Law of Communications
There is a huge back-lash following the publication of Sam Soapbox?s article ?How to win Government contracts? about Jessica Jilted and Senator Larry Leisure-suit. Jessica is particularly upset about it, and following several high-profile companies pulling out of supporting her charity, she brings defamation proceedings against Sam.
During the early pre-trial information gathering stage of the defamation proceedings, Sam is requested to reveal the source of his information about Jessica. He provides copies of the documents he found during his Google search, but is worried about exposing Billy Bribe as his source of Jessica?s personal information from the Department Brief. As tumultuous as their relationship is, Sam knows that the only reason Billy told him what he did is because Sam has an excellent reputation of keeping sources secret.
While pondering what to do about Billy, Sam decides to check out the latest online edition of Girl?s Weekly. Since Sam was fired from that magazine, he takes a keen interest in the type of material that they produce, particularly since it is publically accessible and no password is required to access the articles. While scrolling through the online magazine, he comes across an article about Jessica titled ?How to interact with Government Ministers?. It contains the following paragraph:
Minister Leisure-suit has been spotted engaging in multiple trysts with the delightful Jessica Jilted. While this buxom blonde bombshell may not have the intelligence for business, she has demonstrated that she knows how to use her ?assets? to secure a very profitable business deal with the Minister?s department. Jessica is nothing but a common English criminal; her family having been transported to Australia back in the 18th Century for being dishonest convicts who cannot be trusted ? typical of the English.
Sam thinks that the paragraph looks familiar, so retrieves his previous article ?How to win Government contracts?. He recalls that it contained the following:
Minister Leisure-suit has been spotted engaging in an intimate rendezvous with the delicious Miss JJ of Join Jessica. While this blonde bombshell may not have the brain for business, she has demonstrated that she knows how to use her ?assets? to secure a very profitable business deal with the Minister?s department.
Sam is shocked, and wonders how Girl?s Weekly can get away with this (especially since Sam made up a lot of the content of his article).
(1) Without reference to any legislation that might apply, can Sam be compelled under the common law at this stage to reveal Billy as the source of the information he obtained about Jessica? In your answer, discuss any defences that may be available to him. (5 marks)
(2) How might Sam?s ethical obligations (including under the relevant industry codes of conduct) conflict with his legal obligations with respect to revealing Billy as the source of the information? (5 marks)
(3) Has Girl?s Weekly breached Sam?s rights under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) in publishing the article ?How to interact with Government Ministers?? In your answer, discuss any defences that might be available to Girl?s Weekly and what remedies might be available to Sam. (10 marks)
(4) Has Girl?s Weekly committed an unlawful act under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)? In your answer, discuss whether any exemptions in section 18D apply.
Select the most correct answer for the following multiple choice questions:
(1) Which of the following would not be capable of registration under the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth)? (1 mark)
(a) A sign that is intended to be used, but has not yet been used.
(b) A sign that is not distinct from the goods or services themselves.
(c) A sign that is a colour.
(d) A sign that is a scent.
(2) Which of the following is not an object of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth)?
(a) To give the Australian community access to information held by the Government of the Commonwealth.
(b) To give the Australian community access to information held by high-profile non-Government organisations in matters of broad public interest.
(c) To increase public participation in Government processes.
(d) To increase scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of the Government?s activities.
(3) Which of the following is not true of the Australian legal system?
(a) It comprises a Federal system of Government.
(b) It incorporates the doctrine of separation of powers.
(c) It incorporates a Bill of Rights at the Commonwealth level.
(d) The High Court of Australia is the highest court of appeal for citizens of all States and Territories.
*An additional 2 marks will be allocated for presentation, including appropriate footnoting
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