Media Laws Are Weird

Laws exist to protect the privacy and reputation of individuals and companies from the negative effects of the media machine.

In practice, some of these laws include some disturbing grey area.

For example, in a public place it is completely legal to photograph or video any person, with or without their permission, as long as you aren’t using the images or video for commercial use.

(Note: Public spaces do not include privately owned land such as shopping centres.)

You are also allowed to photograph or film privately owned places, as long as you are on public land while you do so – even if you’re operating a drone.

As is often the case, what’s legal and what’s ethical varies greatly in many aspects of media operations.

Imagine you’re lying on the beach, minding your own business and soaking up some sun, when out of a bush pops Kyle Sandilands. Imagine that he then pulls out a camera with a zoom lens and starts taking close up shots of your crotch. There is absolutely nothing you could do about this unless he decided to publish any of the shots.

However, if you went home and posted an angry message like this to twitter, Kyle would have grounds to sue you for defamation.

Oops.

Because twitter is a public forum, those eight words are technically considered ‘published’. If Kyle can prove that my tweet has caused, or is currently causing him repetitional damage, I am liable for the cost of those damages.

That is, unless I can prove that my statement is true.

(Which in this case – who knows?)

The moral of the story is to be mindful of what you say online, especially about other people. If you’re going to say something that someone else isn’t going to like, make sure you verify your facts first.

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