Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: So-called celebrity justice

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    what doesnt kill you makes you stronger. if PAS did get made a test case, i'm sure it would rise from the ashes wayyy more potent.

    Thanks, Fred. Why don't you start your own blog and get your Nietzsche on there? I guess that would more "potency" than being a smart-arse in a forum where you're not going to wear the consequences.

    Sofie's right -- time to move on. But here's a parting thought: Russell is a friend, and I stand up for my friends. You seem to think it's clever to insult him, expose him to serious legal liability, throw a perfectly reasonable request back in his face, then come up with a weasel-word non-apology that reeks of utter insincerity. I disagree, and, Sir, I say farewell.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • dubmugga,

    If you could test this theory out elsewhere, that'd be great.

    dont get out much huh kyle ?

    the back of your mind • Since Nov 2006 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Scrutiny of internet commentary around court activity certainly seems to be at a high right now - wasn't the MoJ or someone specifically looking at Kiwiblog and Trademe for breaching standards around presumed innocence a few months back?

    When Sam Morgan was still running Trade Me he actually got a personal phone call from a judge in advance of one case. And yes, David Farrar got a "please explain" (from the Solictor General's office?) over the OTT comments on his site during the Weatherston trial.

    And the Law Commission has just put out a paper on suppression orders in the last couple of weeks.

    Yup -- and some of the recommendations in it regarding enforcement on the internet are unclear to the point of being alarming. Going to ISPs and hosting companies with takedown orders isn't a good thing, because they have no interest in defending publishers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Gen,

    "old skool rules/laws governing mainstream media dont apply online in much the same way copyright laws aren't respected. Generation 2.0 really dont give a shit eh..."

    Comments like this always strike me as really, really short sighted. It doesn’t matter how much “generation 2.0 don’t give a shit”- the law is the law and all it’s going to take is a content owner coming down on you like a tonne of bricks and you’ll find those 24 songs you shared on Limewire just bankrupted your arse. (Or those funny jokes you made on Public Address landed you – or Russell – with a conviction).

    I’m an IP lawyer so I guess I’m not representative of most Generation 2.0-ers. But the sooner people work to change the law to make it more relevant and applicable, instead of assuming it just doesn’t apply to them, the better.

    Since Nov 2009 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • dubmugga,

    Yup -- and some of the recommendations in it regarding enforcement on the internet are unclear to the point of being alarming. Going to ISPs and hosting companies with takedown orders isn't a good thing, because they have no interest in defending publishers.

    so when you say i clearly dont understand supression orders, it's not just me...i mean, did i really breach the supression order ?

    do you really feel the need to accept responsibility for posters opinions fearing legal action over defending a posters rights to free speech ? I know its your gaff and all so its your rules but is this not also a public place where people can say whatever and you cant be held responsible for that ?

    ...what then will it take to get a site taken to court and the laws tested ?

    the back of your mind • Since Nov 2006 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    @Russell / Craig / Mikaere.
    I should’ve been clearer.

    I asked the question about sites having a case brought against largely out of self-interest as an owner of a site. I was in no way belittling the concern, and certainly wasn’t suggesting PAS should be a test case.

    But I don’t think it’s fair that Russell, as the publisher/owner of this site, should be no less liable for the comments published here than he would be if they were letters to the editor in Planet.

    He’s not really publishing rogue comments IMO.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Gen,

    ISPs might avail themselves of an innocent dissemination defence. Given Russell engages with the discussion on here and attempts mild moderation I doubt he could do the same.

    (I’m operating off defamation tests here but guessing the test re contempt might be similar).

    Since Nov 2009 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I know its your gaff and all so its your rules but is this not also a public place where people can say whatever and you cant be held responsible for that ?

    IANAL, but: actually, no it's not. Russell hosts the site and is responsible for the content.

    Perhaps if you're a believer in pushing the boundaries you might like to make a post on your own blog and invite what comments may come? NB: I really don't recommend you actually do this, but am surprised you haven't done so since you seem to feel so strongly about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • dubmugga,

    Gen...short sighted they may be but so it seems are many of the current laws governing media responsibility and free speech cos they were drafted in a time where they couldn't possibly envision the babylon we exist in now.

    surely a disclaimer saying the views represented in the discussions do not neccessarily represent those of the owners of this site would be cover russells arse...yeah ?

    or even his counter posts to suggest he disagrees would count as evidence of his compliance with court orders ?

    the back of your mind • Since Nov 2006 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    surely a disclaimer saying the views represented in the discussions do not neccessarily represent those of the owners of this site would be cover russells arse...yeah ?

    In some territories, yes, there are safe harbour provisions. In New Zealand, no: I'm the publisher. It does suck.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    I asked the question about sites having a case brought against largely out of self-interest as an owner of a site. I was in no way belittling the concern, and certainly wasn’t suggesting PAS should be a test case.

    Didn't mean to criticise your question, but was miffed that others (not you) seem to be taking light of the issue because they didn't think there was any risk. Hence my answer to you question quickly morphed into a rant about risk mitigation.

    But has there ever been a case in NZ where a site has had a case brought against it because of comments left by people unconnected to the site?

    Well, if someone graffitied my fence with the suppressed name, I could argue that I wasn't responsible since that was not the intended use of my fence. And as long as I arranged to get it removed I'd probably be OK.

    Unlike a fence, PAS is actually intended to be a publishing mechanism, and it is open to the whole world to publish via the discussion forum. So, the publisher (Russell) is rightly the one who needs to take responsibility for what is published. I suspect the court would weigh up how closely he moderates any potentially suppression-breaking posts. Given that he can't physically prevent an illegal post, I think the court would reason that as long as he acted in good faith and within a reasonable time span (which would be quite quick, IMO), then he would have a defence.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 525 posts Report Reply

  • dubmugga,

    In some territories, yes, there are safe harbour provisions. In New Zealand, no: I'm the publisher. It does suck.

    that doesnt suck, that blows...hard!!!...so would you fancy a law change to make it otherwise ?

    sure in hindsight i broke your rules and i'm sorry bout that but did i really break the law ?

    does name supression apply to name only or does it apply to ethnicity, employment sector, hobbies, friends and does it even apply to an entertainers pseudonym which isnt their real name either ?

    the back of your mind • Since Nov 2006 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    He’s not really publishing rogue comments IMO.

    Well... I think Russell made a call that there certain comments on this thread that were edging towards breeching a suppression order and he wanted to nip that crap in the bud.

    But, look, I think Russell wants PAS to be a place he doesn't have to micro-manage; and tonally a damn sight more pleasant and useful than various troll farming operations I could name. That requires a lot of trust on one side, and a hardly onerous degree of self-discipline and respect for the person who isn't exactly getting rich from providing the forum on the other.

    Given that he can't physically prevent an illegal post,

    While totally agreeing with your broader point, I don't know how far that defence would work when a prosecution could point at many blogs that have comment moderation in place.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Gen,

    Dubmugga - anything that could identify the person in question. Best to steer clear.

    Since Nov 2009 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Gen,

    Dubmugga - anything that could identify the person in question. Best to steer clear.

    Since Nov 2009 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Apology accepted.

    I can't recall the exact wording, but if the courts decide you're trying to lead someone to a suppressed name without actually saying it, it's a breach.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    That requires a lot of trust on one side, and a hardly onerous degree of self-discipline and respect for the person who isn't exactly getting rich from providing the forum on the other.

    I just hide my fleet of cars and expensive art collection when you come around, Craig.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    It's evident that they will be treated differently. The bus driver will go to work the next day. He won't be all over the papers and high up in the TV news.

    I think that difference, though, is the price of celebrity. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Unless a performer, for example, only wants to court a small group of friends as his audience, there’s always some aspect of using the media, surely?
    I also agree with Scott’s point: “Being named and shamed can be every bit as devastating for a non-celebrity. The naming of a person convicted or accused of an offence has the potential to destroy that person's career and personal relationships.”

    Wow. Harsh. So if you happen to work in a branch of the arts that might occasionally be reported on you've "lived by the sword"?

    That might be a good point. Hard to say, as I really don’t know who this person is. If your description, “work[s] in a branch of the arts that might occasionally be reported on”, applies to this case, then how much of a celebrity is he? Would he perhaps have received less attention if he had been treated at sentencing like anyone else? The suppression order does seem to have been counterproductive.

    People who work in the arts do actually work to become known for their work.

    Sure, but I think if you get yourself in that position it’s incumbent on you to take care of your reputation - by not committing criminal acts, for a start.

    But it's clear now that you don't have to be "that much of a celeb" to be front page news if you fuck up.

    Again, in this case, is it not the suppression that has largely caused the attention? If he was simply ordered to pay reparations and discharged without conviction I wonder if anyone would be talking about him now. It would have been a comparatively trivial affair.More so than the Sivivatu case, as you said.

    And you know what, Rik? If those people have even half decent lawyers they get discharges and suppression on precisely that basis for this kind of offence.

    Really, that’s the usual outcome? I’d argue that that is wrong as well then. What do you think of the Law Commission recommendations? Do you think many of those cases, and the one we’re discussing here, would meet the higher “exceptional” standard?

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    The Wikipedia "talk" and "history" pages for the person rumoured to be involved are interesting, needless to say.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    I just hide my fleet of cars and expensive art collection when you come around, Craig.

    You still do it personally? How quaint. Why not simply summon the help?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I just hide my fleet of cars and expensive art collection when you come around, Craig.

    And I have seen the work that went into that Reuben Paterson, he's loaded :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    You still do it personally? How quaint. Why not simply summon the help?

    I have my robots do it, silly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Why would the justice system place so much responsibility in Russell's hands? No offence Russell, I sense there's a bit of stress involved in the knowledge that some wanker with a tin 'o spam could shut down half NZ websites by mentioning a name. And that sword is now hanging permanently over the site's head, this is not economically wicked. Also if the celebrity dies, does the suppression stand?

    Why is it a god idea for a case like this to even go to court? Why must everything go to court in New Zealand? Why not just hold mediation at the police station, bring in a J.O.P if you need to. video the mediation so nothing untoward goes on, and if the victim achieves a satisfactory and reasonable outcome, just been done with it. In the interests of sanity.

    IMHO democracy and institutional secrecy should be mutually exclusive, all steps should be taken to ensure that the levels of transparency remain on a positive swing, but...secrecy is totally underrated as a means to control the masses. the secrecy maintains the heirachy, which is why John Key knows and you don't.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2254 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Really, that’s the usual outcome? I’d argue that that is wrong as well then. What do you think of the Law Commission recommendations? Do you think many of those cases, and the one we’re discussing here, would meet the higher “exceptional” standard?

    I'll be clearer on what I think after the panel discussion for Media7 with Gary Gotlieb and Jock Anderson (who, as you might expect have very different views).

    One thing I think is okay to say is that I'm told (ie: I can't absolutely vouch for it) part of the case made by the entertainer's lawyer was a press search -- he was able show that none of the major media organisations had ever reported a conviction for that offence.

    And yet here they were, queueing up to report this one (which they were, even during the interim suppression order).

    Quite a clever move.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Why is it a god idea for a case like this to even go to court? Why must everything go to court in New Zealand? Why not just hold mediation at the police station, bring in a J.O.P if you need to. video the mediation so nothing untoward goes on, and if the victim achieves a satisfactory and reasonable outcome, just been done with it. In the interests of sanity

    The entertainer offered early on to undergo a restorative justice process along those lines. The complainant refused it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

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