Leveson’s liberal friends bring shame upon the left | Nick Cohen | The Observer

This is necessary reading:

Leveson’s liberal friends bring shame upon the left | Nick Cohen | Comment is free | The Observer.

There is nothing wrong with an arbitration service to settle disputes about contentious speech. But a compulsory arbitration service is an oxymoron. It is state licensing of publishing. Leveson wants that but never dared say so because every autocratic regime since the invention of movable type has wanted it too. Instead, Leveson said that publishers that do not register with his quango would face exemplary damages in the courts if they lost. The Labour party wants to say that even if a publisher is successful in court it will have to pay “all the costs of proceedings”. Even if you win, you lose.

Think of that and then think of the web revolution. I hope you can remember it, because it seems to have passed the learned Lord Justice Leveson by. To take an example from the last decade, Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial Guinea, sued Global Witness for running an investigative piece on its website into his family’s lavish corruption. Could it face exemplary damages now? Leftwing blogs such as Left Foot Forward or their rightwing counterparts such as Conservative Home are as much news producers as the Observer – will they face them?

The Leveson proposals must be chucked, now.

Think Trafigura. Think Giggs. Think Twitter.

Think blog.

Oh yes indeed, think blog:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125114805/RC-Draft-Royal-Charter-12-February-2013 – page 18:

SCHEDULE 4
INTERPRETATION
Key definitions
1. For the purposes of this Charter:
a) “Regulator” means an independent body formed by or on behalf of relevant publishers for the purpose of conducting regulatory activities in relation to their publications;
b) “relevant publisher” means a person (other than a broadcaster) who publishes in the United Kingdom:
a. a newspaper or magazine containing news-related material, or
b. a website containing news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine)

Sign up for regulation or be face court-cost oblivion.

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