What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Australia’s Defamation Law as It Applies to the Media Industry?

Topics: Defamation, Mass media, Journalism Pages: 10 (3832 words) Published: October 2, 2012
What are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Australia’s Defamation Law as it applies to the media industry? Include comparison with defamation laws in the US?

The Defamation Act 2005 objective is to protect the reputation and standing of distinguishable individuals. The law aims to balance free speech with the rights of individuals to enjoy a reputation without indefensible attack. However the question remains as to whether the act protects media personal in allowing them to continue practicing their profession to the best their ability. This question is addressed in the paper which provides an in depth analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the defamation Act in relation to the Australian media landscape. The paper also compares the Australian legislation to that of the United States and United Kingdom in attempting to create a holistic understanding of the legislation and the elements that work best here and overseas. Defamation cases within Australia are also analyses to address the impact of precedent on these advantages and disadvantages and the evolving nature of the media.  

With every new legislation there will be advantages and disadvantages scrutinized for their effectiveness. One such legislation is the Defamation Act 2005. The legislation has several implications to the media industry, that both benefit and disadvantage their ability to continue practicing their job in a protected environment, without risk. The advantages include the uniformed approach to defamation across Australia which ensures media publications are dealt with in a comprehensive manner when they cross borders. Secondly the accountability of defamation laws within Australia guarantees media personnel understand the margins of their ability reproduce work and are protected from being pressured into producing defamatory material. Thirdly the honest opinion defence is a clear advantage of the Defamation Act 2005 in ensuring the media have the ability to produce work that is not based on fact but on their journalistic opinions while still raising matters of public benefits. Disadvantages of the defamation act include the inability for media organisations to due for defamation against other media organisations. Secondly the confusion and inconsistency with the burden of proof being in the eye of the reasonable member of the community makes it difficult for media personnel to distinguish what publications may be viewed as defamatory unit it is published.  Thirdly the scope of governance of the act is limited due to the continually developing landscape of the media sphere. These disadvantages will be further analyses in relationship to the advantages to determine whether the defamation act 2005 is effective in protecting the media industry.

Literature Review
Libel and Defamation in the Information Age
Eric Eden
The report by Eden looks at the evolution of the internet and the effects this has on the libel and defamation cases in both Australia and the US. The report is unfortunately bias and opinionated in its one sided approach to the defamation legislation and its application to individuals on the web. However the article uses an extensive array of cases to demonstrate the ability of the defamation legislation to cover publications on the web. Although he does not highlight the issues of honest opinion in relation to comments posted after media affiliated articles of blog sites. The report is clearly formatted and easy to follow. The use of cases by Eden also adds to the credibility and reliability of the information being presented. Eden highlights two significant issues within the report, one being that “the internet has made the world wide, instantaneous communication easy.” (Eden 1995). And that the average person now holds the power to be heard by millions of people around the globe. Which raises the issue of intention of the publication and jurisdiction of publication as questionable...

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