JJUA55007U Media Law

Volume 2015/2016

The course aims at developing knowledge and understanding regarding law and regulations about media, journalism, public communication and freedom of expression in a European and comparative perspective. In a democratic society, regulations concerning media, journalism, internet, public speech, arts, culture, entertainment and advertising have to strike a fair balance, taking into consideration the freedom of expression as well as the need to respect other fundamental rights and freedoms as protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols (right to privacy, personality rights, presumption of innocence, property rights…). The course focuses on national and international media law, with special attention to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the legal framework of the European Union. The course introduces students to international sources of media law and freedom of expression. Students will carry out various types of comparative analysis. The course is intended for both Danish and foreign students. All required readings are in the English language and class discussions will be conducted in English


The course focuses on the freedom of communication and the most important restrictions on content, such as hate speech, racism and incitement to violence or terrorism, libel and defamation, intrusion of  privacy and breach of confidentiality. Regulation of court and crime reporting will be discussed, as well as specific journalists’ rights such as the protection of journalistic sources and newsgathering. The protection of children’s interests is another issue of particular attention. The central theme is the balancing of freedom of expression and other human rights and interests.
Studies will be conducted regarding civil and criminal liability, censorship, premonitoring and prior classification of content, broadcasting law and internet regulation, advertising regulation, freedom of political and artistic expression, freedom of expression and anti-terror policy, responsible journalism, freedom of expression for lawyers and the right of access to official documents. The analysis of the Strasbourg Court’s case law will make the students aware of some specific media law issues and characteristics in other EU-member States and in other member states of the Council of Europe. The course also analyses EU-law, such as the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, the E-Commerce Directive (liability of ISP’s for illegal content) and the Directive on Copyright in the Information Society (from the perspective of the “free flow of information”).

Learning Outcome

- Analyse the characteristics of national and international media law and a profound understanding of the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
- Put into perspective the case law of the European Court of Human Rights with regard to freedom of expression and media regulation.
- Compare the reasoning of the European Court with the characteristics of national law and jurisprudence.
- Discuss the importance of freedom of expression in a democratic society and put into perspective the interdependent but also the ambiguous relation between freedom of expression and other human rights.
- Explain the margin of appreciation in legitimizing restrictions on freedom of expression and media regulation.
- Identify, analyse and discuss international sources of media law and freedom of expression.
- Critically reflect on central issues of media law and freedom of expression (and its limits).
- Present media law policy aspects and specific issues or problems in media law in other EU-member States or in other member states of the Council of Europe and explain these issues in a broader context, systematically and with consistency.
- Reflect critically to all kinds of interferences by public authorities in the freedom of expression and information, taking into account the rights and duties involved regarding the respect for other human rights and other (legal) interests.
- Explain, discuss, argue and present solutions how to regulate or mediate the conflicting interests between freedom of expression and right of privacy, freedom of religion, presumption of innocence and fair trial interests, personality rights, protection of secrecy and confidentiality, public security interests, intellectual property rights, minority rights and economic and commercial interests.
- Communicate and formulate their knowledge and arguments professionally and linguistically correct and in a way that is structured and coherent.

D. VOORHOOF, European Media Law, Collection of Materials 2015-2016 (Ed.), Herentals, Knops Publishing, 2015, 395 p., ISBN 978-9-4603-5449-6, http:/​/​www.mijnwetboek.be/​en/​producten/​European-Media-Law-2015-2016

D. VOORHOOF et al and T. MCGONAGLE (Ed. Sup.),
Freedom  of  Expression,  the  Media  and  Journalists:  Case-law  of  the  European  Court  of Human Rights, IRIS Themes, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, E-book, 2015, 409 p. http:/​/​www.obs.coe.int/​en/​legal/​-/​asset_publisher/​LKFCws5ZZjhp/​content/​dli-iris-themes-vol-iii-edition-2015?_101_INSTANCE_LKFCws5ZZjhp and http:/​/​www.obs.coe.int/​documents/​205595/​2667238/​IRIS+Themes+-+Vol+III++-+Ed+2015+EN.pdf/​2f3d578d-2e05-442f-8326-917beab7626d
Some articles, blogs or chapters in books will be made on line accessible on Absalon (text document or link).


Combination of lectures, presentation of papers by students, analysis of case law, group discussion and "actual window".
Students also prepare documentation or read some articles, policy documents or case law in advance.
Each session contains short presentations by students and interactive workshop.
Some sessions in February and March will offer the opportunity for consultancy on the synopsis.
Learning method in function of achieving learning outcome (cfr. supra) and being able to demonstrate the achievement of the learning goals in writing a paper (synopsis) and during the oral exam.
A fair knowledge of the English language is a minimum requirement. Foreign students are invited to bring or organise access to relevant sources of their own national media and information law, as this material will also be used during the course.
Provisions on form requirements can be found in the exam catalogue on the online Study Pages.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 241
  • Seminar
  • 34
  • Total
  • 275
Type of assessment
Oral defence, 20 min under invigilation
Oral examination on the basis of the synopsis, 20 minutes

For more information on how to write a synopsis and practical information on this matter, see the website http://jur.ku.dk/english , go to "education", "for students", "exam" and click on "synopsis exam" or go directly to http:/​/​jura.ku.dk/​students/​exam/​synopsis_exam/​ or https:/​/​intranet.ku.dk/​law/​ma_adm/​studyprogramme/​curricularulesandexemtions/​

A digital version of the synopsis shall be delivered in (send by mail) before Friday 13 May 2016, before 5 p.m.

For more information on how to write a synopsis and practical information on this matter, see the website https:/​/​intranet.ku.dk/​law/​ma/​studyprogramme/​curricularulesandexemtions/​Pages/​default.aspx and go to study programme, go to curricula and regulations: regulations for synopsis in the master’s programme, or go directly to https:/​/​intranet.ku.dk/​law/​ma_adm/​studyprogramme/​curricularulesandexemtions/​Documents/​synopsis.pdf.

The synopsis is to be send to dirk.voorhoof@ugent.be, before 5 p.m. on Friday 13 May 2016. The file has to be identified as follows: Familyname_Keyword(s)_MEDIALAW_CPH_Spring2016
(e.g. Voorhoof_WhistleblowingEurope_MediaLaw_Spring2016).

The digital copy of the synopsis shall be in word or pdf, with on the front page the name of the student, student number, title of synopsis and character count, title of course Media Law/Dirk Voorhoof, KU, Spring 2016. All in ONE file, including front page, text, references and annexes.
Regarding approach, content, sources and methodology of the synopsis, further information will be given in class. Additional individual consultancy will be organised once the subject matter has been chosen or when the preparation of the synopsis has effectively started.
Exam registration requirements

In order to attend the oral examination, it is a prerequisite to hand in the synopsis before the specified deadline.
The deadline is agreed upon with the course lecturer.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

30. may - 3. June 2016 (preliminary dates)