Cllr Gavin Callaghan – against free speech?

I received legal threats via Twitter that if I did not remove an image of Cllr Gavin Callaghan from my website that he would take legal action against me. The discussion started with this post:

Cllr Gavin Callaghan has been an employee of Steve Rotheram MP who has been running a campaign to ‘secure more convictions’ for Internet trolling. Gavin Callaghan is a public figure by virtue of being a councillor and it is right for the media to scrutinise his actions in terms of postings to the Internet, seeing as he supports Mr Rotheram’s position.

The Berne Convention, implemented into EU law through Directive 2001/29/EC gives member states the right to limit copyright in a number of areas, one of which is news. Belgium have made this applicable to news, providing there is an acknowledgement of the source. We fulfil this requirement under Belgian law an d our terms and conditions for Crocels News are subject to the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Belgium.

Furthermore, considering the recent case law in the United Kingdom of Public Relations Consulting Association Limited v The Newspaper Licencing Agency Limited as our website hot-links to the version of that image then at most it can be considered there only to be a “temporary copy” on our website using the precedent in that case. Cllr Gavin Callaghan is a public figure and the rules of copyright apply differently.

As a cyberlaw expert I have reviewed this for a forthcoming book I am editing. I am confident that should Cllr Gavin Callaghan bring any legal action then a court will consider the use of the image to be freedom of expression and necessary in a democratic society for holding public figures like Cllr Gavin Callaghan who are elected to account. The use of the image contributes to a wider-debate so under UK case law it is a protected use.

Cllr Gavin Callaghan is a less than experienced Labour councillor, as I once was. He might want to refer to the case report for a case I brought to avoid making the same mistake, which I would cite in any court action he were to bring:

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