Beating the Australian Censors: Publishers Fight Back Against Big Brother

Written by:
C Costigan
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Australia media, new media, gaming media and political media continues to have fun and games with the Aussie Government and election coverage.  Online and offline censorship, and Australia's telecommunications sector including broadband, publishing and freedom of the press are enjoying solid coverage. Australian media companies and mums and days keep asking themselves should they trust the Labor government with their vote, including internet and media rights, when they keep internet censorship and the web censorship filter squarely on their agenda.  Media Man and Gambling911 continue to make the world aware of Australia's Big Brother censorship directive under the Labor government in their caffeine free report. Can't access it... read up on proxy or whatever...

Australian publishers, both traditional and new media, will be extremely tempted to move their businesses and assets to the United States in the wake of a new law shielding US journos and publishers from defamation from outside the country, a Sydney legal eagle says.

The rather outspoken eagle, Barrister Tim Robertson, SC, who represented US newswire Dow Jones when it was sued by Australian mining tycoon Joseph Gutnick (no, not Twiggy), said the law, signed by President Barack Obama, would be seen as "a line in the sand".

"The law simply reflects the constitutional position in the United States where there is freedom of speech, and there isn't in most other countries," Robertson told wires.

"The US courts, as a matter of public policy, have always refused to enforce defamation verdicts from countries which don't respect free speech rights, and that would include Australia."

He advised the law, which prevents US federal courts from recognising or enforcing a foreign judgment for defamation that is inconsistent with the first amendment of the American Constitution, has serious long-term implications for Australia!

"Unless Australia cleans up its act it will find publishers, such as Australian-based Crikey, relocating to the US, so that their website is published in the US and their assets are in the US," Robertson said.

Media Man, Global Gaming Directory and Casino News Media are already following this tact, and will continue to run more business out of the U.S, Canada, and Europe.

"This will be the incentive for publishers to move there because people won't be able to enforce verdicts against them. Australian "thought police"... are your reading this?

"It's the line in the sand for protection of web publishers.

"It means many web publishers who publish controversial material critical of politicians and business people are going to gravitate to the United States."

Robertson said that the long-running Gutnick case never went to trial and was settled out of court in 2004.

Gutnick had sued Dow Jones because of an article it ran with in Barron's magazine website falsely accusing him of associating with a man who had been jailed for tax evasion and money laundering.

Robertson said 99.9% of Barron's readers were in the US yet Mr Gutnick chose to sue in Victoria.

"This law is a reaction to the long-arm jurisdiction of Australia and British courts in defamation cases - the imperialistic jurisdiction asserted by Australian and UK courts over what is essentially US subject matter," he said.

Supporters of the new law said that so-called "libel tourists" were undermining free speech rights in the first amendment.

A Media Man spokesperson said "With the way the legal system is in Australia, including the freedom of the press situation and complex publishing laws, coupled by red tape and expensive web hosting, little wonder a number of Australian media companies and publishers, including us, are looking to more offshore, be it totally, or 90%. The Labor government is continuing to make it expensive to operate and be based out of Australia. The Australian online and offline censorship is also a real worry.  We spoke at the Anti internet filter conference on this and make no mistake, Labor policy is costing black and white Australia jobs. We had to spend extra on legal, such is the media and internet landscape... that's money I had personally earmarked to employ people, including part of the GenerationOne initiative, headed up by Andrew Twiggy Forrest and supported by other Bondi local James Packer (gaming and media tycoon). The Liberal party seems to have better ideas than Labor on employment, technology, indigenous and business. Many Liberal party representatives have ran business's, so they know of the challenges from first hand experience. It seems too many Labor reps have been stuck behind desks and pushing pens for far too long. So, Media Man and others will send more business overseas, especially to the U.S, Canada, and Europe, and that will send a clear message to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Labor party. We want to support the Aussie battler also, but Australian red tape is starting to turn some medium and big business folks into Aussie battlers, sending us backwards, so its time for us to take action into own own hands.  If we wait any longer for Labor to make things right it could further damage our business, so we're not going to give Team Gillard that opportunity. Labor, your time is up.  If Liberal win government we will move more of our business operations back to Australia as a sign of support. As leader of the opposition Tony Abbott says, Stand Up Australia... and we are. Liberal's Malcolm Turnbull, former founder of OzEmail, also understands the essence of where we are coming from. Here's to the global economy and freedom of the press".

Punters, er readers, stay glued to Media Man reports via Gambling911 for more "can't miss" information on the Australian media, gaming, casino and political wars.

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Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, what's your view on censorship, internet censorship and freedom of the press?  Could you live without online poker?  Do you enjoy adult content (that is legal)? Who are your betting on, and why? Make your voice heard. Tell us in the forum.  The big wigs of Australian politics and business read and hang on every word at your beloved Gambling911. From Australia's answer to 'Casino Jack' to 'Outback Jack', they're all here folks. Keep checking daily for updates. Yes Minister, and have another cup of Full Strength Coffee (no caffeine or web filter thanks).

The Late News...

A bush tucker bag of Australian publishers are going online only and are tipped to go for offshore web hosting which is almost already cheaper and of course, the U.S laws are more in favor of traditional media and internet media than Australian laws.  Yet another example of the Australian Labor Party costing more jobs for white and black Australia. Media Man continues to collaborate with community groups, GenerationOne and others to help combat Australia's rising unemployment problems. Reporters Without Boarders, Virgin Unite, the U.N and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation will be kept abreast of developments.

If your going to have a bet, please bet your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

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