All change please, all change

Three job-related announcements.

1. The University of Edinburgh has advertised a post (Lecturer or Senior Lecturer) in “digital media law”.  As you will see from the job description, there are a number of specific research and teaching needs, although digital media is to be broadly understood. The person appointed will be a part of the SCRIPT research centre and the IP, Media and Technology subject area at the Edinburgh Law School.

2. If you know me, the job description will sound not a million miles from what I do at the moment. And my name doesn’t appear on the list of people the successful candidate would work with. So it might not come as the greatest of surprises for me to say that I am leaving Edinburgh this summer, to take up a post as a Reader in Law at Newcastle University (specifically, Newcastle Law School).

3. Newcastle itself has advertised a further group of jobs.  Three lectureships and a teaching fellowship. For the lectureships, there are particular needs at present in commercial law, land law/equity, criminal law, and maritime law.

SLS Media & Communications Section: Call for Papers 2014

Due to issues with the SLS email system, the deadline is now 4th April.

This is a call for papers for the Media & Communications section of the 2014 SLS Annual Conference to be held at the University of Nottingham from 9th – 12th September.  The overall theme of the conference this year will be ‘Judging in the 21st Century’. Calls from other subject sections are also available.

This section will meet in the first half of the conference on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th September (Section A).  If you are interested in presenting a paper, please e-mail a proposed title and short abstract to me at daithi.mac.sithigh AT ed.ac.uk by Monday 17th March 4th April. Proposals are invited on any issue relating to media and communications law, including those addressing this year’s conference theme.  Last year’s conference saw a very wide range of papers presented in this section, at well-attended sessions, and proposals are welcome from scholars at all stages of their careers.

Academic papers are invited on any area of media and communications law, including (but not limited to):

  • the regulation of broadcasting (in the UK, Ireland and/or elsewhere)
  • defamation and reputation, including the Defamation Act 2013
  • privacy / breach of confidence
  • freedom of expression and information in the context of media and communications (for example, content regulation)
  • advertising, sponsorship and promotion
  • regulatory challenges associated with new or emerging forms of distribution
  • telecommunications law and policy
  • media ownership and pluralism
  • the debate on forms of press regulation
  • competition and the media and communications industries
  • the laws, practices and codes affecting journalism (e.g. contempt of court, subterfuge, court reporting, recognition/status of journalists)
  • the control of marketing, advertising, and sponsorship
  • contract and rights issues affecting the media and communications sectors
  • universal design / access in relation to communications

As the SLS is keen to ensure that as many members with good quality papers as possible are able to present, speakers are strongly discouraged from presenting more than one paper at the conference. With this in mind, I would be grateful if you could let me know if you are also responding to calls for papers from other sections.

Please note that whilst you need only send a proposed title and abstract at this stage, speakers are encouraged to submit a full paper to the SLS paperbank before the conference.   The SLS offers a Best Paper Prize which can be awarded to academics at any stage of their career.  The Prize carries a £250 monetary award and winning papers are published in Legal Studies.  Further details about the Prize are available here. The following three conditions must be met: (1)  all authors must be fully paid-up members of the SLS; (2) the paper must have not been published previously or have been accepted or be under consideration for publication; (3) the paper must not exceed 10000 words.

All speakers will need to book and pay to attend the conference.  Booking information will be circulated in due course. If your participation in the conference is dependent on funding and/or a visa, I would be very grateful if you could let me know at an early stage.

I look forward to your proposals, but please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance, or to discuss a proposal in advance of formal submission.

Regards,

Daithí Mac Síthigh
Convenor, Media & Communications Subject Section

When Irish eyes are watching

Last year, I was invited to give a ‘response’ to two very interesting papers at a seminar of the British Association for Comparative Law. The papers, by Paula Giliker and Elspeth Christie Reid, were on the evolution of breach of confidence and privacy, primarily in relation to England and Scotland. (Eric Clive wrote up his notes from the day here).

The papers, including a developed version of my comparative comments, are now being published in Juridical Review. A slightly earlier version of my contribution is available on SSRN through the University of Edinburgh School of Law Working Paper Series (here’s the series, and while there why not also download my colleague Judith’s latest paper on big data and small government…).

My article is a short one, and the main thing I hope it does is remind some UK-based readers of the interesting things that have happened in Ireland in relation to the privacy cause of action. I do spent a good deal of space talking about Sullivan v Boylan [2013] IEHC 104, which is a particularly useful contribution to the English and Scottish debates on how to handle the evolving questions of privacy and confidence. I also talk a bit about New Zealand.

Beyond breach of confidence: an Irish eye on English and Scottish privacy law

This article is based on comparative comments (with special attention paid to Irish law) presented at a seminar on breach of confidence and privacy. It is first argued that a continuing uncertainty regarding the role of statute in relation to privacy is common to the development of doctrines in both England and Scotland, with similar anxieties present in other jurisdictions. In the absence of statutory clarity, the questions arising out of debate on the nature of the cause of action, and the consequences of variation in definitions of “privacy”, are considered – with special attention to developments in Ireland and New Zealand. The relationship between the evolution of breach of confidence and the human rights framework is also noted. Finally, the prospects for law reform and/or convergence across jurisdictions in the United Kingdom are assessed.

(Sorry if you expected this post would be about this; words fail me on that subject, I’m afraid).

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

I’m happy to announce the online release of my article ‘Principles for a second century of film legislation‘, as online “early view” in advance of later publication in print. It’s in the journal Legal Studies (website). Open access versions will appear in due course.

Following a century of legislation about film and the film industry in the UK, and the latest in a series of reports on ‘film policy’, this paper investigates the relationship between law, policy and film. Case studies on the definition of ‘film’ in a time of technological and cultural change consider the privileged position of the cinema in terms of censorship and tax, including the new phenomenon of ‘alternative content’; that is, live relays of theatrical performances. Institutional change is assessed and criticised, particularly the abolition of the UK Film Council and the steady move from statute to executive action. The paper sets out a case for the role of the state to be set out in legislation and the cultural consequences of legal definitions to be taken more seriously.

Normally I would just put up the link and a blurb. But given how this article developed, and how the publication process is something I’m asked about by students and colleagues a lot, I thought it was a good opportunity to say something more about how these things go. I’ve tried to be careful not to do anything that compromises the peer review process here, and to be honest about my experience of it.

I presented a first version of the paper at the Society of Legal Scholars (annual conference) in September 2010. I had been working on it during the summer, bringing together my interests in film history and in media regulation. It was fun to write, although much of that version didn’t end up in the article. Also, no-one came to hear me present it, other than a colleague from UEA. Oops. But the ‘second century’ idea came at that stage, provoked by the Cinematograph Act 1909 having had its birthday the previous year.

The next stage was a different paper at the MECCSA annual conference in Manchester, in January 2011. This also wasn’t a smooth road as I broke my arm a few weeks before the conference and ended up giving the paper from a handwritten text (and also navigating my way around the conference rather awkwardly). It was one of that I attended and I met some fantastic people who have kept in touch – but there was only so much I could do.

So in summer 2011 – having caught up on the various things that had been shifted around on account of the injury – I was able to return to the two source papers, merge them, and come up with a draft journal article. This was where the core arguments started to take shape. And I decided that I was going to aim to submit it to Legal Studies. This meant two things: writing for a ‘generalist’ audience, and adapting to the journal’s style guide. (The first was more difficult).

At this point I started to have people read it in full (at the end of the summer). Some of the comments were contradictory, but the crucial bit was having readers from different backgrounds – a terrific film historian who knows his way around technology (and who I went on to work with on other projects), a personal friend who is interested in both law and film and is a particularly good writer, and some colleagues in my then School – from different areas of law. And I rewrote the paper a few more times, start to finish, that autumn. And in November I took a section of it to a film studies workshop, where I talked about ‘alternative content’ or ‘livecasts’ alongside one of the giants of film studies, Martin Barker (this ended up as a key point in the article).

In November 2011, I submitted it to Legal Studies for the first time. The editors thought that the original arguments were stacked at the end of the paper and the earlier sections were quite textbook-like. A remark in the email telling me this (which was obviously a bit of a disappointment in some ways) turned out to be important in terms of restructuring. Anyway, I put this down for second semester (post-January) work.

Then in January 2012, the Government intervened by publishing the report of a new review of film policy. Oops. This, and the need to rethink the focus of the piece, meant a full rewrite, letting go of some whole sections in particular. This was painful as they had been sections that took a long time to assemble – but the new question was how each paragraph or section contributed to the overall arguments, which had crystallised as being about coherence. But as is often the way, I had already planned out what I was going to write and it took a while longer to get to something I was happy with. I framed it as a discussion of the relationship between law and policy using the film sector as an illustration. Most of this research and writing was done in April/May.

In August 2012, having finished working on it while also changing job and moving north of the border, I crossed my fingers and submitted the article to Legal Studies. On this occasion, the editors accepted it for review and sent it out to three (!) peer reviewers. Legal Studies operates a three-month review period and, as expected, I got the decision in December 2012…days before going on honeymoon. The reports were mixed. Two reviewers liked it, one giving minor comments and another giving positive comments which would mean a bit of new work. A third thought that the piece didn’t work as it was and that there was, in essence, too much going on (and various other criticisms). The editors decided to classify it as ‘revise and resubmit’.

So come January 2013, I picked it up again and tried to put some manners on it. I abandoned the law/policy point of entry and tried to find a way of justifying the focus on film in its own terms. I came up with a better way of thinking about ‘definitions’ and wrote a few new sections; as I was already at the limits of the word count, other things had to go. I wrote a whole new conclusion (I always struggle with conclusions) and I had another go at trying to explain the technological dimension (which was the most fun bit of the rewrite). At the start of March I crossed my fingers again and resubmitted. Back out it went to reviewers. Come June, the decision came, and this time it was positive, accepted without further changes required. A few rounds with a lovely copy-editor (who also explained the history of the distinction between first- and third-person writing in academic journals) and here we are.

My point in explaining all this is, in particular for those who have articles knocked back, is that it takes time. I certainly thought of abandoning it more than once. And the paper can end up as a different thing. And rewriting to address an audience is really tricky. And things happen, like broken arms and honeymoons. And the Legal Studies editors were very supportive – which made a big difference.

Anyway, between all of these steps it took me about three years to write (which is about as long as it took me to do my PhD, although obviously I have been doing other things in this period), so I hope you enjoy the result.

Postgraduate conference, Edinburgh 2013

This is a good opportunity for postgraduate students. A bright, crisp winter’s day(*) in beautiful Edinburgh, and a chance to talk about your work with fellow students in a supportive setting. Two great keynote speakers, too. But the deadline is very soon, so please tear yourself away from the long summer (*) nights and send your abstract to the organisers. Here’s the full CFP, with the submission details highlighted.

* May not reflect actual weather.

Call for Papers: Edinburgh Postgraduate Law Conference 2013

Abstracts are invited for the Edinburgh Postgraduate Law Conference, to be held December 2-3, 2013 at the University of Edinburgh, UK. The conference aims to provide a forum for postgraduate students to present and receive feedback on their work and to network with other researchers working in their area.

Conference theme

The theme of the conference is “Law, Individual, Community”. We invite papers from all areas of law and related fields, including but not limited to commercial law, constitutional law, criminal law, critical approaches to law, human rights, intellectual property law, international law, legal theory, and medical law. Possible topics of investigation include:

§ Liberalism versus communitarianism,

§ Problematizing the subject of law (the collective subject, sub-state subjects in international law etc.),

§ Rights and responsibilities, including group rights and indigenous peoples’ rights,

§ Law and the excluded,

§ Community and the welfare state,

§ The role and position of shareholders against the corporation,

§ Corporate social responsibility and corporate governance,

§ The principle of self-determination and sub-state territorial autonomy,

§ The rise of global governance,

§ Community interests and the protection of the environment,

§ Biobanking and participation in medical research,

§ Intellectual property rights and access to medicines.

Keynote speakers

The keynote speakers for this year’s conference will be Martin Loughlin, Professor of Public Law at LSE, and John Harris, Sir David Alliance Professor of Bioethics at the University of Manchester.

Training component

The conference will include three training sessions, seeking to offer participants advice on managing their PhDs, on publishing as early career researchers and on finding their niche in the academic job market.

Prizes

Prizes will be awarded for the best paper submitted and best presentation at the conference.

Abstract submissions

Abstracts of no more than 300 words and 3-5 keywords are to be submitted to EdLawPhDConference@gmail.com, together with a short biographical note (approx. 100 words) on the author. The deadline for submitting abstracts is August 15, 2013. Selected participants will be notified by early September.

More information

More information on the conference can be found on our website.