Who Needs Protection? - 4th September 2003
Who Needs Protection?
was the question raised at the latest "Media
Central" presented by the Macquarie University
Media Department today.
open forum was a rather jovial affair, with a serious
Central was hosted at The Gaelic Club, and came complete
with flashy bar and an Irish bar keeper.
doesn't get better than that!
all important speakers included Roy Baker, researcher
for the Communications Law Center and Stephen Mayne,
founder and editor of Crikey Media.
and then there were the open, uncensored questions
(yes, really), from the audience, which included questions
as diverse as copyright infringements on a certain
brand of chewing gum (long story), to the potential
of a new law being passed to more adequately protect
internet publishers and broadcasters.
that Crikey Media necessarily needs it. From what
Mr Mayne said, just about every time he gets sued,
he ends up making money and subscriptions go up around
30%! It's actually been 101 days since Mayne received
his last writ, and Media Man Australia, and we expect
others, purchased subscription packages from $50 to
$100 on the night.
expected, Mayne, a charismatic, 6ft character, "carried"
the presentation, in an intelligent, witty manner,
while Baker, an affable ex "Pom", backed
up the banter with stats and legal notes. Dr John
Potts, Head of the Uni Department of Media moderated
the event and kept decorum.
highlight of the evening was Baker citing some corrections
from newspapers, featuring misleading and sometimes
incorrect photos that appeared in prominent Australian
included Channel 7 legal "hotshot", Fiona
Robertson, Media Man Australia, media luminaries and
a host of politicians including the Manly independent,
whose name remains a mystery to us. Many appeared
to want to keep their identities secret, as questions
from the floor didn't include the usual, "John
Smith from Channel X".
Media Central and Crikey Media have gone mainstream?
It was even mentioned today in the media section of
News Limited's, The Australian.
audience learned that a number of well known political
and media types have worked the system, apparently
to their advantage. The usual suspects names came
up - Jones, Price, Kennet, Keating.
the other hand, we learnt of some folks who never
sue including John "The Man of Steel" Howard.
the conclusion of the evening all had enjoyed an informative,
light hearted, but illuminating discussion it was
unanimous that the defamation laws in Australia are
geared towards corporations, rather than the "little
time you think of suing for defamation, think again,
unless you have wads of money to throw at the case.
the forum concluded, the audience and presenters mingled,
and Crikey's Mayne and McMurray were doing some serious
hunting for scuttlebug, no doubt to include in a future
scoop. There appeared to be enough gossip to keep
Mrs Mayne, who just happens to be a barrister, very
Man Australia trusts that no one has been defamed
in this account of the evening. It wouldn't be worth
verdict - this media forum was a most educational
and entertaining affair, and we couldn't think of
any better way to spend a Thursday night.
to some highlights of the forum
b: includes chewing gum tale and internet broadcasting
c: more from the evening (some barely audible, which
may actually be a blessing in disguise : )
University Media Department
Wilding, Communications Law Centre
Tien, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Robertson, Australian Broadcasting Authority