Writer’s choice

COMM3050 Media Ethics and Law


Media Freedom

a]    “In Western democratic societies, journalists often take their liberties for

granted. But there has never been utterly unshackled free speech or a

completely free media.” [Pearson] Discuss with reference to at least three

[3] contemporary Australian cases.



  1. Australia’s defamation law is far too onerous and far too chilling. Discuss the impact of defamation laws on Australian politics, with reference to three [3] Australian


  1. “On almost every occasion that members of the Australian community came forward in response to the #MeToo movement, it seemed that the complainant was immediately hit with the threat of a defamation suit [and in many cases was actually sued] … In my view the Australian public has started to become a little unsettled by cashed-up plaintiffs using

defamation proceedings to silence a debate Australia has to have …” [Peter Coggins] Discuss with reference to at least two [2] Australian cases.


  1. There’s been a steady stream of #MeToo headlines out of the US, but most of these stories could never have been told in Australia. Choose at least two [2] cases to focus your analysis. At least one [1] of those cases must be


Vilification/Hate Speech

  1. Facebook and YouTube’s challenges in addressing the issue of livestreamed hate crimes is a clear signal that existing media laws and media regulations are inadequate. Discuss.


  1. Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to engage

in acts that are reasonably likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or

intimidate” someone because of their race or ethnicity. These principles are reflected in state legislation and media industry codes. Discuss with reference to at least two [2] contemporary Australian cases.



  1. In the wake of the Pell case, lawyers around Australia have called for a review of suppression laws to determine whether they are workable in the contemporary media environment. “At its core, this issue involves striking the right balance between open justice including the public interest in court reporting, and the right of the individual to a fair trial.” [Arthur

Moses]. Discuss.

  1. “It is obviously important to protect the institutional integrity and independence of the judiciary – but the judiciary and judicial decisions should not be immune from criticism [in a democracy].” [Finlay and


Forrester] Discuss with reference to at least two [2] contemporary Australian cases.



  1. “Borrowing, quoting, and homage are fundamental to the creative This is how people are inspired to create. Under Australian law, though, most borrowing is copyright infringement, unless it is licensed.” [Suzor and Choi] Discuss with reference to at least two [2] contemporary Australian cases.


  1. Australian copyright law is antiquated and Discuss.


  1. Strong copyright laws allow Australian artists to Discuss.



  1. “Content that is produced and distributed without consent should be referred to as sexual abuse material, not as ” [Ashton and Kirkman] Discuss.


  1. “Images of sexualised children are becoming increasingly common in ” [Rush and La Nauze] Is this a case of “too much, too soon” or “just another moral panic”? Discuss.


  1. Classification policies are created to filter the content in media that can be considered as sensitive, harmful, inappropriate and even malicious. But the potential impact of censorship on the landscape of ideas leaves many people uneasy. Discuss with reference to at least two [2] contemporary Australian


Social Media

a] Social media platforms [such as Facebook/Twitter] have created numerous challenges for media laws. Select one [1] area of law [eg. hate crimes, defamation, contempt, privacy, copyright etc] and analyse three

[3] cases where social media technologies have impacted on existing legal principles, or when existing laws have been inadequate.




a] Cambridge Analytica’s theft of data from Facebook user profiles points to

serious concerns over privacy and ‘surveillance capitalism’. Discuss.



Students may also create their own questions but must have them approved by their tutor in advance. NB. The essay questions must be answered in the context of Australian media law. You may refer to international cases/law for comparative purposes but the primary focus of your essay should be the Australian context.

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