McLean’s wins Human Rights case

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has refused to hear a complaint against McLean’s Magazine that it published information that held Moslems up to hatred and contempt. The four page decision isn’t available yet (I’ll link to it when it is), but this is one media commentary on it:

CTV, June 28, 2008

Read the Supreme Court’s decision on Mair

and it is interesting reading. Among other things, the judges pointed out that Ms Simpson, an anti-gay activist, herself used provocactive, aggressive language to defend her case, e.g. that there is a “war” between homosexuals and non-homosexuals. Meanwhile, the more long-lasting decision will be the following test on what constitutes “honest belief”, a key component of the argument of “fair comment” that is a standard defense against defamation, particularly by the media.

It is therefore appropriate to modify the “honest belief” element of the fair comment defence so that the test, as modified, consists of the following elements: (a) the comment must be on a matter of public interest; (b) the comment must be based on fact; (c) the comment, though it can include inferences of fact, must be recognizable as comment; (d) the comment must satisfy the following objective test: could any person honestly express that opinion on the proved facts? Even though the comment satisfies the objective test of honest belief, the defence can be defeated if the plaintiff proves that the defendant was subjectively actuated by express malice. The defendant must prove the four elements of the defence before the onus switches back to the plaintiff to establish malice.

Supreme Court of Canada, June 27, 2008

Absence of malice kills libel suit against Rafe Mair

The Supreme Court dismissed libel charges against BC radio host Rafe Mair today, citing fair comment and absence of malice in his remarks. While his comments were the typically outrageous expected from Mr. Mair, nevertheless the justices overturned a lower court ruling.

The court also modified a key component of the fair comment defence that the person making the comment must honestly believe in it.

The court said that the test of honest belief is not to be based on whether the specific person holding the opinion believed it. Rather, the statement should be evaluated on the basis of whether any person might honestly hold the view based on the facts at issue.

CTV, June 27, 2008

Media bias in the copyright debate

Some thoughts from the blogosphere of the conflict of interest most mainstream media face in the copyright debate: Most mainstream media are owned by major ISP providers and tech companies.

“UPDATE:  Hugh comments below that his point was: Most mainstream ISPs are owned by major media companies.”

hughmcquire, June 26 2008

Quebecor fights with unions on on-line reporting

Quebec’s militant journalism unions are fighting Quebecor’s plans to have its journalists do more on-line reporting, as is now common in English language and US media.

Canadian Press, June 27, 2008

Domain names now wide open

The body that regulates domain name use on the web has just allowed for a big expansion from .com and .org. This is likely to set off bidding wars for new names.

CTV, June 26 2008

Orlando Sentinel tries redesign to woo new readers

With ad revenues collapsing in the US, redesign is once again tried to win new readers. Will it work? Well, it basically seems to be USA today bright graphics, short stories and more columns. This one will need some time.

Orlando Sentinel, June 23 2008

If you think media law is tough in Canada….

… check out Slovakia.

Slovakia’s new media law, which took effect this month, requires newspapers and magazines to print replies from people named in an article who feel their “honour, dignity or privacy” has been impinged.

In certain circumstances, papers will be required to print “supplementary” information, even if all of the information in an article is true. And under no circumstance can a paper rebut a reply, even to say that it stands by the facts reported in its original story.

The law also mandates papers pay a prescribed financial compensation to anyone who is refused a reply.

Globe and Mail, June 20, 2008

Canadian entertainment media outlook looks bullish

Pricewaterhousecoopers  issued a report yesterday indicating a solid growth forecast for all Canadian entertainment media, including new media and mainstream media. Again, as all trends seem to indicate, MSM and NM work best together, complementing each other, instead of fighting each other.

“While there are still significant revenues coming from traditional segments the biggest movements and highest growth in consumer and advertising spends will come from those who leverage their existing consumers and advertisers and take them into the world of new media enabling consumers to access content on any platform,” says Tracey Jennings, leader of the PwC Canada entertainment and media practice.

Pricewaterhousecoopers, June 18, 2008

MSM/blogosphere starting to come to terms

Albeit with fear, loathing and mutual suspicion. Nevertheless, the Associated Press is meeting with a blogging group to hammer out some guidelines in which AP stories can be linked to blogs. Copyright law is remarkably vague on concepts such as fair comment and reasonable use; this sounds like a good attempt to set some parameters around an undefined relationship.

The Washington Post, June 17, 2008