Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Parliamentary joint committee publishes report on Draft Defamation Bill

                                                  Science writer wins libel appeal                Photo: englishpen 

The Joint Committee report on the Draft Defamation Bill has been published. Here's the official summary. The main points that jump out for me are:
There are recommendations to formalise the approach to notice and take down procedures on web forums; and to make a distinction between treatment of material from comments made by clearly named/identified individuals and those posted by anonymous ones.
Substantial harm:
The committee report says individuals and corporations should demonstrate serious and substantial harm in order to bring a libel action. These terms will, of course, need to be defined. It also recommends: "corporations should be required to obtain the permission on the court before bringing a libel claim". 
Extension of privilege:
Privilege should be extended to "fair and accurate reports of academic and scientific conferences and also to peer-reviewed articles appearing in journals", says the report. This should be encouraging news for journalists at publications such as New Scientist, who I was talking to recently.
   Here's the full report, if you like that sort of thing. Handily all recommendations are highlighted in bold for ease of scanning. 
  At first glance it looks like there's plenty here for the media to be happy about. But, of course, there's still some way to go before any of these recommendations and other Draft Bill proposals become law.

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