Daithí Mac Síthigh is Lecturer in the Law of Digital Media at the University of Edinburgh (joined August 2012) and a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where he wrote his PhD thesis on 'Convergence and the right to communicate: assessing the application of media law to the Internet'. Previously, he was a lecturer at the UEA Law School, University of East Anglia (2008-2012), where he taught IT, media and constitutional law, and was director of its LLM Information Technology and Intellectual Property.
Daithí's particular research interests are in the law of new media (including video-on-demand and Internet regulation). He currently teaches on the Honours modules in IT & the law, Media Law, and Constitutional Law. He also contributes to the LLM programmes, including in 2012/13 International IP Systems, The Law of Electronic Commerce, Legal Challenges of IT, and European/International Human Rights Law. In 2013/14, he will be responsible for new courses on Entertainment Law (Honours) and Communications Law (LLM and eLLM)
He has received research funding from the British Academy (media complaints and convergence) and the Northern Telecom Canadian Studies Scholarship (Canadian media and internet policy) and was an academic witness to the Leveson Inquiry on the media in December 2011. Daithí is currentlyworking on two projects as part of the inter-institutional Centre for Creativity, Regulation, Enterprise & Technology (CREATe), on intermediaries (with Dr. Emily Laidlaw, UEA) and on video games and transmedia (with Dr. Keith M. Johnston, School of Film & Media, UEA).
Daithí is a member of the SCRIPT centre at the Law School. He is also external examiner at the University of Strathclyde, convenor for media and communications in the Society of Legal Scholars, an editor of SCRIPTed: A Journal of Law and Technology, a member of the Media Board of the Society of Computers & Law, and blogs at Lex Ferenda. You can follow him on Twitter at @macsithigh.
Information Technology and the Law
(Honours) (Course Organiser)
European and International Human Rights Law
International Intellectual Property System
(LLM) (Course Organiser)
Law of E-commerce
(LLM) (Course Organiser)
Legal Challenges of Information Technologies
This article assesses the regulation of smartphone ‘app stores’. At the outset, the significance of smartphones and apps to the debate on Internet regulation is considered, and places in the context of the adoption of smartphones and apps. The importance (commercially and as a study in governance and control) of the iOS App Store (Apple) is highlighted, as is the need to explore forms of regulation that are not linked with a violation of competition law. Section ‘Developer-focused issues’ deals with the relationship between Apple and app developers; three themes of Apple’s Guidelines are identified (content, development and payments), and the ways in which control can be challenged (through jailbreaking, ‘web apps’ and regulatory intervention) are scrutinized. Section ‘Citizen- and consumer-focused issues’ considers three ways in which apps are already regulated by law. The focus is on the protection of consumers (particularly through the UK system for ‘premium rate services’), but a discussion of user privacy and the regulation of video games and video-on-demand services in Europe is also included. Finally, in the section ‘Conclusion’, the tension between comparatively ‘open’ and ‘closed’ app stores is highlighted; the problems of applying general provisions to emerging formats are emphasized. It is concluded that the emerging status of non-carrier app stores as neither retailer nor platform means that it is not yet possible to identify the form of regulation that is in operation, but that some steps are available to legislators that could shift the balance between closed and open models.
Daithi Mac Sithigh, John Sheekey 'All That Glitters Is Not Gold, But Is It Diamond? [editorial]' (2012) SCRIPT-ed 9(3): 275
Daithi Mac Sithigh, Mathias M. Siems 'Mapping legal research' (2012) Cambridge Law Journal 71(3): 651-676
This article aims to map the position of academic legal research, using a distinction between “law as a practical discipline”, “law as humanities” and “law as social sciences” as a conceptual framework. Having explained this framework, we address both the “macro” and “micro” level of legal research in the UK. For this purpose, we have collected information on the position of all law schools within the structure of their respective universities. We also introduce “ternary plots” as a new way of explaining individual research preferences. Our general result is that all three categories play a role within the context of UK legal academia, though the relationship between the “macro” and the “micro” level is not always straight-forward. We also provide comparisons with the US and Germany and show that in all three countries law as an academic tradition has been constantly evolving, raising questions such as whether the UK could or should move further to a social science model already dominant in the US.
This article considers and assesses pseudo-public spaces, considering both physical and non-physical spaces. Presenting perspectives from law, geography, architecture and communication studies, it is argued that there are links between the conditions pertaining to shopping centres, redeveloped city centres, Internet service providers and websites. Particular attention is paid to unfulfilled claims regarding the promise of new spaces, or inconsistencies as between the form and substance of a given space. The owners of pseudo-public physical spaces use legal tools such as the right to exclude from private property, while the owners of pseudo-public virtual spaces often base the relationship with a user on contractual agreements; in both cases, concepts of fundamental rights are also affected, if not often vindicated. The consequences of these approaches are assessed, drawing on critical legal geography and the history of ‘common carriers’ and other forms of regulation.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Co-regulation, video-on-demand, and the legal status of audio-visual media' (2011) International Journal of Digital Television 2(1): 49-66
Pre-print available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1728664
Media regulation in the United Kingdom has traditionally seen a division between State regulation (in the case of broadcasting) and self-regulation (in the case of newspapers), both subject to laws of general application. However, co-regulation has emerged as a significant feature of contemporary regulation of the media, particularly in relation to video- on-demand (VOD). This article considers the various stages of consultation and implementation of the European Union’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) in the United Kingdom. A proposal for a new approach to categorizing and analysing relevant statutory provisions and regulatory arrangements that pertain to audio-visual media including VOD is made. Other issues are explored, including methods of regulation, technological and organizational developments in the media industries, and the impact on community media and the film industry. It is argued that the AVMSD did not resolve all issues in relation to the scope of regulation, and that even the most recent developments in the launch of co-regulation highlight the diverse forms of media regulation now in force.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Regulating the Medium: reactions to network neutrality in the European Union and Canada' (2011) Journal of Internet Law 14(8): 3-14
Daithi Mac Sithigh ''I'd tell you everything if you'd pick up that telephone': political expression and data protection.' (2011) European Human Rights Law Review 166-175
Preprint available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1849603
Discusses the significance of Directive 2002/58 in terms of its effect on democratic political activities. Comments on the data protection framework in the UK, noting problems experienced by political parties attempting direct marketing by means of automated messaging as part of their campaigning. Looks at the scope and definition of the law, addressing direct marketing issues and whether there is a case for treating political communication differently. Examines the impact of the framework on human rights, including the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.10.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Legal games: the regulation of content and the challenge of casual gaming' (2011) Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds 3(1): 3-19
Pre-print available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2017235
The regulation of video games in the United Kingdom has come under the authority of the British Board of Film Classification since the 1980s, but the system was extended in 2010 and a new authority will take over from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in due course. This article considers the history of this regulatory system, arguing that the limitations of the Video Recordings Act (VRA) (the governing statute) and the assumptions made by legislators are a result of the gulf between legal and academic understandings of games. Furthermore, the range of games now played, such as casual downloadable games and applications on smartphones and mobile devices, means that the dividing line between regulated and unregulated may be based on history instead of necessity. The author draws upon legal decisions, regulatory statements, and general and specialist press reports, alongside the academic literature on games from the humanities and the social sciences, arguing that an alternative form of legal control could be informed by advances in the academic and cultural understanding of video games.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'The regulation of video games: past, present and future' (2010) Entertainment Law Review 21(8): 298
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Pensioners over prisoners: amending the Scotland Act in response to Somerville and Napier' (2010) Juridical Review 1-14
Pre-print available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1715953
Comments on the political response to the House of Lords ruling in Somerville v. Scottish Ministers that claims brought under the Scotland Act 1998 alleging that an administrative action violated the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 were not subject to the same one-year limitation period as claims under the Human Rights Act 1998 alleging that a public authority had breached the Convention. Evaluates the solution selected for the Convention Rights Proceedings (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2009, and compares the approaches of other jurisdictions concerning the application of a limitation period to fundamental rights claims.
Pre-print available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1715955
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is assessed in this paper as having a special role in the development of the law of new media, recognising both the importance of its management of the global domain name system and how questions of institutional legitimacy have highlighted the lack of agreement on the role of law in the governance of the global Internet. In order to underline how ICANN's work relates to the regulation of the Internet and new media in particular., two particular issues are considered, both of which have been the subject of major announcements in 2009: (1) the facilitation of Internet multilingualism through internationalised domain names (IDNs) and (2) an attempt to expand the generic top-level domain (gTLD) system including prospect of dedicated gTLDs such as .xxx. In the case of internationalisation, it is argued that the question of internationalised domain names is best understood through its relation to historical processes of engagement between law, language and technology.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Law in the Last Mile: Sharing Internet Access Through WiFi' (2009) SCRIPT-ed 6(2): 355-376
Pre-print available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1271863
This article addresses the topical question of how the increased availability of (and popular interest in) user-generated content (UGC) influences the development of cyberlaw. While recognising that the Web has been 'user-generated' since its creation, it is argued that the commercial and critical interest in small-scale and individual contributions to the audio/video Web, and the use of such material by established media providers (online and offline) presents a challenge to those who are interested in Internet regulation and the evolution of Web media law. Differing perspectives on the future of Internet regulation are considered in the light of how they relate to understanding the UGC challenge.
UGC does not necessarily 'create' novel issues or problems, but it brings questions of law, regulation and control that have traditionally assumed a small number of regulatory subjects into contact with a wide, non-legal audience. This paper has a particular focus on the role of the familiar 'platforms' for creating and sharing content, including social networking sites. Possible responses to the threat of private censorship and control range from community pressure to the application of self-regulation; each response, though, could stifle the creativity and freedom that is at the heart of the shift from mass media to UGC.
The author concludes by arguing that a critical understanding of the role of the private gatekeeper is particularly important in order to protect the rights of the diverse, apolitical users that form a large part of the audience for and membership of user-generated and social networking websites.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Student contributions to academic values' (2006) Higher Education in Europe 31(4): 409
Smita Kheria, Daithi Mac Sithigh, Judith Rauhofer, Burkhard Schafer '(Mis)appropriation Art? Copyright and Data Protection implications of "CCTV Sniffing" as Art' in E. Schweighofer, F. Kummer, W. Hötzendorfer (eds) Abstraktion und Applikation (OCG, 2013) 489-498
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'From Freedom of Speech to the Right to Communicate' in Monroe Price, Stefan Verhulst and Libby Morgan (eds) Routledge Handbook of Media Law (Routledge, 2012) pp. 174-191
The concept of communication rights forms an important part of current debates on media and the Internet. This chapter explores several sources for the concept: the “right to communicate” as a human right, the project for a New World Information and Communications Order (NWICO), and the medium-focused scholarship of Harold Innis, among others. The right to communicate is reviewed as a more appropriate approach to the regulation of media and technology than existing concepts of freedom of expression, particularly as incorporated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Reinvigorated international debates on communication rights provide an opportunity to address the problems of global communications law in a new way. Building on these observations, the chapter considers the outlook for the right to communicate—whether directly or through expansion of existing rights.
The purpose of this chapter is to explain, in the context of telecommunications law and regulation, the regulation by EU and UK law of audiovisual and radio media services. The focus here (with a view to the interests of readers) is on licensing of content and multiplex services by Ofcom and the handling of complaints about those services, with a bias towards the standard licences for services on cable, satellite, internet, and digital terrestrial platforms, and the regulation of DTT multiplexes, as opposed to detailed description of the BBC and the commercial public service broadcasters. However, the new system for the regulation of on-demand services is explained in a little more detail. Section 2 reviews the AVMSD, including the determination of jurisdiction, and presents its provisions in summary form. Section 3 deals with television services, including selected requirements of the Directive, consideration of each type of licence issued by Ofcom, the regulation of key infrastructure (electronic programme guides and conditional access), the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, and (in brief) public service broadcasting. It also notes the regulation of radio, which is not subject to the Directive. Section 4 considers on-demand services. Advertising (across broadcast, on-demand and non-broadcast systems) is the subject of Section 5, and this Section also takes up the regulation of sponsorship, product placement, teleshopping and ‘participation TV’. Section 6 is somewhat different in that it is about the regulation of premium rate services (PRS). Although a form of content regulation, this is more directly associated with telecommunications law (originally a condition of a telecommunications licence, now a standalone scheme). A coda deals with the link between broadcast regulation and PRS regulation. Finally, Section 7 considers current and future developments in the area of regulation and technological convergence.
No single body is responsible for language law and policy in the UK. This is the case whether we compare Westminster responsibilities with those of the devolved administrations, or look instead at differences between the different nations. Different languages (Gaelic, Welsh, Irish and Ulster-Scots) are also in different positions when it comes to demographics, transmission and use. In this paper, I consider how the distribution of competences can affect the realisation of language rights (even when language is not specifically mentioned) and highlight the continuing role of the Westminster parliament and UK authorities in relation to language, particularly regarding broadcasting. Reference is made to specific instruments (e.g. the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, the Legislative Competency Orders in respect of Welsh, and the St. Andrews Agreement), and the implications of current and proposed constitutional change for languages issues are considered. It is concluded that reform of the devolution settlements should include specific agreements regarding the linguistic responsibilities of devolved administrations and also the roles of territorial languages in the UK as a whole.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Tabloids, Top Gear and tasters: the Authority for Television on Demand and the scope of broadcasting regulation' presented at BILETA, University of Liverpool, 2013
This year’s conference takes place three years after the new co-regulatory system for on-demand AV media services came into force in the UK. In that period, hundreds of service providers have come into contact with the relaunched Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD). Many of them have notified ATVOD of their services and are now regulated by it. Others have challenged the idea that they fall within the scope of the amended Communications Act and the Audiovisual Media Services Directive; Ofcom, as the overall authority, has heard appeals on issues including the status of AV material on newspaper websites, editorial responsibility, conditional access and the protection of minors, and interpreting the Directive’s tests on ‘TV-like’ content and user expectations. A small number of cases on violations of the substantive regulatory requirements also exist.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'App law within: consumers, developers and smartphones' presented at 2nd Internet Law Works-in-Progress Symposium, New York Law School, 2012
This paper assesses the regulation of smartphone ‘app stores’. After a review of the market for smartphones and apps, and the ways in which scholars and journalists have used these markets as the basis for the discussion of legal and economic issues, I proceed to look at private and legal control of app stores, particularly the iOS App Store. Part II deals with the relationship between Apple and app developers; three themes of its Guidelines are identified (content, development and payments), and the ways in which control can be challenged (through jailbreaking, web apps and formal regulation) are scrutinised. Part III considers three ways in which apps are already regulated by law: the regulation of video games and video-on-demand in Europe, the protection of consumers (particularly through the UK system for ‘premium rate services’), and user privacy. The position of comparatively ‘open’ app stores is highlighted here, and the problems of applying general provisions to emerging formats are emphasised.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Broadcast bulletins: studying Ofcom decisions' presented at Society of Legal Scholars, Bristol, U.K., 2012
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Defamation, copyright and ISPs' presented at 5RB Conference, London, 2012
Intermediary liability under English law is primarily determined by the Electronic Commerce Directive, 2000/31. However, US federal law draws a bright line between the liability of intermediaries for IP infringements (which is subject to notice and takedown) and for all other civil matters including defamation (almost total immunity). Clearly there is a hierarchy of harmful online behaviour in the home of free speech. I will suggest in this note that the UK has made some moves towards a similar hierarchy although in a fairly incoherent way.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Death of a Convention: competition between the Council of Europe and European Union in the regulation of broadcasting' presented at Institute for the Study of European Laws, City University, London, 2012
This article considers a recent dispute between the European Union and Council of Europe on the roles of each with respect to the regulation of broadcasting, the culmination of a dispute dating to the adoption of the first EEC Directive and Council Directive on this subject in 1989. It is argued that the expansion of the scope of EU broadcasting law and the consolidation of the Commission’s role in external affairs left little room for the Council to continue to exercise influence over the regulation of the electronic media in the way it has done for some time. The exact nature of the dispute between the institutions, and the response of a vocal member state, is ascertained through detailed consideration of published minutes and internal correspondence, set in the context of doctrinal and political developments. The article concludes with analysis of possible future actions for the Council.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Classification of alternative content: law and convergence' presented at ECREA Film Studies Conference, Norwich, 2011
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'The European Convention on Transfrontier Television' presented at Society of Legal Scholars, Cambridge, 2011
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'How I learned to stop worrying and love essential facilities' presented at Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia, 2011
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Regulation of Virtual Worlds' presented at The Game Behind The Video Game, Rutgers University, New Jersey, 2011
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Net neutrality's tenth birthday: Internet regulation after the Telecoms Package and the Open Internet Order' presented at Competition Law & Economics European Network (CLEEN), Florence, 2011
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'A Neutral Heart: participation in Ofcom's 2010 net neutrality consultation' presented at SLSA Annual Conference, Sussex University, 2011
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'From moving images to audiovisual media? Mapping multimedia regulation' presented at MECCSA Annual Conference, University of Salford, 2011
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Is it time for a Film Act?' presented at Society of Legal Scholars, Southampton, 2010
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Debating digital copyright: an assessment of international reactions to the Google Book Search settlement' presented at SLSA Annual Conference, University of the West of England, 2010
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'The name of the game: censorship, trade, and the future of computer games' presented at BILETA, Vienna, 2010
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'What we talk about when we talk about Google' presented at Gikii V The Voyage Home, Edinburgh, 2010
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Securing The Status: what has devolution meant for Gaelic?' presented at Scotland: 10 Years On, Glasgow Caledonian University, 2010
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'It is hereby declared: the quiet reform of Canadian broadcasting law' presented at Society of Legal Scholars, London School of Economics, 2008
This paper, presented at the Media and Communications session of the Society of Legal Scholars in 2008, is a review of recent developments in Canadian broadcasting regulation, with an emphasis on those developments related to the growth of (mostly Internet-based) new media. It is argued that dealing with the question of new media represents a particular challenge for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and to the landmark Broadcasting Act of 1991. It is also proposed that the parallel discussions in the public policy arena on cultural funding and intellectual property form an integral part of the broadcasting regulatory system in the current age. Taken together, the various initiatives and decisions of the last five years represent quite significant reform, and it can be said that the mandate for broadcasting in Canada set out in the Act is undergoing a subtle transformation, whether that be through CRTC, industry or other action. In this context, concerns raised regarding transparency and participation in the democratic process, key elements of the historical approach to broadcasting and the law in Canada, are highlighted and assessed.
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Expression 2.0: from known unknowns to unknown knowns' presented at BILETA Annual Conference, Glasgow, 2008
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Minerva's mouse: the challenge of cyberlaw' presented at Osgoode Hall Graduate Legal Research Conference, Toronto, 2007
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Im in ur tube blocking ur internets: The Politics, Perception and Parody of Network Neutrality Legislation' presented at GikII, London, 2007
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Web Media: Without Frontiers, Without Borders or Without Law?' presented at UACES Annual Conference, University of Limerick, 2006
Daithi Mac Sithigh 'Multilingualism.com: Internationalisation of Domain Names and the Embedding of Online Language Rights' presented at International Academy of Linguistic Law, Galway, 2006