Analyse the following fictional scenario and discuss the potential for regulatory sanction and legal liability relating to relating to privacy, defamation and copyright
Case Study Analysis
The case study raises numerous principles and operational requirements that media channels and individuals have to upload. The concerns on privacy, defamation, legal and legislative sanctions.
Australian Law Reform Commission is tasked with overseeing the operations of numerous media platforms and other stakeholders.1 It addresses numerous requirements including upholding the ethical, moral and legal needs of journalism. Some of the guiding principles and frameworks for media privacy standards include the Code of Ethics for MEAA, Privacy Standards for APC (Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000 (Cth), 86)2, and Broadcasting Services Acts 1992 (Cth) s 123.3 These different legislations requires the mass media channels to appreciate the importance of privacy in collecting and disseminating the information. It is evident that Channel XYZ News and its agency broke the rules because it went against the guidelines and decided to interview a young girl.
Jeff can accuse Channel XYZ News of intrusion of privacy regarding the questions to her nine-year-old daughter. In both the research world and the ethical requirements, individuals and professionals have no legal right to collect information from children. In instances where the information from the children is important, consent from the parents or guardians is important. However, Channel XYZ News agents decided to ask the daughter at the lunch break about the food preference of the father. Channel XYZ News intruded the privacy of the child because the questions were asked when the child was at school, the child was asked questions without knowing the context or content of the application.
Another important component is the decision of the sponsor to take a photo and upload it to a social media platform. In ABC v Lenah Game Meats Reference HCA 63 (2001) 185 ALR 1, the judge concluded that taking a picture of private property or private environment does not mean the privacy requirement is upheld.4 The aspect of privacy protection is a combination of numerous actions and activities including the locality, the nature of the activity and disposition of the owner. Jeff was in a “public” environment when the picture was taken meaning the aspects of privacy angle is unviable. Secondly, Jeff is a public figure meaning most of the information pertaining to his conduct and behavior are also not private. Hence, Jeff cannot engage and complain because of the sponsor taking the pictures. Hence, there is a lack of clear demarcation between a private life and a public life for a celebrity such as a sports individual.
Youssoupoff v Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1934) 50 TLR 581, Slesser LJ, at 587 states that a defamation makes an individual to be avoided and shunned.5 The gourmet restaurant may have been affected by Jeff comments and may have contributed to worsening of the business condition. However, the apology may suffice as a means of addressing the defamation by Jeff. According to the Channel XYZ News, Jeff is a well-known footballer meaning the comments made may be embraced by different audiences supporting his views and arguments. The gourmet restaurant owners may argue the comments by Jeff would have contributed to the business condition. Jeff may raise fair comment and truth as his defense. The Defamation Act 2005 (WA) provides defamation defenses, which includes the information is substantially true, the information was contained in public proceedings; the matter was an honest opinion and the defense of Absolute privilege.6 Jeff can argue the assertions are based on honest opinion because he had firsthand experience.
Jeff can sue Channel XYZ News because of the continuous attacks and lack of credible weights on the assertions. For example, Channel XYZ News states that Jeff likes pies and cigarettes, and also he is out of condition and lazy in training. Publishers and writers are required to appreciate the importance of presenting facts. In Hore-Lacy v Cleary & Anor  VSC 215 (25 June 2008), the court ruled on the difference between fair comment and fact.7 A statement is seen as a comment when it appears to be an observation, remark, judgment, criticism, conclusion, inference or deduction and depends on the contexts and situation of the discussions. Some of Jock Grub communication can be seen as comments especially on cigarettes because it may be proved that Jeff smokes. However, the aspects of training and out of condition may not be seen as a comment since the presenter presents information without justification. Jeff can argue the effectiveness of a player is not only scoring but supporting the team in winning the games.
The biased approach of defending reporter Jock Grub but does not consider the negative impact on Jeff. Channel XYZ News broadcasted the news and provided the experiences, reputation and accomplishments of Jock Grub but did not employ a similar approach to Jeff situation. It may be assumed that Jeff was a good footballer before the six games meaning this component should have been highlighted in a similar as the case of Jock Grub. Aleksandra & Ljiljana Gacic & Branislav Ciric v John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd & Matthew Evans  NSWCA 99 raises the high-handed of the mass media.8 The mass media should be impartial in reporting but based on the relations between Jeff and Channel XYZ News; the focus is Jeff. The issue can be exemplified by the decision of other reporters asking or taking the approach of Jock Grub such as asking the daughter on the likes of the father.
Presenters and reporters have to understand the importance of being aware of their boundaries and respecting their boundaries. Jock Grub and Channel XYZ News can be argued as having crossed the boundaries. Marsden v Amalgamated Television Services Pty Ltd  HCA 13 states the issue is not naming an individual but adding some information that may be untrue.9 For example, Jock Grub stated Jeff was lazy in training and determining the truthfulness of such comments is easier and may disqualify the views of Jeff. The coach, for example, may say Jeff is hardworking and participate in training, which contradicts the views of Jock Grub. It illustrates the crossing of limits and the issue can be seen in the decision to ask Jeff’s daughter on what food the father likes. Apart from infringing the privacy requirements, the presenters and Channel XYZ News crossed the journalism boundaries.
The sponsor took the picture and had the copyright power. Channel XYZ News was required to request for permission to use the information because, without the permission, the decision would be seen as plagiarism. For instance, the photo was used as the theme for the story that night without seeking the view of Jeff or the sponsor. The photo bellows to the individual who took the image and it is the sponsor. Hence, it is wrong for Channel XYZ News to use information that it does not have ownership.
Jeff is seen as a celebrity and a public figure because of participation is social responsibilities in Australia. The component of social responsibility is sporting, and the sporting opens Jeff to public scrutiny and critique. In Australia, celebrities are vulnerable because of lack of legislations and legal remedies in protecting their respective images. Jeff image was taken during a sponsorship session and in one of the picture, Jeff was smoking. It is public knowledge that Jeff smokes, and smoking is not illegal. Therefore, Jeff cannot seek a legal remedy or restitution because of lack of effective legal framework and guidance in Australia.
Potential for Regulation Sanction and Ethics
The broadcasting and media platforms have clear directives in formulation and implementation of operational requirements. For example, it is ethically and morally wrong to ask children questions and wrong to utilize “illegally” obtained information for the communication or other analysis. Channel XYZ News agents asked the daughter questions without consent knowingly it is wrong to ask such questions. The child sometimes is biased in the presentation of the information because of lack of understanding of the requirements of the question and other ideological requirements.10 The comments from the child were also broadcasted without providing any clarification or context of the situation. All these processes are against the journalism framework, and it is open to potential regulatory action. The regulatory action may include a warning or fining, or other severe punishments are depending gauging the actions and behaviors of Channel XYZ News and its agents.
National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research provides the guidelines for collecting information from participates and states that consent is integral in the entire process. The consent includes fulfillment of specific conditions including the voluntary choice to present views, sufficient understanding of the subject matter, and the implications of the research. The aspect of consent was not employed in collecting the information from the nine-year-old daughter, and both the cameraman and the reporter for Channel XYZ News contravened ethical requirement in collecting the views.
The role of mass media channels is to educate, inform and update the audiences among other activities. However, the actions and strategies of Channel XYZ News targeting a single individual may be seen as unethical and immoral in nature. From a neutral perspective, Jeff is a member of the society and has not committed anything wrong apart from deteriorating playing capacity according to Channel XYZ News. Questions such as the reasons for concentrating on Jeff including asking the child questions should be raised.11 Jeff plays for a team and does not perform in a manner to champion the public requirements or public interest. The team that Jeff play can decide to rest the player and does not affect the public. It is appropriate to concentrate on a public matter, but the concentration of an individual matter by Channel XYZ News means there is an ulterior motive.
Impartiality is also not considered in the dissemination of the messages and providing clarification messages. Jeff commented on the quality of the new gourmet restaurant and linked it with the behavior or character of Jock Grub. Channel XYZ News was able to defend Jock tracing the accomplishments of Jock while not incorporating the accomplishments of Jeff. A media news channel should be able to provide information on both of these individuals and leave to the public to arrive at their different or similar conclusions.12 Airing the accomplishments of Jock may infer Jeff has never done anything positive including being an important individual in the sporting industry. Even though it broadcasted the apology, it is not a similar approach Channel XYZ News took in advocating for Jock.
Even though the lack of legal frameworks is a hindrance in implementing numerous mitigation measures, it is not an excuse for the different entities to break the guiding principles. For example, Jeff may have failed initially in critiquing the food but later apologized. However, the approach that Channel XYZ News including its agents creates numerous legal and ethical issues. The solution to these different problems and requirements is for the media channels to uphold ethical and moral ideologies.
1 Australian Law Reform Commission, Consent, < http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/19.%20Consent/background>
2Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000 (Cth), 86
3Broadcasting Services Acts 1992 (Cth) s 123
4ABC v Lenah Game Meats Reference HCA 63 (2001) 185 ALR 1
5Youssoupoff v Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1934) 50 TLR 581
6The Defamation Act 2005 (WA)
7Hore-Lacy v Cleary & Anor  VSC 215
8Aleksandra & Ljiljana Gacic & Branislav Ciric v John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd & Matthew Evans  NSWCA 99
9Marsden v Amalgamated Television Services Pty Ltd  HCA 13
10 Australian Law Reform Commission, Consent, < http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/19.%20Consent/background>
11 Australian Law Reform Commission, Consent, < http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/19.%20Consent/background>
12 Australian Law Reform Commission, Consent, < http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/19.%20Consent/background>