on news: Coward’s way

The question is just how out-of-date are suppression rules? I don’t think we can assume they don’t apply to bloggers as well as MSM publishing ventures.

Second, the rules talk about hardship to victims of crime (including the perps) and the Law Commission’s recommendations include amending this to undue hardship”. One could argue that loss of income is hardship.

Third, why are we so caught up on revenge and the punishment of shame?

The Dom Post‘s editorial has a bit both ways:

Slater is on a mission. He has said, outside the courtroom, that he believes everyone should be equal before the law, that celebrities and the wealthy have their identities suppressed more often and more easily than do ordinary Kiwis, and that the law needs changing.

The Dominion Post agrees. But there are better ways to lobby for a more open court system than by putting at risk the future of a teenage girl.

At times of egregious breach, the solicitor-general has been keen to go after those in the mainstream media who have broken suppression orders or otherwise committed contempt of court.

Either everyone who breaches this law is prosecuted, or no-one is. And were the latter to become the reality, those sections of the Criminal Justice Act pertaining to suppression orders need to be repealed.

Dom Post: …take notice

Media law academic Steve Price provides some welcome legal context:

Why are they picking on Mr Oil? Well, whereas the media pay lip service to the suppression orders and laws, Mr Oil rather thumbs his nose at them. Also, I’m guessing the police may well be using Mr Oil as a test case to send a message to others. I don’t like that practice much, but again, they’re within their rights, and it’s no defence for Mr Oil to complain that he’s been singled out. The Solicitor-General has done that with contempt prosecutions fairly regularly…

For those who think it’s discriminatory to give suppression orders to celebrities but not oiks like us, consider this: if you got prosecuted for weeing behind a pub, the media wouldn’t be interested. If it was an All Black, it would be front-page news. Those are the effects of a judge opting not to impose a name suppression order. Isn’t there a decent argument that that would be discriminatory too, and that name suppression merely irons out the discrepancy? (Not saying I buy that entirely, just that the issue’s a bit more complicated than some people suggest.)

Media Law Journal: Whale of a campaign

There was another name suppressed today. The alleged cop-shooter on attempted murder charges in Manukau District Court.

There may be a gathering storm…

When the Police charged me to “set an exam­ple” they picked the wrong per­son. If they wanted a sac­ri­fi­cial lamb they should have picked a lefty, they would have lain down and said fuck me in the arse because I like it and I’ll say sorry after­wards and pay a fine, I should have been more sub­servient, and doff their caps to the estab­lish­ment as they left court. But then lefty weak­lings never test the edge unless it is in favour of peo­ple like Pol Pot or Hamas.

Whaleoil: Sanctimonious, unctous twat alert.

A pithy and pungent attack on Whale’s political foes and those who question his purpose.

Mr Slater isn’t prepared to allow the process of legislative reform take its course. You see, he already knows what needs done, and knows that he is just the person to bring about these needed changes. So he’s started “outing” the names of individuals where these have been suppressed by the courts, on the basis that people want to know them and so he’ll tell them. And anyway, why should criminal scum get to hide from the righteous wrath of the mobilised mob?

Pundit: Wonky jihad #2.

An object of Whale’s substantial scorn, but raising serious issues about suppression & blogger “justice”

Cameron will find out in due course, whether or not that is seen to identify the ex-MP with name supression, but if they do prosecute the Whale, the question has to be asked whether newspapers should be charged also?

The man’s name was suppressed when he appeared in the Nelson District Court on Thursday.

A Sunday newspaper published details about the man, which Slater said had narrowed the field of possible accused to three.

He wanted to clarify who the accused was so the other two men were not unfairly accused.

Now I am not gunning for the Herald on Sunday. But I would say that far more people worked out from their story, who the accussed is, than the handful of people who were capable of working out the code Cameron had used, and reverse engineering it into hexadecimal and finally the  alphabet.

Kiwiblog: Who made it easier?

Has the HoS breached?

I don’t believe that Cameron Slater is giving power to the victims in these cases, nor do I believe that is his intention, although it might be a justification he is using now. I think he is trying to build power for himself. And that’s a cynical abuse of very real situtations for actual real people.

The hand mirror:  Cameron Slater please stop.

Victims of sexual violence could be the losers here

Prick seems to think he could put this child’s identity into the public arena with his stupid coded message and get away with it. (Don’t fool yourselves, pathetic righties. The identity of the alleged assailant will have identified the victim to those who know them). He actually said the Police should have better things to do than nab him for his blatant, unrepentant crime. He thinks he has the right to add to the suffering of sex victims to get himself some more airtime. (Congrats, btw, to news outlets that are refusing to name his blog and its URL).

The Standard: Scumbag Slater.

Dishing & taking the shitstorm, vitriol all’round

We think that Whale is bloody brave, but in this incident the victim could be a family member and if that is the case we can see some justification for suppression.

However, we have also read the post of Lisa Lewis today, who writes about being abused at a young age and wished that at the time the name of the perpetrator was made public.

Its clear to see that this debate will continue for some time and its a hot issue – Gotcha – Whales website has crashed and our site is getting many hits searching for anything we have published on the MP who is alleged to have been charged with sex offences.

RoarPrwan: Whale’s dork.

Fence-sitting, fame by association

Lets put that into perspective for a minute.

If every blogger in New Zealand posted the man’s identity in the headline of a post, and nothing else on the post. Would that breach suppression? Would the Police charge every blogger who posted his name in the headline and nothing else in the post?

Because if even 20 blogs did it that is an awful lot of police work required.

Where is the link?

That link would be formed by the MSM who post their own stories such as this one.

In isolation Whaleoil’s post meant absolutely nothing. Others have simply decoded it and then wrote their own stories in relation to linking it back to the details released at the weekend. Some haven’t even bothered to decode it at all and have just jumped up and down saying Whaleoil has breached the suppression order.

Cactus Kate: You can’t suppress a whale

An offshore perspective.

Whale is unrepentant and determined to continue making his points. He’s inviting legal retaliation and seems to be relishing the fight.

Thanks to his binary code stunt, it seems many more people are aware of the identity of the former MP who’s now an alledged sex offender.

The issues are becoming a little clearer and it seems that a perceived double standard is at the centre…

Do high-profile defendants get preferential treatment in name suppression?

Can a blogger be charged/convicted for a breach in the same way as the MSM?

How will the government react to the pressure for change & what will happen to the Law Cnnission report?


Legal letter freaks Big News – should the Internet be “Adults Only”?

April 28, 2009

A week ago I mentioned an interesting little blogwar breaking out in Wellington, now the skirmish has gone nuclear with one protagonist sending a lawyer’s letter to Dave Crampton host of  the Big News blog.

The row started when someone began to spam a Big News post suggesting that the media now back-off in the Tony Veitch case. Whoever the spammer was posted something like  40 comments in less than half-an-hour. The spammer used the names of Tony Veitch, Zoe Halford, Glenda Hughes, TV3 producer Carol Hirschfeld, Sailent editor Jackson Wood, big News host Dave Crampton and TVNZ’s Mark Sainsbury to put offensive and stupid comments into the post thread.

Now it’s come down to a threat of legal action. A threat that could have serious consequences for the blogosphere in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Read the rest of this entry »


Veitch and Holmes – on-the-record is forever

March 1, 2009

The Tony Veitch saga continues to get front page treatment in the Sunday papers. In this week’s installment the Herald on Sunday reports on its own involvement in the case and a police warrant to search the paper’s office.

The last time I had a serious go at the HoS, I got an irate call from editor Shayne Currie and an offer (or maybe a challenge) that I spend some time in the paper’s newsroom to see for myself how it worked and how the integrity of its reporting is maintained. I was just about to leave on an extended overseas trip, so couldn’t take up the offer, but I fully intend to…as soon as I get the book manuscript off my desk.

Anyway, as I told Shane last year, I am not having a go at individuals, nor do I pick on any particular paper or media outlet in my commentary. My aim is to put on the table some discussion points and to provoke debate. That’s my intention this week and it also happens that there’s a Rosemary McLeod column in the Sunday Star Times on the Vietch story; so I intend to be very even-handed.

The statement that caught my eye in the HoS story (page 3 in the print edition) was:

Editor Shayne Currie said the newspaper would co-operate with police in accordance with police guidelines for media searches, but would not breach any journalistic ethics. He said he would be taking legal advice as well as consulting Holmes before deciding whether the tape would be handed over.  [HoS hit by Veitch search warrant]

I am curious about how this ethico-legal paradox might unfold.

Meanwhile, over at the SST, Rosemary McLeod is sounding off about the use of lawyers to stifle debate – in particular attempts to gag journalists and commentators through the use of legal threats. As reported last week, Veitch’s legal and PR machine is threatening to go after media outlets which, they believe, might be having a go at Tony.

Rosemary is not happy about it:

What the public doesn’t know is how often the threat of legal action silences the media.[Money talks - we are gagged]

Really, is it all that common?

Read the rest of this entry »


A Qantas winner, but still overcooking the eggs

May 18, 2008

I wrote last week about the 2008 Qantas Media Awards, suggesting that the surpreme winner – APN’s Herald on Sunday – might take the biscuit for circulation and zippy tabloid headlines, but that it also took the editor’s egg-beater to some stories in the chase for circulation. Well, I’m happy to say, my point’s been proved this week. A front page story about the “lavish” lifestyle of recently released 19-year-old Bailey Kurariki. Read the rest of this entry »


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