I suppose if I spent ages thinking about it, I could find a spurious thread linking three stories that caught my eye over the last few days, but in truth there is none, except that they update matters which I have already discussed on this blog. (Oh, all right then, they’re all about different aspects of freedom of expression: the first shows that copyright should not prevent academic discussion; the second shows that hecklers should not have a veto; and the third is about broadcasting regulation).
First, I had noted the proclivity of the estate of James Joyce to be vigorous in defence of its copyrights; but it lost a recent case and now has agreed to pay quite substantial costs as a consequence:
The James Joyce Estate has agreed to pay $240,000 (€164,000) in legal costs incurred by an American academic following a long-running copyright dispute between the two sides. The settlement brings to an end a legal saga that pre-dates the publication in 2003 of a controversial biography of Joyce’s daughter, Lucia, written by Stanford University academic Carol Shloss. …
Second, I have long been of the view that hecklers should not be allowed to veto unpopular views, and none come more unpopular that holocaust-denier David Irving. Now comes news that NUI Galway’s Lit & Deb society have withdrawn their controversial invitation to Irving for security reasons:
The proposed visit of the controversial historian David Irving to the NUI, Galway Literary & Debating Society has been cancelled. In a statement the Lit & Deb said the cancellation was “due to security concerns and restrictions imposed by the university authorities”. …
More: GalwayNews.ie. I think that it is particularly sad that a university could not protect freedom of expression, though my colleagues keep telling me that things are just not that simple. Writing a few months ago, Ferdinand von Prondzynski (prolific and always interesting blogger, Irish Times columnist, and oh not incidentally President of DCU) summed up a university’s dilemma in such circumstances:
Universities have a particular obligation to ensure the availability and dissemination of information and views. And yet they are also guardians of values such as tolerance and respect for minority rights, some of which are resisted by those seeking to exercise their freedom of speech.
However, I was heartened to read that he would always err on the side of free speech in such circumstances: “if we have any confidence at all in the maturity and durability of our democracy we should allow freedom of speech without restriction”. Of course, if that’s not a hostage to fortune (or at least an invitation to a student society in DCU to invite Irving) I don’t know what is.
Third, the Minister for Communications has indeed announced his appointments to the newly established Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (no website yet, an extraordinary omission for a broadcasting body, it seems to me):
Communications Minister Eamon Ryan today announced the establishment of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). The BAI, formed under the Broadcasting Act 2009, will oversee the broadcasting industry in Ireland. … The Authority will comprise 9 members. 5 announced today have been appointed by Government on the nomination of the Minister and a further 4 will be appointed following the nomination of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. …
More: BBC | IFTN | Irish Times | RTÉ. The 5 Government appointees to the Authority are: Bob Collins (who is already proving a controversial choice as Chairperson of the BAI), Paula Downey, Michelle McShortall, Dr. Maria Moloney, and John Waters. Now, to complete the process we await the decision of the Oireachtas Committee. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long.