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76063 Media Law

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Law
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 70616 Australian Constitutional Law
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses.
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.
Anti-requisite(s): 77722 Media Law (PG) AND 78165 Media and Entertainment Law and Regulation AND 78166 Media and Entertainment Law and Regulation

Description

This subject explores, analyses and evaluates certain legal restrictions on free speech affecting the media. Specifically, this subject targets the law of defamation, contempt, vilification (or hate speech), censorship (including obscenity, pornography and the National Classification Scheme), selected counter-terrorism measures and privacy (introductory aspects). These laws consist of a wide range of federal and state/territory laws, civil and criminal laws, legislation and common law. The fundamental question arising in each case is whether and, if so, to what extent, the law strikes an appropriate balance between free speech on the one hand and relevant competing interest(s) on the other.

Students examine the restrictions in operation through selected case studies, in the context of broader theoretical, constitutional and policy considerations as well as from different perspectives to develop a coherent understanding of their nature, scope and application as well as evaluate their effectiveness, appropriateness and serviceability. Students also identify emerging issues and challenges of regulating the media and free speech, notably those posed by online communication, and evaluate proposals for reform. Throughout the subject, students construct and communicate coherent and reasoned views and arguments to support their analyses and evaluation of the law, its operation and recommendations for reform.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Examine, evaluate and explain key media laws, related principles and concepts and the broader theoretical, constitutional and policy contexts informing the regulation of the media and free speech.
2. Identify, analyse and apply relevant media laws and generate solutions to contemporary media law problems
3. Critically analyse and evaluate a range of perspectives and opinions relating to the issues and challenges of regulating free speech and the media.
4. Construct clear, succinct, reasoned, justifiable and persuasive legal and scholarly analyses and arguments.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes which reflect the course intended learning outcomes:

  • Legal Knowledge
    A coherent understanding of fundamental areas of legal knowledge, including the Australian legal system, social justice, cultural and international contexts and the principles and values of ethical practice (LAW.1.0)
  • Critical Analysis and Evaluation
    A capacity to think critically, strategically and creatively, including an ability to identify and articulate legal issues, apply reasoning and research, engage in critical analysis and make reasoned choices (LAW.3.0)
  • Communication and Collaboration
    Effective and appropriate communication skills, including highly effective use of the English language, an ability to inform, analyse, report and persuade using an appropriate medium and message and an ability to respond appropriately (LAW.5.0)

Teaching and learning strategies

Strategy 1: Student preparation and blended learning

Students engage in independent study to develop, deepen and consolidate knowledge and understanding of relevant issues. Students are expected to read and engage with media and other sources to enable active participation and learning in seminars and lectures. To assist preparation, students can ask questions on UTSOnline and receive guidance from their peers and/or the teacher. The blending of offline and online preparation and learning will enhance student participation in the class discussions and promote further learning. Students are provided with a Learning Guide which contains:

  • Preparation Activities, to be completed during the Orientation and Preparation Weeks;
  • Seminar Papers, indicating what to read/view/listen to (including links to materials available in the Library’s DRR and information for locating other materials), discussion questions, suggested further readings;
  • Detailed information about Seminar Participation Activities, such as class debates, facilitating seminars as well as giving a 100-second alert;
  • Assessment Self-Evaluation and Feedback Sheets;
  • A comprehensive Materials List for each topic.

The Learning Guide is in the Subject Documents folder on UTSOnline.

Strategy 2: Participation in lectures and seminars

Lectures introduce topics and assist students to navigate the complexities of media law and policy. Students participate in lectures by seeking clarification on complex concepts and by discussing selected contemporary issues which places the law in context.

Seminars provide a key learning experience in this subject. Students participate in seminars by contributing to class discussions to facilitate in-depth critical analysis and evaluation of selected issues, testing of ideas and arguments, keeping up-to-date with media law developments as well as developing oral communication and collaborative skills. Each seminar consists of two components. The first is a brief discussion of ‘what’s happening in the media’, prompted by students giving ‘100-second alerts’ of recent developments in media law. The second, and major, component is discussion of a set topic students have prepared beforehand. As for how this discussion will be run, be prepared for variety, including small group discussions, whole class discussions and class debates. It needs to be emphasised that the seminars are discussion-focused, requiring full student participation and collaboration, and will not be run as passive lectures. Consequently, the more you put into them by way of informed participation and collaboration, the more you will get out of them in terms of learning. In order to facilitate discussion and maximise participation and collaboration in seminars, the class will be divided into two groups for most seminars, and each group will be allocated specific materials and questions to prepare relating to the seminar topic. You will be allocated to groups for this purpose in Week 1.

Strategy 3: Interactive workshops

Two Assignment Readiness Workshops (each of 30 mins duration) will be held during the session which engage students in a range of readiness activities specifically designed to promote successful completion of the assignments. The first will be held in Week 3 in which students will explore the graduate attributes targeted, analyse relevant legal writing genres and refresh/develop legal referencing skills.The second will be held in Week 7 and will involve students reflecting on feedback received for Assignment 1 and developing strategies to improve for Assignment 2. Students will also be expected to prepare a work plan for assignment completion for both workshops.

Strategy 4: Feedback

Feedback is integral to enhancing learning because it not only indicates ‘what’ needs improving but ‘how’ improvement may be achieved. In addition, feedback can come in different forms from different sources. It is not limited to the mark you receive for an assessment task.

There are many opportunities for students to receive valuable feedback regarding the above learning strategies. Every time you participate in class discussions, you can receive feedback regarding your knowledge and understanding of the materials and issues from your peers and/or the teacher. This means that you can start receiving feedback in the first class and continue to do so on a weekly basis throughout the session. By asking a question on UTSOnline, you can also receive timely feedback from your peers and/or the teacher throughout the session. Students can also gain early feedback on their skills of referencing in accordance with the Faculty’s style (AGLC4) by completing the Legal Referencing Quiz on UTSOnline by the end of Week 2. Further feedback and assistance to improve these important skills will be provided at the first Assignment Readiness Workshop in Week 3. In Week 5, students can request feedback regarding their seminar participation to date by completing and submitting an Interim Seminar Participation Self-Evaluation Sheet (in the form included in the Learning Guide). Please note that the interim grade you receive is not necessarily determinative of the final grade. It is only an indication of student participation up to that date. This means that it is possible for students to improve this grade before the end of the session by applying the feedback given at the interim stage. Equally, it is also possible for this grade to go down if the quality and/or frequency of your seminar participation deteriorates during the remainder of the session.

When students receive feedback, they are strongly encouraged to take the time to reflect on and apply it so as to enhance their learning. If you are in doubt about the import of feedback and/or how to apply it then you should seek clarification from the source and/or the teacher.

Content (topics)

  1. Freedom of Speech
  2. Contempt
  3. Hate Speech or Vilification
  4. Defamation
  5. Censorship (including Obscenity and Pornography and the National Classification Scheme)
  6. Selected Counter-Terrorism Measures
  7. Privacy (introductory aspects)

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Seminar Participation

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3 and 4

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.1.0, LAW.3.0 and LAW.5.0

Weight: 20%
Length:

1,000 words (notional)

Criteria:
  • Identification, analysis, explanation and evaluation of relevant law/theory/policy;
  • Critical analysis and evaluation of relevant issues and materials;
  • Willingness to contribute to seminar discussions in an informed way;
  • Clear oral communication skills, including the ability to succinctly and persuasively convey reasoned and justifiable legal and scholarly analyses and arguments;
  • Cooperative group discussion skills, including listening and respecting the views of others; respectfully allowing other students to contribute and participate in the discussion, leading and facilitating discussion;
  • Regular attendance.

Assessment task 2: Initial Media Analysis

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3 and 4

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.1.0, LAW.3.0 and LAW.5.0

Weight: 40%
Length:

2,000 words (excluding the footnotes and the bibliography). A deviation of 10% is permissible.

Criteria:
  • Development of a sustained and well-structured thesis or argument addressing the question asked;
  • Identification, analysis, explanation and evaluation of relevant law/theory/policy;
  • Critical analysis and evaluation of relevant issues, including their identification and application of relevant law/theory/policy;
  • Critical analysis and evaluation of different perspectives/opinions as relevant;
  • Engagement with relevant sources;
  • Clear written communication skills, including the ability to succinctly and persuasively convey reasoned and justifiable legal and scholarly analyses and arguments;
  • Referencing in accordance with the Faculty’s style (AGLC4).

Assessment task 3: Advanced Media Analysis

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3 and 4

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.1.0, LAW.3.0 and LAW.5.0

Weight: 40%
Length:

2,000 words (excluding the footnotes and the bibliography). A deviation of 10% is permissible.

Criteria:
  • Development of a sustained and well-structured thesis or argument addressing the question asked;
  • Identification, analysis, explanation and evaluation of relevant law/theory/policy;
  • Critical analysis and evaluation of relevant issues, including their identification and application of relevant law/theory/policy;
  • Critical analysis and evaluation of different perspectives/opinions as relevant;
  • Engagement with relevant sources;
  • Response to feedback for Initial Medial Law Analysis;
  • Clear written communication skills, including the ability to succinctly and persuasively convey reasoned and justifiable legal and scholarly analyses and arguments;
  • Referencing in accordance with the Faculty’s style (AGLC4).

Required texts

  • Des Butler and Sharon Rodrick, Australian Media Law (Thomson Reuters, 5th ed, 2015) [Butler & Rodrick].
  • Australian Guide to Legal Citation (Melbourne University Law Review Association, 4th ed, 2018) [AGLC4] – you can purchase a copy, or view it online via the UTS Library's catelogue.

Required materials:

  • 76063 Media Law Learning Guide (latest version). This will be in the Subject Documents folder on UTSOnline. Students are expected to access the ‘what to read/view/listen to’ materials indicated for seminars and lectures in the Learning Guide.
  • Defamation Act 2005 (NSW).

Recommended texts

  • David Rolph, Matt Vitins, Judith Bannister and Daniel Joyce, Media Law: Cases, Materials and Commentary (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2015) [Rolph, Vitins, Bannister & Joyce].

References

  • UTS:LAW Student Guidebook (latest edition)
  • UTS:LAW Guide to Written Communication (latest edition).
  • UTS Assessment of Coursework Subjects Policy and Procedures, available at <www.gsu.uts.edu.au/>

Other resources

Journals

  • Communications Law Bulletin
  • Gazette of Law and Journalism
  • Media and Arts Law Review

Useful Websites

  • Australian Classification <www.classification.gov.au/Home.aspx>
  • Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department <www.ag.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx>
  • Federal Register of Legislation <www.legislation.gov.au>
  • NSW Legislation <www.legislation.nsw.gov.au>
  • Reporters Without Borders <https://rsf.org/en>

Interesting Radio and Television Broadcasts

  • ABC Radio National's Law Report, broadcast on Tuesdays at 5.30pm, repeated on Wednesdays at 5.30am and Thursdays at 11am, transcript and audio available at <www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lawreport/>
  • ABC Media Watch, broadcast on ABC TV on Mondays at 9.15pm and available on iView, transcript and broadcast available at <www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/>