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This subject examines the core legal constraints imposed on the media in their publishing activities. It examines those constraints from the perspective of UK, EU, US, and Australian law.
The first part of the subject requires students to analyse and evaluate broad principles relating to freedom of speech and public interest and their application to the media. It also examines the greater role that the legal protection of human rights, especially in the international context, has played in the development of media law.
Second, the subject explores the constraints that are imposed on the media in their reporting of court proceedings, including contempt of court and the issuing of suppression orders by the courts.
The third part of the subject comprises a comparative examination of the law of defamation. It also draws upon case studies from other jurisdictions, such as Canada and South Africa.
The subject then looks at confidentiality and privacy as it relates to media speech. It considers the current state of privacy protection in Australia and requires students to undertake a comparative analysis of the position in Australia and recent developments in the UK, the EU and the US.
The fifth part of the subject examines journalists’ sources, whistleblower protection and the impact of national security laws on the activities of the media.
The sixth part will examine the regulation of offensive material, including hate speech and racial and religious vilification.
The seventh part will consider copyright and related rights which have an impact on media publishing.
The final part will explore new challenges facing the traditional media and novel issues that arise in relation to new media technologies, including social media and artificial intelligence, and consumer privacy issues.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an understanding of the general principles governing freedom of speech, the public interest and the media;
- Have a detailed understanding of the constraints imposed on the media in the reporting of court proceedings;
- Have a detailed understanding of defamation law as it operates in key jurisdictions;
- Have developed knowledge of the practical operation of defamation law in key jurisdictions;
- Have a detailed understanding of the doctrine of confidential information and privacy law in key jurisdictions as if effects the media;
- Have developed the ability to independently understand and critically analyse legal and scholarly developments that contribute to professional practice in global communications; and
- Have developed the ability to communicate their analysis of the law and its application to audiences in global communications forums.
On completion of this subject, students should have developed:
- Oral skills through contributing to seminar discussions;
- The capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of textual materials;
- The capacity to articulate knowledge and understanding of complex ideas in oral and written form;
- Analytical style writing skills through preparation for tutorials and assignments; and
- An attitude to learning which views pre-reading, reflection and class discussion as essential to learning.
Last updated: 11 February 2021