4 Calling Birds

By | 6 December 2012
picture by USFWS

picture by USFWS

A major variation in the Christmas song can be found on the 4th day with the original being  thought of as 4 Colly Birds but it transforming to Calling Birds in many versions.   For very selfish reasons (because it was easier to write!) we have stuck with 4 calling birds.

Twitter – a very modern bird calling (or tweeting) in 4 different situations

TTwitterhe expansion of social media tools such as Twitter have led to a spate of decisions about the publication of information via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and others.  This has brought to light a number of conflicting legal issues from human rights to libel.  An overview of some of these issues can be found in Rowbottom J,  ‘To rant, vent and converse: protecting low level digital speech’ [2012] CLJ 395,  full text can be found on Westlaw along with other articles on the subject (see below).

Lets looks at 4 such cases.

If Twitter-Logo-300x293you are sitting in an airport frustrated with delays and lack of information then it would be wise to think before tweeting, especially if it is to declare that you are going to blow up the terminal.  The final outcome was positive for Paul Chambers as his conviction was quashed in the High Court in July 2012, (Chambers v DPP [2012] EWHC 2157 (Admin), [2013] 1 Cr. App. R. 1).  However the initial charge and conviction for sending a “menacing electronic communication” under the Communications Act 2003 gave all Twitter users pause for thought.  The High Court judgment clearly outlined that context was important but as Twitter is available for all to see (not just followers) it would be wise to be cautious!

Twitter-Logo-300x293Thinking  about setting up a ‘joke’ riot?  Not just on Twitter this time but on Facebook  as well and the outcome was different to the Paul Chambers case.   The case of R v Blackshaw [2011] EWCA Crim 2312  looked at the sentencing of those involved in setting up Facebook ‘rioting’ events during the London Riots.   Blackshaw himself pleaded guilty to committing an offence contrary to s.46 of the Serious Crime act 2007 and was sentenced to 4 years.  This was despite the fact that ‘his’ riot did not occur.

To Retweet or not toTwitter-Logo-300x293 retweet?  Many people have been caught out in not realising that even if you retweeting something that someone else has said it can still be libelous (see Chapter 6, s.4 of Gatley on Libel and Slander – Republication and Repetition, available in hard copy and on Westlaw UK).   We have seen one of the more high profile incidences recently, luckily for most the victim arranged a low cost way to avoid action.  However at the time of writing many are still fighting their corner and it will be interesting to see what the outcome is should it go through the courts or if criminal charges are brought under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

Twitter-Logo-300x293When Ched Evans was convicted of rape more than one person took to Twitter to comment.  Unfortunately for them they included the name of the complainant.  Under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 ss.1-2 the complainants in rape cases are allowed anonymity.   Nine have pleaded guilty with one pleading not guilty and that case is still ongoing.

Finding out more ……

Journal indexes

All the above cases saw possible action being brought under a number of different pieces of legislation and under common law.  A good way of finding  discussion on areas that have overlapping and sometimes conflicting legal issues is to search for articles.  The best way to do this is to use one of the many journal indexes available, below is a selection of indexes available. 

Legal Journals Index (available via Westlaw UK, subscription) – this is an index of all legal articles published in the UK from 1986 onwards.  To search just choose the ‘Journals’ tab and then the index can be searched using full text, keyword or by author.  The advanced search allows you to search for articles on a particular case or piece of legislation or to limit it by date.  You can access Westlaw from our list of Legal Databases.

Index to Legal Periodicals (subscription) – this is an index of legal articles published in US, UK, Canada, Australia and selected other countries.  If you are an OU member you can access this through SOLO or Oxlip+.

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (subscription) – this is an index of legal articles published in non-English speaking countries.  If you are an OU member you can access this through SOLO or Oxlip+.

Social Science Citation Index (subscription) – This is an index of social science articles.  Although not the best index for law it is very good at subjects such as human rights.  If you are an OU member you can access this through SOLO or Oxlip+.

Google Scholar (free) – this is an index that covers all topics (not just law).  You can access it by either going to http://scholar.google.co.uk or Googling ‘scholar’.

Guidance on how to use these indexes and more information about legal journals can be found on our Libguide or ask us for a training session.

Join us tomorrow for Five Gold Rings!  If you have missed any of our 12 (legal) Days of Christmas then find links from our introduction or have a scroll through our blog.



2 thoughts on “4 Calling Birds

  1. Pingback: 12 Lords a Leaping « Law Bod Blog

  2. Pingback: 12 (Legal) Days of Christmas « Law Bod Blog

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