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Monday, 2 November 2009

Media Law and Practice

Media Law and Practice, edited by David Goldberg, Gavin Sutter, and Ian Walden, was published just a week or so ago, and I've just had a chance to make it look a little less new by riffling the pages a few times and sampling the contents. The editors are not merely editors: they have written a good proportion of the text themselves, supplementing their own efforts with those of a team of colleagues, suitably qualified by their experience, their status and/or their scholarship to complete the spread of topics under discussion.

To some, the notion of a work of this nature being written by a "team" may conjure up the image of a benign group of lawyers discussing each point among themselves and patiently recording the fruits of their consensus. To others it may convey the vivid image of a pack of huskies trotting obediently to the crack of the editorial whip. In modern publishing, particularly with editors and contributors scattered across a large geographical swathe, most teams have little chance to meet one another other than through the electronic media which are the subject matter of much of this book, or through the cherished but decreasingly-practised ritual of the launch party.

The team includes John Enser, an author of this weblog and this reviewer's comrade-in-arms at Olswang LLP (where he is a Partner in the Media, Communications and Technology Group and Head of Music). John's chapter, 'Commercial Communications', makes gripping reading for anyone puzzled by current attitudes towards product placement or TV without frontiers (O for Frontiers without TV!). Other members of the team include Irini Katsirea (Lecturer in Law, University of Middlesex), whose chapter on 'Cultural Diversity in Broadcasting' introduced me to a new vocabulary and set of legal concepts that simply did not feature during my formative years as a lawyer. More familiar territory was covered by Rosalind McInnes (Principal Solicitor, BBC Scotland) in her chapter 'Contempt of Court': the law, at least, seemed familiar, though it seems that the judiciary are more prudent/squeamish about putting the boot in than they used to be.

According to the OUP web-blurb, this tome offers the following delightful prospects:
"* Wide-ranging coverage of the law regulating both traditional and new media, including newsgathering and broadcasting in those formats;
* ... giving in-depth analysis of how the various forms of intellectual property law interact with media law;
* Written by a team of academics and practitioners, combining rigorous academic discussion with analysis of genuine practice issues.
This book is a reference guide for practitioners to the major legal and regulatory issues in the field, but could also be used as a media law textbook for a course of academic study. Each chapter is written by an expert in the field. Throughout the book, the authors cover the relevant aspects of law governing the media in its many forms, with an emphasis on the practical operation of the law in this sector. It not only discusses the theoretical basis of legal concepts such as defamation, but also analyses the application of the law in the high paced environment of daily newspapers, the changing reality of what constitutes "broadcasting", including the regulation of distribution channels, and the regulation of material distributed via those channels, and examines the implications for defamation law of the online, borderless world. Amongst other things, the book also covers intellectual property issues in the media, with a specific emphasis on copyright works, trade marks and the exploitation of intellectual property via licensing. The work primarily discusses the identified themes in the context of UK and EU laws.
Readership: Practitioners (barristers and solicitors working in media law); in-house lawyers for international, national and local media organizations; judges, especially (but not restricted to) those who may be asked to determine matters involving the media; academics who research or teach media law; post-graduate/advanced students whose study involves issues relating to the media and undergraduate law and media students whose degree includes a course on media law".
This seems, in keeping with OUP's policy of being reasonably honest about its titles, to be a fair description of the book which, this reviewer believes, will provide valuable information about law, practice and, above all, contemporary attitudes for the short period between now and the publication of the second edition -- which you can hasten by making sure to buy the first!

Bibliographic details
. 634 pages, ISBN 978-0-19-955936-7, Paperback. Published by Oxford University Press, October 2009. Price: £75. Web page here.

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