LAW OF COMMUNICATION
University of Canberra
Faculty of Law
MID SEMESTER ASSIGNMENT
Semester 2 2016
UNIT NAME: Law of Communication (UG)
UNIT NUMBER: 9424
DUE DATE AND TIME: 5pm, Sunday 6 November 2016
Marks on this paper 30
Marks for assessment 30
INSTRUCTIONS FOR STUDENTS:
1. Exams must be undertaken individually.
2. Exam papers must be typed and in Microsoft Word format, not PDF (this is to enable individual feedback to be provided).
3. Exam papers must be submitted electronically via Moodle by 5pm, Sunday 6 November 2016. Students will be penalised for late submissions (5% per day, up to seven days after which time submissions will not be accepted).
4. Exam papers must contain the completed cover sheet available on Moodle.
5. Exam papers must contain a bibliography and conform with the Australian Guide to Legal Citation and Canberra Law Review Style Guide (ie. must use footnoting).
6. Refer to Moodle for the assessment criteria, the Unit Outline for the late policy, and the University of Canberra assignment policies for academic integrity guidance. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.
7. All questions in all parts must be answered, to a maximum of 1800 words in total (not +10%). The individual marks for each question are indicated below, and students should use this as a guide for how many words to dedicate to each question.
8. Read the questions and facts carefully! Only address the questions you have been asked.
There was a huge backlash after Ella and Matthews article appeared on Canberra-Leaks. The story was picked up by mainstream news forums, and initially they were praised for exposing Senator Sam. However, after Senator Sam and his wife held a convincing press conference denying his affair and professing their dedication to one another, the news forums turned on Ella and Matthew. Igor Integrity, a journalist employed by the The Canberra Tribune, continued to be outraged over the behaviour of Ella and Matthew. He wrote the following article which was published on the front page of The Canberra Tribunes Saturday edition:
Punk teens stir trouble in Canberra How not to get a HD in Law of Communication
Can you believe the nerve of young kids these days? Fancy making up such salacious content about such well-respected members of our society. I have every respect for rambunctious, budding journalists, but these two obviously did not listen to their Law of Communication lecturer and have now exposed themselves to legal liability.
I also hear they are followers of that hip new religion The Church of Anthropology a ridiculous and offensive religion which brainwashes its impressionable young followers just to make a profit. That explains why they are so anti-politics, as that organisation is all about bringing down the Government.
After reading Igors article and consulting with his lawyers, Senator Sam decides to initiate defamation proceedings against Ella and Matthew in the ACT Supreme Court. By coincidence, the presiding judge happens to be the great aunt of Greta Giggles (the girl who Sams future son-in-law had an affair with). Sam becomes aware of this after an anonymous tip-off.
The next day, Sam appears as a witness at a Senate Estimates hearing at Parliament House. He is asked a series of questions about the Department of Community and Wellbeing function he had attended. He uses the opportunity to make the following statement:
As for the unfounded accusations by those two kids that followed, Im defending my right to protect my reputation in court. What those two did was appalling and they should be held to account. But sadly I dont think justice will prevail in this case after all, Justice Lousie Laughable will not be giving me a fair trial. We all know what her decision will be before any evidence is presented!
After consulting their textbooks and the legal test for defamation, Ella and Matthew are not surprised that Senator Sam has decided to take action against them. In fact, they are fairly sure that he will win. They figure that their best chance might be initiating a little bit of trial by media in the hope that maybe they can attract some public sympathy to put pressure on Sam to drop the case altogether. They are also quite cranky at Igor for what he wrote about them, so decide to kill two birds with one stone and retaliate against him too. That night they upload the following article to the Canberra-Leaks website.
Punk journalist stirs trouble in Canberra How to get a HD in Law of Communication
Can you believe the nerve of crusty old journalists these days? Fancy making up such salacious content about two poor university students just trying to make a difference. We have every respect for experienced journalists but this guy obviously did not study Law of Communication.
As for Sam, perhaps someone else should investigate his own relationship with Greta Giggles! That hound dog cant get enough of the ladies! Tom is not the only naughty one here!
Ella and Matthew did not know for certain that Sam was having an affair with Greta. But the previous day was garbage day in Sams suburb so they rummaged through his rubbish bin. They found a post-it note with Gretas name and phone number on it.
But Ella and Matthew were worried about not enough people viewing the Canberra-Leaks article, particularly given that they had now made it accessible only through subscription at $10 per month. They figure the article would not do much good if no one saw it. So they decided to offer a free set of steak knives to everyone who subscribes. They didnt have the money to buy the steak knives, but prepared in advance a letter of apology to send their subscribers after they signed up and pay the first months subscription fee telling them the wholesaler ran out of stock. It works, as by the end of the week they have over 100 subscribers.
Based on the facts above, answer the following problem questions:
(1) Have Ella and Matthew breached The Canberra Tribunes rights under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) in publishing on Canberra-Leaks the article Punk journalist stirs trouble in Canberra How to get a HD in Law of Communication. In your answer, discuss any defences that might be available to Ella and Matthew and what remedies might be available to The Canberra Tribune. (10 marks)
(2) Did Senator Sams statement during the Senate Estimates Hearing constitute scandalising contempt? In your answer, discuss the defences that might be available and what the consequences for Sam might be. (7 marks)
(3) Have Ella and Matthew breached section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law? (5 marks)
(4) Assuming that Ella and Matthew are members of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, have they breached the AJA Code of Ethics? In your answer, discuss two relevant sections of the Code. (4 marks)
(5) If the common law offence did exist in the ACT, would what Igor wrote be considered blasphemous? (2 marks)
**An additional 2 marks will be allocated for presentation,
including a bibliography, appropriate footnoting and a completed coversheet**