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Title Dede v. Turkey
Date 20/02/2024
Country TURKEY
Judicial Body European Court of Human Rights
Case number 48340/20
Main themes Defamation
Employment Tribunal
Insult
Offence
Type of humor Irony
Sarcasm
Satire
Verbal joke / pun
Decision direction Expands expression
Outcome Violation of Article 10
Summary The applicant brought a case against Turkey for a violation of his right to freedom of expression. He was dismissed from his job after emailing the Human Resources Department at his place of work and comparing the practices and policies of Jeff Bezos with those of the company. The email was deemed to be accusatory, untruthful and mocking of the chairman of the board of directors, likely to disturb the peace and cause a nuisance at his place of work. The applicant claimed his comments had been within the acceptable limits of permissible criticism. He applied before the Labour Court of Istanbul to have his dismissal annulled. The Court ruled in favour of the applicant and ordered that he be reinstated and compensated. However, the Istanbul Regional Court of Appeal overturned the judgment, and the Court of Cassation upheld that judgment. His appeal with the Constitutional Court was declared inadmissible. The European Court of Human Rights considered that the national authorities did not demonstrate that his dismissal was based on a fair balance between the applicant’s right to freedom of expression and the employer’s right to protect its legitimate interests. The Court found a violation of Article 10 of the Convention.
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Title Oversight Board Case of the Media Conspiracy Cartoon
Date 22/11/2023
Country AUSTRALIA
Judicial Body The Oversight Board
Case number 2023-042-FB-UA
Main themes Anti-Semitism
Hate speech
Media Platforms' policy/standards
Racism
Type of humor Caricature
Cartoon
Social media
stereotyping
Decision direction  
Outcome Meta overturned the decision to leave the cartoon on Facebook after a user appeal to the Board.
Summary OVERTURNED Meta reversed its original decision to leave the cartoon on Facebook after a user appeal to the Board. A person posted a comment on Facebook which depicted a caricature of a Jewish man holding a music box with a monkey on his shoulder. The caricature had an exaggerated hooked nose and a Star of David label marked with 'Jude', whilst the monkey was drawn with a BLM label and the box marked with 'media'. The cartoon violated two elements of Meta's hate speech policy, one being 'harmful stereotypes historically linked to intimidation’ and the other being ‘dehumanising imagery’. In this case the equating of black people with 'apes or ape-like creatures'. A user complained that the content was both antisemitic and racist, but Meta did not remove the post until the Board brought the case to Meta's attention and it then removed the content because it violated Meta's Hate Speech policy.
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Title Oversight Board Case Human Trafficking in Thailand
Date 22/11/2023
Country THAILAND
Judicial Body The Oversight Board
Case number 2023-043-FB-UA
Main themes Media Platforms' policy/standards
Type of humor Advertising
Irony
Sarcasm
Satire
Decision direction Expands expression
Outcome Overturned - Meta reversed its original decision
Summary OVERTURNED - Meta reversed its original decision and reinstated the post after a user appealed to the board. An ironic post was published on Facebook in the form of an ad for a human trafficking business targeting Thais. It included ironic statements including "if you want to be a victim of human trafficking, don't wait". It also included screenshots of what seem to be recruitment messages and promotional content for the human trafficking business. Meta removed the content under its Human Exploitation policy but reinstated it once the Board bought the case as within the context the content did not violate the policy. The board highlighted how this appeal underlines the importance of putting moderation procedures in place which understand contexts of awareness-raising, irony, sarcasm and satirical content. The Board considered these ‘important forms of commentary’, and reminded Meta that overly literal interpretations should not lead to the removal of content and that appeals based on policy exceptions should be prioritised for human review.
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Title Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products LLC
Date 08/07/2023
Country UNITED STATES
Judicial Body Supreme Court
Case number 599 U.S. ___(2023)
Main themes Copyright
Trade Mark
Type of humor Parody
Decision direction Other
Outcome Remanded to the lower court.
Summary In July of 2013 VIP Products created and marketed a dog toy shaped like a Jack Daniel’s bottle named the Bad Spaniels squeaker toy. It was labelled with an image of a spaniel over the words “Bad Spaniels.” The Jack Daniel’s label read, “Old No. 7 Brand Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey;” and the label on the Bad Spaniels toy replaced that phrase with “the Old No. 2, on your Tennessee Carpet.” A tag attached to the Bad Spaniels toy stated that the product was not affiliated with Jack Daniel. Jack Daniel brought a case to the Supreme Court presenting two legal issues. The first considered if VIP’s use of the Jack Daniel’s trademark confuses consumers about whether or not “Bad Spaniels” is a Jack Daniel’s product. The second considered whether “Bad Spaniels” diluted and tarnished the product goodwill and public reputation that the Jack Daniel’s company had created over the years. Reversing the previous decision by the District Court of Arizona, the Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit qualified the parodic nature of the toy as protected expression through the Rogers test. However, Jack Daniel’s was granted permission to review and the Supreme Court dismissed the Ninth Circuit’s decision and remanded for the lower courts to conduct a likelihood-of-confusion and dilution analysis, which had been sidestepped by applying the Rogers test and the noncommercial exception respectively.
Link to analysis https://www.forhum.org/blog/dog-toys-meet-trademark-law-jack-daniels-properties/
Title Oversight Board Case of the Supreme Court in White Hoods
Date 01/07/2023
Country UNITED STATES
Judicial Body The Oversight Board
Case number 2023-059-FB-UA
Main themes Media Platforms' policy/standards
Type of humor Dark humor
Media
Political content
Decision direction Expands expression
Outcome Meta overturned the decision to remove the Facebook content after a user appeal to the board.
Summary United States and Canada Please note that the date on this entry is an estimation based on the posting of the image. Meta removed a Facebook post containing an image which depicted six of the nine members of the US Supreme Court in the robes of the Ku Klux Klan. This was on the grounds that it violated Meta’s Dangerous Organisations and Individuals policy. The user appealed and argued that the post was a political critique of the six justices' "prejudicial, hateful and destructive attitudes towards women, women's rights to choose abortions, the gay, lesbian, transgender and queer communities, and the welfare of other vulnerable groups". The company reversed its decision and reinstated the post once the Board had brought the appeal to Meta’s attention.
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Title Oversight Board case of the Niger Coup Cartoon
Date 01/07/2023
Country FRANCE
Judicial Body The Oversight Board
Case number 2023-047-FB-UA
Main themes Hate speech
Media Platforms' policy/standards
Type of humor Cartoon
Political content
Decision direction Expands expression
Outcome Meta overturned the decision to remove the Facebook content after a user appeal to the board.
Summary Sub-Saharan Africa, France, Niger. The date of July 2023 is when the image was posted on Facebook. Meta removed a Facebook post which was a cartoon showing a military boot labelled with the word ‘Niger’ kicking a person wearing a red hat and dress. The image was removed on the grounds that it violated Meta’s Hate Speech Policy. A user appealed this decision. The cartoon was a political critique which is reflected by the outline of Africa depicted on the dress and the cartoon published just after the military coup of Niger. After the Board brought the appeal to the attention of Meta, the company reinstated the cartoon.
Link to analysis  
Title C8 (CANAL 8) v. FRANCE
Date 09/02/2023
Country FRANCE
Judicial Body European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section)
Case number 58951/18 and 1308/19...
Main themes Discrimination
Homophobia
Media Regulation
Misogyny
Type of humor Media
Performance
Sexual content
stereotyping
Television broadcasting
Decision direction Other
Outcome No violation of Article 10
Summary Canal 8 is a French broadcaster which received a significant financial sanction by the national audiovisual regulator Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) confirmed by the Conseil d’État, after it broadcast content on two occasions on the entertainment programme “Touche pas à mon poste” which breached regulatory obligations. On the first occasion a male presenter placed a woman’s hand on his groin whilst she had her eyes closed under the pretext of a game, and in the second the same presenter assumed a false identity using a stereotypical homosexual manner and sexually explicit language when speaking live to seven people who had called in response to an ad he had placed on a dating website. Previous to these incidents there had been a number of programme sequences which had triggered interventions by the CSA. Canal 8 applied to Strasbourg complaining violation of its Article 10 rights. The Court found no violation on the grounds that the sequences were purely entertainment, lacking in information or ideas that might contribute to a public interest debate. The respondent state therefore had a wide margin of appreciation in deciding whether it was necessary to sanction the applicant company in order to protect the rights of others. The right to humour did not mean that anything was permitted, and anyone who claimed the benefit of freedom of expression also took on “duties and responsibilities”. The Court made an interesting (and unusual) comment “[T]he programme was particularly popular with younger viewers, so much so that a considerable number of minors and young adults had thus been exposed to material which trivialised damaging portrayals of women and homosexual people.”
Link to analysis https://strasbourgobservers.com/2023/04/07/humour-and-symbolic-violence-canal-8-v-france/
Title The Tintin Case
Date 24/11/2022
Country FRANCE
Judicial Body Court of Appeal Aix En Provence
Case number RG n° 22/04302
Main themes Copyright
Type of humor Parody
Decision direction Other
Outcome Financial Sanction
Summary From 2017 an artist manufactured sculptures inspired by Tintin and the rocket as portrayed in the original books. The artist was sued for infringement of the moral rights of the author. The artist claimed the works were original under the parody exception but the court concluded that they did not differ sufficiently to be qualified as parody and there was not specific intellectual contribution and/or questioning, nor touch of humour or even derision within the works. Therefore the work was an infringement of copyright and damages were awarded to the rights holders.
Link to analysis https://www.macroberts.com/knowledge-hub/business-services/tintin-v-zorro-parody-copyright-and-classic-comics/
Title Alm v Austria
Date 22/11/2022
Country AUSTRIA
Judicial Body European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section)
Case number 20921/21
Main themes Freedom of Religion
Type of humor Satire
Decision direction Other
Outcome Inadmissible
Summary The case concerns a complaint under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights by a follower of the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” or so-called “Pastafarian”, about the Austrian authorities’ refusal to issue him an identity card and passport with a photograph showing him wearing a crown made of pasta (“pasta crown”). The applicant claimed that the pasta crown represented his religious bond to the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” and thus entitled him to the exception of head coverings on religious grounds. The Passport Service Office held that this only applied where the head covering indicated a verifiable and serious religious affiliation or belief. The “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” was satirical, with its scriptures making ironic references to other religions rather than professing independent beliefs. In addition the scriptures did not oblige followers to wear religious clothing. The ECtHR agreed and the case was ruled inadmissible (the applicant had not exhausted all domestic remedies).
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Title Oversight Board Case of The Colombian Police Cartoon
Date 15/10/2022
Country COLOMBIA
Judicial Body The Oversight Board
Case number 2022-004-FB-UA
Main themes Media Platforms' policy/standards
Type of humor Cartoon
Political content
Decision direction Expands expression
Outcome The Board overturned Meta's decision and reinstated the cartoon to Facebook
Summary A Columbian Facebook user posted a cartoon resembling the official crest of the National Police of Colombia, which depicted three figures in police uniform holding batons over their heads and apparently kicking and beating a person lying on the ground and bleeding. The Spanish text read "República de Colombia – Policía Nacional – Bolillo y Pata", which Meta translated as "National Police – Republic of Colombia – Baton and Kick". The post was made during a time of widespread protest in the country following a police killing. The post had matched an image stored in a Media Matching Service bank which violated community standards and so was removed but the oversight board considered removal was unnecessary and disproportionate given the heightened protection of freedom of expression with regard to socio/political content.
Link to analysis https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/oversight-board-case-of-colombian-police-cartoon/
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