Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The internet beats the UK courts

I haven't been following the UK's "celebrity threesome" case a lot, because I don't give a shit about celebrity gossip. However, I do give a shit about freedom of speech, so I'm glad to see the rich prick's injunction preventing publication of their names overturned by the Court of Appeal:

An injunction banning the media in England and Wales from identifying a celebrity involved in an extramarital relationship should be lifted because of leaks overseas and online, the court of appeal has ruled. However, a three-judge panel, headed by Lord Justice Jackson, extended the ban on publication for two more days to allow the celebrity, known only as PJS, to mount a challenge in the supreme court.


Giving the court’s reasons, Lord Justice Simon said: “The court should not make orders which are ineffective.” In what is likely to prove a key legal opinion, he said it was “inappropriate – some may use a stronger term – for the court to ban people from saying that which is common knowledge”.

I'd call it "nonsensical", myself. And its good to see the UK courts finally recognise this.

The lesson for the media is obvious: if an injunction looks likely, share information with foreign partners to pre-empt and circumvent the courts' jurisdiction (some sort of non-revocable digital dropbox timed to release to selected partners seems appropriate). A sort of automated Streisand Alliance, if you will. But hopefully this will also represent a change in legal thinking, where the likelihood of widespread publication will itself reduce the courts enthusiasm for (ineffective) suppression.