October 29th, 2013

Fidesz plans law to make media libel punishable with jail time

Fidesz is initiating an amendment to the criminal code in response to the Baja video case, Fidesz caucus leader Antal Rogán told fellow MPs in Parliament on Monday.

Rogán said a change in law is needed because the case of falsifying a piece of evidence has undermined the functioning of democratic institutions.

Fidesz wants to ensure that those who produce libellous fake photographs or video recordings should be sent to prison for between one and three years, he added.

He who does not support such an unequivocal bill, is up to something, he asserted.

Parliament is expected to debate the amendment motion in November and it could enter into force in December.

The Socialists said amending the criminal code merely serves Fidesz’s communication goals and to divert public attention, adding that they will scrutinise the amendment.

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  • Guru
    • Reality Check

      “A major limiting factor to this concrete First Amendment exception are statements made against public figures. In New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), the Court strongly suggested that even “deliberate lies” could not be punished if made against the government. Since that decision, many cases that have dealt with this rule have struggled to define the line of who actually is a ‘public figure’. The Supreme Court has also extended this doctrine to non-political figures who are simply famous or well known in the media.”

      Baja case would not be prosecuted in US.

      • Guru

        “…if made against the government….”

        It’s not the government of Hungary complaining about the tape; it’s FIDESZ, a political party, which currently happens to hold a supermajority in Parliament.

        • MagyarViking

          The only one who can complain is the Fidesz Mayor in Baja, then he is the one accused for organising this election fraud (in that video)
          A Mayor is by all definitions a Public Figure, so you are still claiming that this case would be brought to the US Courts, especially if the original intent was to make ‘an instructional video’?

          • Guru

            An instructional video? Is that the excuse they came up with now? There’s obviously actual malice involved, which wouldn’t fly in the US, even for public figures.
            1) A statement was made
            2) It was published
            3) It caused injury
            4) It was false
            5) it was an unprivileged statement (which protects court witnesses etc)
            6) There was ‘actual malice’ involved.

            This would constitute a libel case in the US.

          • Vidra

            Not sure it would. It was a hoax and (as Leto pointed out on here soon after the story broke), a pretty transparent one too. If anyone suffered injury as a result of this, it’s HVG’s reputation for critical, thorough and fair reporting and analysis and I can’t imagine Fidesz are crying about that.

          • Guru

            Well that’s why ‘actual malice’, or the lack of is determined by the courts. The other five factors are rock solid, however. This case would make it to the US court system.

          • Vidra

            It probably would make it to court in the USA, but as a private suit, and you’d almost certainly find a lawyer who would work on a no win, no fee basis for the plaintiff. Whether the jury would side with you or with the American brand of free speech is another matter.

          • Guru

            For this type of lawsuit, trial by jury isn’t mandatory; you can opt into just a judge hearing it will have better knowledge on the matter.

          • John

            You are so uninformed that it hurts.

          • Leto مؤدّب

            The fact it was a transparent hoax is inconsequential. The fact that MSZP commissioned the video and they screamed at the top of their lungs that “it’s proof that Fidesz cheated” is consequential (in the sense of the antonym)

          • John

            No it would not, you are again wrong. Perhaps in the UK. Get informed or buzz off.

        • Reality Check

          It is more broadly defined as a subset of “public figures” that include politicians, etc. So, no a “Fidesz” could not make a claim in the US.

          • Guru

            See my comment in reply to MagyarViking below.

  • ViktorOrban

    So the Messiah said to the people who had believed in him, “If you abide in my
    word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the
    truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

  • MagyarViking

    “those who produce libellous fake photographs or video recordings”

    Well, this video by Erdélyi János and M.Szabó Imre will then have a serious problem…especially as Bajnai continues to win the libel-cases against basically all who publically made the claim of him being a Gooose Thief…

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