Face of the Day

As reported by NZN via NZ City

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig’s lawyers say he should have been cut more “slack” in a court ruling that called a copyright lawsuit he brought over a poem “vexatious”.

But those opposing Mr Craig’s appeal say he’s had enough time in court.

Mr Craig last year took WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater to court for publishing his poem Two of Me on his blog, along with Taxpayers’ Union director Jordan Williams for giving Mr Slater the poem.

The poem was written to Mr Craig’s former press secretary, who later accused him of sexual harassment.

Judge Mary Beth Sharp threw Mr Craig’s copyright lawsuit out in December, calling it “vexatious”, “improper” and a “deception perpetrated on the court”.

On Wednesday, lawyers for Craig appealed that decision in the High Court at Auckland, saying a literary work didn’t have to reach “Tolstoy’s standards” to be protected and that there were legal arguments that still needed to be heard.

Lawyer Kevin Glover said the case shouldn’t have been thrown out over a procedural error made by Mr Craig – who failed to file a reply to a document – because he had been arguing the case for himself as a “layperson”.

“Mr Craig should have had a bit more slack cut to him,” he said.

There had been no other agenda behind the lawsuit as found by the judge, Mr Glover said, adding the decision had been “coloured” by media coverage of other legal cases Mr Craig was involved in.

“He has a legitimate claim for infringement of copyright.”

But Mr William’s lawyer, Peter McKnight, told Justice Mark Woolford the case could not be considered independently of Mr Craig’s numerous other legal proceedings, reading out a long list.

“He’s had his day in court. In fact, he’s had seven-and-a-half weeks,” Mr McKnight said.

Mr Slater’s lawyer, Brian Henry, said Mr Craig had chosen to run the case himself and could have easily hired lawyers as he had done in past.

The publication of the poem came after the resignation of Mr Craig’s press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, days before the 2014 general election, with allegations of impropriety leading to Mr Craig’s resignation as party leader the following year.

Mr Craig has been involved in a series of defamation proceedings over the saga since, including with Mr Williams, Mr Slater, former Conservative board chair John Stringer and former employee Jacqueline Stiekema.

The judgement was entered in favour of Mr Craig, who now gets to pursue his copyright claim in a separate court case.

There is so much I can say about this, but it will all be pointless.  Courts do whatever they think is best.

The only truly interesting thought is that if copyright can be infringed in the process of taking a private document and then publishing it in the public interest, where on earth does that leave the media in general?

And Nicky Hager, specifically?


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