Archive for the ‘Law Court Censorship’ Category

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"Lady Chatterley's Lover" Trial: Regina Versus Penguin Books, Ltd. For a quarter of a century, from 1960 until 1985, Jeremy Hutchinson, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, who has died aged 102, was the finest silk in practice at the criminal bar. He defended Lady Chatterley , Fanny Hill and Christine Keeler (Keeler in the flesh), the atom spy George Blake, and then Brian Roberts, the editor of the Daily Telegraph, and later the journalist Duncan Campbell in two cases that led to reform of the Official Secrets Act.He added a service to the arts by ending the cultural vandalism of Mary Whitehouse, whose attempt in 1982 to prosecute the National Theatre for staging Howard Brenton’s The Romans in Britain collapsed after his (and the Old Bailey’s) most remarkable cross-examination.

… see an excellent article from theguardian.com outlining some of Hutchinson major successes.

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HM Courts Service A man who wore a bad taste T-shirt mocking Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster has been fined £795.

Paul Grange admitted a public order offence and told Worcester magistrates that he was ashamed of what he had done and had deservedly lost his home, job, friends and relationship.

Grange pleaded guilty to a charge of displaying abusive writing likely to cause distress. His T-shirt had the slogan: Hillsborough, God’s way of helping Rentokill.

Images of the shirt, which Grange wore in a pub beer garden in May, had been said to have caused ‘outrage’ on social media.

Swedish Courts vs The People…Swedish court claims Wikimedia cannot make a database of photos of public art in Sweden

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gustav i of sweden statue 2007 stockholm Sweden’s supreme court has sided with commercial copyright concerns and ruled that the non-profit internet giant Wikimedia breaches Sweden’s copyright laws by publishing photos of public artworks.Wikimedia is the group behind the free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia. It has created a vast online knowledge repository by allowing members of the public to group-edit entries and upload pictures to its pages for educational purposes.

The disgraceful judgement is a victory for the Visual Copyright Society in Sweden (Bildupphovsrätt  i Sverige – BUS), which sued Wikimedia at Stockholm District Court for publishing photos of Swedish public sculptures and other public artworks without first getting permission from the artists.

In its judgement the supreme court affirmed that Swedish copyright law does permit members of the public to take pictures of public artworks. But, the court said:

It is different when it’s a database where artworks are made available to the public to an unlimited extent without copyright-holders receiving any remuneration. A database of this kind can be deemed to have a commercial value that is not inconsiderable.

Wikimedia’s Swedish operations manager Anna Troberg told The Local:

We are naturally very disappointed. We view this as an anachronistic and restrictive interpretation of copyright laws. It also runs counter to recommendations from the European Court of Human Rights.

Troberg said the group would now consult its lawyer and its parent foundation in the United States before deciding what action to take.

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police west yorkshire logo Criminal cases of publishing extreme porn and other supposedly obscene materials nearly trebled in West Yorkshire last year.Figures from the Home Office have revealed the number of recorded crimes of obscene publication in the year up to and including September 2015. Obscene materials were found to have been published on 673 occasions in West Yorkshire during this period, an increase of nearly treble compared to the 228 such crimes in the previous 12-month period.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service examples of materials that are considered obscene include bestiality, extreme sadomasochism, realistic portrayals of rape and bondage.

Across the whole of England and Wales there were 10,644 cases of obscene publication in the 12 months up to and including September 2015. This is the equivalent of 1.9 cases for every 10,000 people. This is an increase of 98% compared to 5,376 such crimes in the 12 months to September 2014.

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Old Bailey Several groups representing the interests of big media companies have won a judicial review challenging the UK Government’s decision to allow copying for personal use. According to the High Court, there’s insufficient evidence to prove that the legislation doesn’t hurt musicians and the industry.last year the UK Government legalized copying for private use , a practice which many citizens already believed to be legal.

The change was in the best interest of consumers, the Government reasoned, but several music industry organizations challenged the decision as they felt it harmed their own interests.

In November the Musicians’ Union (MU), the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and UK Music applied for a judicial review of the new legislation. They disagreed with the Government’s conclusion that the change would cause no financial harm to the music industry.

Instead of keeping copies free, they suggested that a tax should be applied to blank media including blank CDs, hard drives, memory sticks and other blank media. This money would then be shared among rightsholders, a mechanism already operating in other European countries.

The High Court largely agreed with the music industry groups. The Government’s conclusion that copyright holders will not suffer any significant harm was based on inadequate evidence, Mr Justice Green claimed. The judge wrote:

In conclusion, the decision to introduce section 28B [private copying] in the absence of a compensation mechanism is unlawful.

The UK music groups are happy with the outcome and are eager to discuss possible changes with lawmakers.

The High Court scheduled a new hearing next month to decide what action should be taken in response to the judgment, including whether the private copying exceptions should be scrapped from law.

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public prosecution service logo An evangelical preacher who described Islam as satanic and heathen isto be prosecuted for insult.Speaking to his congregation in north Belfast on 18 May, McConnell said:

A new evil had arisen and there are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain.

Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.

In a statement, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said the firebrand preacher had refused to accept a lesser punishment which meant the case would not have gone to court. A spokespersector said:

I can confirm that following consideration of a complaint in relation to an internet broadcast of a sermon in May 2014, a decision was taken to offer an individual an informed warning for an offence contrary to the Communications Act 2003.

That offence was one of sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive. The offer of an informed warning was refused by the defendant and accordingly the matter is now proceeding by way of a summary prosecution in the Magistrates Court.

Pastor McConnell initially defended his remarks made during a sermon at his Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle last May but, following a huge public outcry he apologised for any offence or distress caused.

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European court buildings The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has decided that Delfi, an Estonia-based news website, holds responsibility for defamatory comments made by anonymous readers.Access, a digital rights organization, weighed in on the decision, calling it a worrying setback. Furthermore, the organization argues that the ruling contradicts the European Union’s E-Commerce Directive, which protects intermediaries that employ notice-and-takedown mechanisms to deal with user comments.

Access noted that Delfi’s case received disappointing rulings from other courts, even though Estonia has adopted the EU’s E-Commerce Directive. Access says that it denounces the ECHR’s ruling, stating that it creates a worrying precedent that could force websites to censor content.

The ECHR defended its ruling by citing the extreme nature of the comments which the court considered to amount to hate speech, the fact that they were published on a professionally-run and commercial news website.

The Center for Democracy & Technology notes:

Holding content hosts liable for their users’ speech is a shortcut to censorship for governments and private litigants who cannot easily identify an anonymous speaker or seek a judgment against her. The threat of liability creates strong incentives for content hosts to preview and approve all user comments, and to censor with a broad brush, limit access to their services, and restrict users’ ability to communicate freely over their platforms. In a world where all online speech is intermediated by web servers, news portals, social media platforms, search engines, and ISPs, the collateral consequences of intermediary liability are potentially enormous.