Tag Archives: First Amendment

New course helps manage social media risk

By MARK PEARSON

Griffith University has issued the following release on our fully online global social media law course which I will be teaching from March 2015.

social-media-law-risk-management-postgraduate-degree-griffith

New course helps manage social media risk

Managing your social media risk and protecting your brand is the focus of a fully online global social media law course to be offered at Griffith University from March 2015.

Social Media Law and Risk Management is aimed at professional communicators internationally who want an introduction to the laws impacting on social media use and other strategies for strategic social media management.

“It addresses one of the key organisational and crisis communication phenomena of the modern era – engaging effectively and internationally with a range of stakeholders using social media while being cognisant of laws, risks and policies,’’ says course convenor Professor Mark Pearson.

“The course examines the dynamic role of social media law and risk management in a range of social and political contexts internationally, particularly in averting communication crises.

“It provides advanced knowledge and skills in the use of social media by government, non-governmental organisations, business and the general public.”

Professor Pearson is the author of Blogging and Tweeting Without Getting Sued – A Global guide to the Law for Anyone Writing Online, co-author (with Mark Polden) of The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law and the Australian correspondent for Reporters Without Borders. His Twitter handle is @journlaw.

Social Media Law and Risk Management is offered online as a stand-alone course or as part of a suite of four courses in the Graduate Certificate in Crisis Communication for students who can visit Griffith University’s Gold Coast or Nathan campuses for their other three courses.

Media Contact: Deborah Marshall, 0409 613 992, d.marshall@griffith.edu.au

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Please drop me a line at m.pearson@griffith.edu.au if you would like further information after reading the course brochure available here.

© Mark Pearson 2014

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

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Course outline for global social media law course starting in March

By MARK PEARSON

WE have now posted the course profile for our fully online global social media law course which I will be teaching from Griffith University, starting in March 2015.

social-media-law-risk-management-postgraduate-degree-griffith

 

Titled ‘Social Media Law and Risk Management’, the course is targeted at professional communicators internationally who want an introduction to the laws impacting on social media use and other strategies for strategic social media management including social media policies and risk analysis.

The course can be undertaken as a fully online, stand-alone unit if you just want these skills and may not be able to attend in person, or as part of a suite of four courses in the Graduate Certificate in Crisis Management for students who can visit Griffith University’s Gold Coast or Nathan campuses for their other three courses.

You can read more about the entry requirements, application procedures and fees for the social media law course here.

The course outline, including the learning activities and assessment, can be viewed here.

The course examines the dynamic role of social media law and risk management in a range of social and political contexts internationally, particularly in the averting of communication crises. It provides advanced knowledge and skills in the use of social media by government, non-governmental organisations, business, and the general public. Its special focus is on law and risk management in social media in a global context.

After explaining the basic legal concepts required for effective analysis and understanding, and the elements of stakeholder theory underpinning the course, we then proceed to examine key areas of the law arising internationally when professional communicators use social media. These include defamation, contempt of court, privacy, confidentiality, discrimination, copyright, consumer law and censorship. This feeds into a critical examination of the terms of use of social media providers, effective social media policy formulation and social media risk management – all key skills and understandings for crisis communication.

The course can be completed online with no requirement for on-campus attendance. For on-campus students two meetings per semester will be held on the Nathan and Gold Coast campuses for students to meet colleagues and workshop material with instructors. Learning activities will include video lectures, readings, online discussion board activity, social media interaction, multiple choice quizzes and problem-based learning. Each module is focused upon a social media law or risk scenario where students are challenged to draw upon their readings, case studies and professional experience to map out an appropriate diagnosis and strategic course of action.

‘Social Media Law and Risk Management’ addresses one of the key organisational and crisis communication phenomena of the modern era – engaging effectively and internationally with a range of stakeholders using social media while being cognisant of laws, risks and policies.

The course integrates theory and practice by introducing both stakeholder theory and jurisprudential theory of legal systems in the first module and then applying both in the balance of the course throughout learning activities and assessment tasks. The readings, learning problems and portfolio are designed to allow students to find recent cases from within their own jurisdictions internationally to make their learning most relevant to their particular nation, state or territory of professional practice.

Of course, social media is an international medium and therefore all students need to be broadly aware of the laws and risks applying globally. The course bears a direct relationship to students’ professional needs as crisis communicators in a variety of career roles – public relations, journalism, government communications, corporate communications, social media moderation, marketing, human resources and law.

Assessment includes a reflective learning journal, online multiple choice quizzes, and a written assignment involving the critical appraisal of a social media policy.

Please drop me a line at m.pearson@griffith.edu.au if you would like further information after reading the course brochure available here.

© Mark Pearson 2015

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

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Griffith Uni to offer online global social media law course

By MARK PEARSON

WE are now taking applications for a fully online global social media law course which I will be teaching from Griffith University, starting in March 2015.

social-media-law-risk-management-postgraduate-degree-griffith

 

Titled ‘Social Media Law and Risk Management’, the course is targeted at professional communicators internationally who want an introduction to the laws impacting on social media use and other strategies for strategic social media management including social media policies and risk analysis.

The course can be undertaken as a fully online, stand-alone unit if you just want these skills and may not be able to attend in person, or as part of a suite of four courses in the Graduate Certificate in Crisis Management for students who can visit Griffith University’s Gold Coast or Nathan campuses for their other three courses.

You can read more about the entry requirements, application procedures and fees for the social media law course here.

The course examines the dynamic role of social media law and risk management in a range of social and political contexts internationally, particularly in the averting of communication crises. It provides advanced knowledge and skills in the use of social media by government, non-governmental organisations, business, and the general public. Its special focus is on law and risk management in social media in a global context.

After explaining the basic legal concepts required for effective analysis and understanding, and the elements of stakeholder theory underpinning the course, we then proceed to examine key areas of the law arising internationally when professional communicators use social media. These include defamation, contempt of court, privacy, confidentiality, discrimination, copyright, consumer law and censorship. This feeds into a critical examination of the terms of use of social media providers, effective social media policy formulation and social media risk management – all key skills and understandings for crisis communication.

The course can be completed online with no requirement for on-campus attendance. For on-campus students two meetings per semester will be held on the Nathan and Gold Coast campuses for students to meet colleagues and workshop material with instructors. Learning activities will include video lectures, readings, online discussion board activity, social media interaction, multiple choice quizzes and problem-based learning. Each module is focused upon a social media law or risk scenario where students are challenged to draw upon their readings, case studies and professional experience to map out an appropriate diagnosis and strategic course of action.

‘Social Media Law and Risk Management’ addresses one of the key organisational and crisis communication phenomena of the modern era – engaging effectively and internationally with a range of stakeholders using social media while being cognisant of laws, risks and policies.

The course integrates theory and practice by introducing both stakeholder theory and jurisprudential theory of legal systems in the first module and then applying both in the balance of the course throughout learning activities and assessment tasks. The readings, learning problems and portfolio are designed to allow students to find recent cases from within their own jurisdictions internationally to make their learning most relevant to their particular nation, state or territory of professional practice.

Of course, social media is an international medium and therefore all students need to be broadly aware of the laws and risks applying globally. The course bears a direct relationship to students’ professional needs as crisis communicators in a variety of career roles – public relations, journalism, government communications, corporate communications, social media moderation, marketing, human resources and law.

Assessment includes a reflective learning journal, online multiple choice quizzes, and a written assignment involving the critical appraisal of a social media policy.

Please drop me a line at m.pearson@griffith.edu.au if you would like further information after reading the course brochure available here.

© Mark Pearson 2014

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

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Memo #RSF Paris: Australian media freedom at risk from anti-terror laws

By MARK PEARSON

[Research assistance from media freedom intern Jasmine Lincoln]

Memo to: Benjamin Ismail, Bureau Asie-Pacifique, Reporters sans frontiers (RSF – Reporters Without Borders), Paris.

From: Mark Pearson, RSF correspondent, Australia

RSFlogo-enI regret to advise that several events and policy proposals have impacted negatively on the state of media freedom in Australia.

They are highly likely to threaten Australia’s ranking on your forthcoming RSF World Press Freedom Index.

A raft of new laws and policies proposed by the conservative Abbott Government has placed its stamp on media law and free and open public commentary.

The initiatives follow in the steps of the prior Labor Government that had proposed a new media regulatory regime with potentially crippling obligations under the Privacy Act.

In the course of its first year in office the Abbott Government has:

– imposed a media blackout on vital information on the important human rights issue of the fate of asylum seekers;

– initiated major budget cuts on the publicly funded ABC;

– used anti-terror laws to win a ‘super injunction’ on court proceedings that might damage its international relations (see your earlier RSF release on this, which I cannot legally reproduce here for fear of a contempt charge);

– moved to stop not-for-profits advocating against government policy in their service agreements, meaning they lose funding if they criticise the government;

– slated the Office of the Information Commissioner for abolition, promising tardy FOI appeals;

– proposed the taxing of telcos to pay for its new surveillance measures, potentially a modern version of licensing the press;

– proposed ramped up surveillance powers of national security agencies and banning reporting of security operations (See Prime Minister’s August 5 release here);

– proposed increased jail terms for leaks about security matters (you issued a release on July 22 the impact for whistleblowers);

– mooted a new gag on ‘incitement to terrorism’;

– proposed new laws reversing the onus of proof about the purpose of their journey for anyone, including journalists, travelling to Syria or Iraq.

Major media groups have expressed their alarm at the national security proposals in a joint submission stating that the new surveillance powers and measures against whistleblowers would represent an affront to a free press.

Over the same period the judiciary has presided over the jailing of a journalist for breaching a suppression order, the conviction of a blogger for another breach, and several instances of journalists facing contempt charges over refusal to reveal their sources. There have also been numerous suppression orders issued, including this one over a Victorian gangland trial.

Other disturbing signs have been actions by police and departmental chiefs to intimidate journalists and media outlets.

  • The Australian Federal Police raided the Seven Network headquarters in Sydney in February, purportedly in search of evidence of chequebook journalism, triggering an official apology this week.
  • Defence Chief General David Hurley wrote to newly elected Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie in March, warning her not to use the media to criticise the military.
  • Freelance journalist Asher Wolf received a threatening letter from the secretary for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) Martin Bowles following her co-written article for the Guardian Australia on February  19, 2014 titled ‘Immigration Department data lapse reveals asylum seekers’ personal details.’ The public service mandarin’s letter implied Wolf had obtained the material on which the article was based by ‘dishonest or unfair means’ and demanded Wolf agree not to publish the contents and ‘return all hard and soft copies of the information’ including any her storage devices. See the letter here: WolfDIBP to The Guardian – A Wolf. The Sydney Morning Herald later reported that the DIBP was hiring private contractors to trawl social media and order pro-asylum seeker activists to remove their protesting posts.

I am sure you will agree that these developments are not what we would expect to be unfolding in a Western democracy like Australia where media freedom has previously been at a level respected by the international community.

Kind regards,

Mark Pearson (@journlaw)

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Sources for further detail on the national security reforms:

(6 August, 2014). Inquiry into the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 Submission. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/jasmine/Downloads/17.%20Joint%20media%20organisations%20(1).pdf.

Criminal Code Act 1995 (Qld) s. 5.4 (Austl.).

Grubb, B. (19 August, 2014). Anti-leak spy laws will only target ‘reckless’ journalists: Attorney-General’s office. Retrieved from: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/antileak-spy-laws-will-only-target-reckless-journalists-attorneygenerals-office-20140818-1059c7.html.

Grubb, B. (30 July, 2014). Edward Snowden’s lawyer blasts Australian law that would jail journalists reporting on spy leaks. Retrieved from: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/consumer-security/edward-snowdens-lawyer-blasts-australian-law-that-would-jail-journalists-reporting-on-spy-leaks-20140730-zyn95.html.

Hopewell, L. (17 July, 2014). New Aussie Security Laws Would Jail Journalists for Reporting on Snowden Style-Leaks. Retrieved from: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/07/new-aussie-security-laws-would-jail-journalists-for-reporting-on-snowden-style-leaks/.

Murphy, K. (17 August, 2014). David Leyonhjelm believes security changes restrict ordinary Australians. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/17/david-leyonhjelm-security-changes-restrict-australians.

Parliament of Australia (15 August, 2014). Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, 15/08/2014, National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014. Retrieved from: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;adv=yes;db=COMMITTEES;id=committees%2Fcommjnt%2F2066f963-ee87-4000-9816-ebc418b47eb4%2F0002;orderBy=priority,doc_date-rev;query=Dataset%3AcomJoint;rec=0;resCount=Default.

The Greens (1 August, 2014). Brandis presumption of terror guilt could trap journalists, aid workers. Retrieved from: http://greens.org.au/node/5617.

 

© Mark Pearson 2014

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

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I’m heading to Griffith U as Professor of Journalism and Social Media

By MARK PEARSON

After 24 fulfilling years at Bond University I am leaving to take up a position as Professor of Journalism and Social Media at neighbouring Griffith University.

This Friday, December 21, will be my last day at Bond U and I will take a few device-free weeks of long service leave before starting at Griffith U on February 4, 2013.

You would appreciate my mixed emotions after almost a quarter of a century at the one institution.

I was lucky to be part of the foundation staff at Australia’s first private university in 1989 and have worked with a host of great people over those years to build a credible Journalism program, culminating in the wonderful ‘J-team’ of colleagues I’m leaving this week.

That said, I’m excited by the role I’ll be taking up at Griffith U and am looking forward to joining the faculty there. I’ve collaborated with at least four of my Griffith colleagues on research projects previously and am keen to resume old friendships and start new ones.

As a journalist I am hesitant to claim ‘firsts’, but I can’t find another “Professor of Journalism and Social Media” on a Google-search, although there are a few professors of social media internationally. Please let me know if you find one out there! Of course, I’ll be specialising in the social media law, ethics, risk and policy space in my social media research and teaching and make no claim to be expert in all things social media.

My teaching timetable has already been decided and I’m able to devote my first semester to lecturing and tutoring in my primary field of media law.

My new email address will be m.pearson@griffith.edu.au , but meanwhile you can contact me at journlaw@gmail.com.

I’ve packed 24 years worth of books and papers into boxes to move up the motorway to my new office at Griffith U’s Gold Coast campus, just a 30 minute drive away.

Then it’s Christmas festivities with the family and three weeks of R&R in our motorhome exploring the north coast of New South Wales over summer.

It’s a great life, and I wish you a peaceful and safe festive season.

My journlaw.com blog will resume in February and I’ll also return to the Twittersphere about then @journlaw from my new home at Griffith U.

Best wishes!

Mark (@journlaw)

© Mark Pearson 2012

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The @journlaw slide presentation to the World Public Relations Forum #wprf

By MARK PEARSON

The World Public Relations Forum was held in Melbourne this week and I participated (with Claire O’Rourke from Essential Media) in a feature presentation on social media law and ethics for public relations practitioners. Here are my slides from my presentation on ‘Blogging and Tweeting Without Getting Sued’ for your use (with full attribution, of course). I hope you find them helpful.

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WorldPRForumMarkPearson(@journlaw)presentation19-11-12

© Mark Pearson 2012

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

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Social media legal risks for journalists – the journlaw.com guide to staying safe in the Web 2.0 era

By MARK PEARSON

The latest edition of the Walkley Magazine is out – with the issue in the mail to subscribers and articles gradually being posted to its website. As a teaser, here’s my contribution on the legal risks of social media for journalists:

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Journalists and bloggers face new legal pitfalls in the Web 2.0 publishing environment, writes MARK PEARSON

Industry upheaval has prompted many journalists to retool as bloggers, multimedia producers and social media editors – each with its own set of legal risks.

These roles present exciting new dimensions to journalism – conversations and engagement with audiences, instant global publishing at the press of a button, and new opportunities to share content. But they also present levels of legal exposure most twentieth century journalists did not envisage.

Most of the principles covered in the dusty old media law tomes on a journalist’s bookshelf still hold true for defamation, contempt and confidentiality, but their Web 2.0 application is still being clarified by the courts and reporters and editors need to be aware of their personal legal liability across a range of risk categories.

Old laws, new contexts

Defamation and contempt are still high risk areas for all publishers and numerous judgments in Australia and abroad have established the rules apply just as readily to web and social media postings. Of course, damages awards might be limited if you tarnish someone’s reputation on your Facebook page to your small group of friends. But if your post prompts just one of them to cancel a lucrative contract with the victim, those damages might escalate quickly.

Twitter is still relatively new and the courts are grappling with its implications. For example, judges are yet to decide whether you face any special liability when others retweet your message.  A conservative view would be that a retweeter takes over your liability by republishing – just as anyone forwarding an email did previously. But if your nasty remark goes viral on Twitter the courts might well decide that you should have anticipated republication when you tweeted the original message – because the retweet is so central to the medium. This is virgin territory.

There is still no actionable right to privacy in Australia, although several court decisions and law reform recommendations are moving towards a new statutory tort of privacy invasion. Breach of confidence certainly exists as a legal action and this has been extended in the UK to private information and circumstances.

Facebook comes into play here as journalists download and republish private data and photographs of individuals in the wake of a tragedy or in the midst of a controversy.

That practice also brings us to the murky world of intellectual property and copyright in social media where the media and bloggers have adopted a cut and paste approach to the words and images of others online. This defies the clear international legal position which is that ‘freely viewed does not equal freely used’.

Intellectual property is a double-edged sword. It’s amazing how some publishers will complain about the theft of their own words or images while their staff are madly appropriating the words and images of others online.

New risks in old newsrooms

The new roles journalists have embraced in their existing newsrooms and the changing ways their organisations work with user-generated content across platforms present other hazards.

Moderation of website and social media comment threads has become a new position description – with inherent legal responsibilities.

A recent West Australian case centred upon racist comments on News Limited’s Perth Now website about indigenous youths who had died in a car accident. The fact that the comments were seen and approved by a moderator influenced the Federal Court’s decision to order the publisher to pay the boys’ mother $12,000 compensation for her humiliation under the Racial Discrimination Act.

The landmark case in the field was ACCC v Allergy Pathways in 2011 where then Federal Court Justice Ray Finkelstein (yes, that Ray Finkelstein of media inquiry fame) held that a company was responsible for comments made by others on its corporate Facebook page.

He suggested the comments – in breach of consumer law – should have been removed within a reasonable time during a routine review process.

But what is a ‘reasonable time’ – and does that period differ in serious defamation, contempt or race hate examples? This raises the legal and industrial issue of whether social media editors should be expected to conduct 24/7 monitoring of comments by other citizens (perhaps nasty trolls) on their social media sites.

Journalists would be well advised to clarify this and other aspects of their social media use in the terms of their contracts and to seek input into the social media policies of their employers.

Some columnists have had their services terminated over their inappropriate social media use, but journalists struggle with the confusion over their workplace and private social media persona, given the fact they publish, blog and tweet under their real names.

Special exposure in new contexts

While some are taking on new digital roles in mainstream media outfits, many are offering their services on freelance or contract terms and others are taking up newly created positions in private enterprise or government.

These work environments typically lack the traditional media’s history of daily engagement with media law, including on-call advice from in-house legal counsel and a generous budget line for courtroom stoushes.

If you are a freelancer or contractor you would be wise to take advice on your own exposure and professional indemnity insurance options – something you didn’t need when you were on the payroll of a large media enterprise.

If you are taking up a new media position in a corporation or government department you should review your work contract carefully for evidence of the industrial consequences you might face if your writing, editing or production triggers legal action.

A defamation threat that might have appeared routine to your managing editor at a newspaper or television network might well be viewed as a crisis by your new corporate boss or public service chief and it might even place your job on the line.

As we wave goodbye to journalism as we knew it, opportunities are arising in the mainstream media and beyond.

Media law was always a core training requirement for cadets and journalism students. Now all journalists need to update and extend that knowledge so they can assess their legal exposure across a broader range of work environments and functions.

© Mark Pearson 2012

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

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