Notes Lesson 2

In this lesson, Jon went over law school…in a day!

How is law made?

Through statutes (provincial and federal) –> government-made

eg. Consumer Protect Act (provincial) and Broadcasting Act (federal)

Through the common law –> judge made

eg. R. v. Morgentaler

Do statues supersede judge-made law or does it work the other way around?

TRICK QUESTION! It’s a dialectic where legislation changes what judges do (for example, mandatory minimum sentences), but THEN judges get to interpret the next statute…

What kinds of laws are there?

Criminal –> Queen v. Person, eg. R. v. Oakes 

Civil –> Person v. Person, (or company) eg. Starson v. Swayze 

Administrative law –> decision-making authority delegated to tribunal, eg. Lipp v. Maverick’s Sports Lounge (BC Human Rights Tribunal decision)

Constitutional law –> Who gets to make the law and the limits of their power, eg. Constitution Act of 1867 (see section 91 and 92 for breakdown of federal and provincial powers) and Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Enforcement of law comes through judges and juries. Juries are finders of fact and judges are finders of law and fact (when there is no jury). It is because of the jury that media contempt of court exists and is so important.  In Canada, the right to a fair trial supersedes the right to free speech.  (Our freedoms are not absolute – they are as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society – read R. v. Oakes above for more on this).

There is a federal court system and a provincial court system.

What legal subjects should we are about?  Why?

Constitutional Law: Charter, division of powers

Contracts: “law of the marketplace,” good examples of judge-made law

Criminal law and procedure: contempt of court, defences, mens rea, actus reus, standard: BARD (beyond a reasonable doubt), sentencing

Property Law: trespass, intellectual property (it’s a related concept)

Torts: Civil wrongs, again – lots of judge-made law, negligence, nuisance, defamation, privacy, think of it as injury to another person

Transnational Law: conflict of laws, what law applies where and how (important as a foreign correspondent)

Administrative Law: decision-making delegated to quasi-judicial authority, regulatory bodies like the CRTC

Business Organizations: why are companies people? 

Intellectual Property: copyright, moral rights, fair dealing, fair use

Jurisprudence: legal philosophy, the rule of law

Ethics and Professionalism: the culture around law

If you want some more information, this is an excellent (and free) document about our legal system and structure in Canada.


TMZ Sports: In praise of the site’s coverage of Ray Rice, Donald Sterling, and Jameis Winston.

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The story can be found through this link: TMZ Sports: In praise of the site’s coverage of Ray Rice, Donald Sterling, and Jameis Winston.

Have one question to add to this: Should courts care when they are making judgments about defamation or privacy that the information was paid for?



As tech firms take on the role of newsrooms, will they care about legal fights for public interest? — Tech News and Analysis

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Click on the story: As tech firms take on the role of newsrooms, will they care about legal fights for public interest? — Tech News and Analysis.

Hard to imagine an article more on point that goes to the core of our medias law course. Do tech companies understand journalism and will they fight the legal battles that journalists have traditionally had to? From my perspective would say there are some positive signs that tech firms understand privacy and fair use (copyright) quite well.  What about investing in investigative journalism? What about protecting sources and fight for access to documents? There are clearly more questions then answers in the brave new digital world. Thoughts?


TV monitoring service is fair use, judge rules | Ars Technica

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TV monitoring service is fair use, judge rules | Ars Technica.

This is a very important story to note for when we talk about copyright two classes from now. How do you feel about this? Should news monitoring services be able to make money from new organizations materials? What are the implications for newsrooms using each others materials?


The Perils of Photojournalism | Roads & Kingdoms| An exercise in legal identity

As you read the following, try and invert the process. Recognizing the dangers – ask yourself  the following “What rights should journalists have?”

The Perils of Photojournalism | Roads & Kingdoms.

At this stage don’t overthink or try and figure what privileges the law does or does not give you. Just go through three steps:

1. What is a “journalist” in your mind?

2. What legal rights and privileges does a journalist need to be a journalist?

3. How should those legal rights and privileges be different from those of the ordinary citizen?

Now make a list of the unique rights journalists should have.





Why we’re living in the golden age of investigative journalism –

Following on both your introductions to yourselves and our discussion in class about how the memes of journalism’s technology and practice will define how law and justice evolve, consider this article in Salon: Why we’re living in the golden age of investigative journalism –

Consider that everyone of the stories outlined would have highly complex legal considerations. If we are indeed living in the golden age of investigative journalism, todays talk suggests that a golden age of legal redefinition will occur to accommodate (just not quickly enough).



Class 1 Slides; Why can’t Law keep up with Journalism?

Here are the slides from today’s class. Look forward to your further thoughts and questions.


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Welcome to Media Law

Welcome to media law!  We’re excited to have the site up and running, as a complement to Journalism 534.

Please check back often, as we’ll be posting relevant news stories – and hoping you do the same.  We’ll also be updating the “live” syllabus, providing slides from classes as well as review notes, giving you information about guest speakers, and most importantly interacting with one another.

For now enjoy your introduction to the legal system and its relationship to journalism…and beyond!

Marlisse & jon