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).

Un-conventional

Here’s a paper by me on the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. Not perhaps the most familiar of legal instruments, but I promise you that it is a story full of mystery and excitement. The background to the work is that the Council of Europe has (had?) a convention on broadcasting, which came out of a great deal of interest in the subject in the 1980s. (The Television Without Frontiers directive of what was then the EEC emerges from the same period). However, after the EU revised its law (the Audiovisual Media Services Directive), the Council tried to do the same.

What happened next took me a long time to unpick (unpack?) and involved a lengthy FOI process with the UK government, a (fortunately more straightforward) access to documents request to the EU, research on the EU’s external powers, and quality time with Council of Europe minutes. And then I presented it (to three different audiences), and had some wonderful colleagues volunteer to read it and give detailed comments.

This version (the ‘Accepted Version’, on SSRN) appears in the Edinburgh Law School Working Paper Series.

Death of a Convention: Competition between the Council of Europe and European Union in the Regulation of Broadcasting

If you have access via, for example, a university library, the published version is available here, in volume 5(1) of the Journal of Media Law.

This article considers a dispute between the European Union and Council of Europe regarding their respective roles in the broadcasting field, so as to explain and assess its relevance for the development at the international level of media law and policy. The dispute is a long-running one and dates back to the adoption of the first EEC Directive and Council Convention on this subject in 1989. It is argued that the expansion of the scope of EU broadcasting law and the consolidation of the European Commission’s role in external affairs left little room for the Council to continue to exercise influence over the regulation of the electronic media in the way it has done for some time. The exact nature of the dispute between the institutions, and the response of a vocal member state, is ascertained through consideration of published minutes and internal correspondence, set in the context of doctrinal and political developments. The article concludes with analysis of possible future actions for the Council.

On the map

When we were both at UEA Law School, Prof. Mathias Siems (blog | web | @siemslegal) and I started working on an article on legal research – seeing it as having affinities with practical, humanities and social science approaches.  We presented it at UEA and Mathias also presented it at a number of other fora. It continued after both of us moved on – Mathias to Durham and me to Edinburgh – and it has now been published in the Cambridge Law Journal.  Complete with charts and diagrams (including a ternary plot we are particularly attached to), and for those who like such things, our data is published in an online annex.  We considered the question from a number of angles, including review of literature (on legal education, methodology and related issues), across different jurisdictions, data (which we collected) on the faculty structures of law schools in the UK, analysis of the role of research councils and associations, and a pilot survey on self-identification of research methods.  When I’ve spoken about it (e.g. at breaks in conferences!), people seem interested, so I hope you enjoy the final result.

That result is the article, Mapping Legal Research (2012) 71 Cambridge Law Journal 651.  A slightly earlier version is available on SSRN (without charge), with the annex included in the file: get it here.  And finally, the abstract:

This article aims to map the position of academic legal research, using a distinction between “law as a practical discipline”, “law as humanities” and “law as social sciences” as a conceptual framework. Having explained this framework, we address both the “macro” and “micro” level of legal research in the UK. For this purpose, we have collected information on the position of all law schools within the structure of their respective universities. We also introduce “ternary plots” as a new way of explaining individual research preferences. Our general result is that all three categories play a role within the context of UK legal academia, though the relationship between the “macro” and the “micro” level is not always straight-forward. We also provide comparisons with the US and Germany and show that in all three countries law as an academic tradition has been constantly evolving, raising questions such as whether the UK could or should move further to a social science model already dominant in the US.