The Media Liability Act

Consolidating Act 2014-08-11 no. 914.
The Media Liability Act
(Consolidating Act 1998-02-09 no. 85 – as amended by L 2000-05-31 no. 433, L 2005-12-21 no. 1404 and L 2013-12-26 no. 1625.)
Part 1
Scope of the Act
 
Section 1. The Act shall apply to the following mass media:
  • 1) Domestic periodical publications, including images and other representations that are printed or in any other manner duplicated.
  • 2) Sound and image programmes transmitted by Danmarks Radio (the Danish Broadcasting Corporation), TV/2 DANMARK A/S, TV 2’s regional enterprises and any other undertakings authorised or registered to carry on radio or television activities.
  • 3) Texts, images and sound programmes that are periodically imparted to the public, provided that they have the form of news presentation which can be equated with the kind of presentation to which nos. 1) and 2) of this section extends, cf. however section 8(1) of this Act.
Part 2
General provisions
Domestic periodical publications
 
Section 2. By publisher of a publication shall be understood the party on whose account the publication is published.
Subsection 2. A publication shall be considered to be domestic provided that the activities of the publisher are carried out in Denmark.
Subsection 3. A publication shall not be considered periodical except where it is to be published at least twice a year.
 
Section 3. Any domestic periodical publication shall specify the name of the responsible editor subject to subsection 2 of this section, in the following referred to as the editor.
Subsection 2. By editor shall be understood the person authorised to make the final decisions concerning the content of the publication. No publication can have more than one editor.
Subsection 3. The publisher and the editor shall be liable for any lack of or incorrect specification of the name of the editor. A person who has incorrectly been specified shall furthermore be liable provided that he or she has consented to his or her name being stated.
 
Section 4. The editor shall, upon request, notify anybody having a cause of action of the identity of the persons to whom section 10, cf. section 9(2) and (3), section 14 and section 27(1) of this Act extend.
Radio and television
 
Section 5. Danmarks Radio, TV 2/DANMARK A/S, TV 2’s regional enterprises and any other undertakings authorised or registered to broadcast radio or television shall notify the Danish Press Council of the name of the person to become editor under subsection 2 of this section.
Subsection 2. By editor shall be understood the person authorised to make the final decision as to whether to broadcast a programme or a feature. No radio or television broadcasting undertaking can have more than one editor.
Subsection 3. Upon request, any radio or television broadcasting undertaking shall indicate the name of their editor.
Subsection 4. The radio or television broadcasting undertaking and the editor shall be responsible for lack of or incorrect specification of the name of the editor. A person who has incorrectly been specified shall also be responsible provided that he or she has consented to his or her name being stated.
 
Section 6. The editor shall, upon request, furnish anyone who has a cause of action with particulars to identify specified transmitted programmes and persons liable under the provisions of section 17(1), section 18(1), section 20(1), and section 27(1) of this Act.
 
Section 7. The editor shall ensure that a copy of all programmes is kept for six months in a proper manner.
Subsection 2. Notwithstanding the time limit referred to in subsection 1 of this section, copies of programmes the content of which is subject to a complaint or legal proceedings shall be kept until the matter has been finally settled.
Other mass media
 
Section 8. Undertakings publishing the mass media referred to in section 1, 3) of this Act shall be registered with the Danish Press Council in order to fall within the provisions of this Act.
Subsection 2. Registered undertakings shall be subject to the provisions of sections 5-7 of this Act.
Subsection 3. The Minister of Justice may stipulate detailed regulations governing the content and form of the registration.
Part 3
Criminal liability for the content of the media
Domestic periodical publications
 
Section 9. Criminal liability for the content of a domestic periodical publication can be imposed only on the author of an article in the publication, and on the editor and the publisher, cf. however sections 14, 25 and 27 of this Act.
Subsection 2. The provisions governing liability for articles shall also apply by analogy to images and similar representations.
Subsection 3. News bills, posters, bills etc. shall be considered part of the publication to which they refer or from which they originate.
 
Section 10. The author of an article in the publication bearing the author’s name shall be liable for the content of the article under the general provisions of the applicable legislation.
Subsection 2. An article shall be construed as bearing the author’s name provided that it has been published with the author’s consent under the author’s own name or picture. This shall also apply where the article is published under the author’s pseudonym or mark, and it is generally known to whom the pseudonym or mark refers.
Subsection 3. Where several authors have contributed to an article bearing the authors’ names, and it does not appear which part each of the authors has written, they shall all be liable for the content of the article under the general provisions of the applicable legislation.
Subsection 4. Where the author of an article bearing the author’s name is a company, an association, an independent institution or similar, the management of such legal entity shall be liable for the content of the article under the general provisions of the applicable legislation.
Subsection 5. In the circumstances referred to in subsection 4 liability can be imposed on the legal entity as such in the form of a fine.
Subsection 6. A published text specifying the name of a news agency as source shall not be considered as bearing the author’s name.
 
Section 11. The editor shall be liable for the content of an anonymous article in the publication, even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent.
Subsection 2. The editor shall also be liable for the content of an article in the publication bearing the author’s name, provided that the author cannot be held liable under section 10 of this Act due to lack of association with the Kingdom of Denmark, or because the author lacks soundness of mind, rendering him or her not amenable to punishment. This shall apply even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent.
 
Section 12. The editor shall also be liable for the content of an article or statement which has been published in another mass media specifying the author’s name, and which is being reproduced in the editor’s publication. This shall apply even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent. Where the author or the person making the statement has consented to the reproduction, the provisions of sections 10 and 14 of this Act shall extend to the article or the statement.
 
Section 13. The editor shall share in the liability for the content of an article bearing the author’s name published in the publication where, with the editor’s knowledge, the article was written by a permanent member of the staff of the publication, where it was written upon the editor’s request or he or she had contributed in any other way, or where the editor knew that the content was incorrect or implied an invasion of privacy.
 
Section 14. Any person quoted for a statement in an article giving the person’s name shall share in the liability for the content of the statement under the general provisions of the applicable legislation, provided that the statement has been correctly quoted, and the person making the statement has consented to the statement being quoted under his or her name.
 
Section 15. The publisher shall be liable for the content of the publication provided that the editor cannot be held liable under sections 11-13 of this Act, either because of lack or of incorrect specification of the name of the editor, or the editor’s lack of association with the Kingdom of Denmark or lack of soundness of mind. This shall apply even though the offence cannot be imputed to the publisher as intentional or negligent.
Subsection 2. Where the publisher is a company, an association, an independent institution, a foundation or the like, the liability referred to in subsection 1 of this section can be imposed on the legal entity as such in the form of a fine. Where the publisher is the state, a municipality or local government authorities, cf. section 60 of the Local Government Act, liability can be imposed on the state, municipality or local government authorities in the form of a fine.
Radio and television transmissions
 
Section 16. Criminal liability for the content of radio and television transmissions as referred to in section 1, 2) of this Act, cf. however section 20(2), section 25 and section 27, can be imposed only on the author of a text, on the person making a statement, on the editor and on the radio or television broadcasting undertaking.
Subsection 2. The provisions governing liability for texts and statements shall apply by analogy to films, images and the like.
 
Section 17. The author of a text that is broadcast shall be liable for the content under the general provisions of the applicable legislation, provided that the person concerned has consented to the text being broadcast. However, this shall not apply where the author has been promised anonymity, cf. however section 20(2) of this Act.
Subsection 2. In the circumstance referred to in subsection 1, 2nd sentence of this section, the editor shall be liable for the content of the text, even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent.
Subsection 3. In deferred broadcasts the editor shall also be liable for the content of a text, provided that the author has not consented to the text being broadcast, or the author cannot be held liable because he or she has given incorrect information about his or her identity, because of lack of association with the Kingdom of Denmark or lack of soundness of mind. This shall apply even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent.
 
Section 18. Any person making a statement in a deferred broadcast shall be liable for the content of the statement under the general provisions of the applicable legislation, except where
  • 1) the broadcast does not elicit the identity of the person concerned, or
  • 2) the person has not assented to the statement being broadcast, or
  • 3) the person has been promised that his or her participation in the broadcast would not reveal his or her identity, and reasonable steps have been taken to ensure this.
Subsection 2. In the circumstances referred to in subsection 1, nos. 1-3 of this section, the editor shall be liable for the content of the statement, even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent. This provision shall apply by analogy where the person making the statement cannot be held liable because he or she has given incorrect information about his or her identity, because of lack of association with the Kingdom of Denmark or lack of soundness of mind.
 
Section 19. The editor shall furthermore be liable for the content of a text or a statement which has been published specifying the author’s name or the name of the person making the statement in another mass media, and which is being reproduced in a broadcast from the radio or television broadcasting undertaking concerned. This shall apply even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent. Where the author or the person making the statement has consented to the reproduction, the provisions of sections 17, 18 and 20 of this Act shall extend to the person concerned. A published text indicating a news agency as source shall not be construed as bearing the author’s name.
 
Section 20. Any person making a statement in a direct broadcast shall be liable for the content of the statement under the general provisions of the applicable legislation, except where the person concerned has been promised that his or her participation would not reveal his or her identity, and reasonable steps have been taken to ensure this. In this case, the editor shall be liable for the content of the statement, even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent. This shall also apply where the person making the statement cannot be held liable because he or she has given incorrect information about his or her identity, because of lack of association with the Kingdom of Denmark or lack of soundness of mind.
Subsection 2. Criminal liability for the content of texts or statements advanced or made in direct transmissions on radio or television from public meetings or other current events shall be imposed under the general provisions of the applicable legislation.
 
Section 21. The editor shall share in the liability for the content of a text or a statement as referred to in section 17(1), section 18(1), and section 20(1) of this Act, provided that
  • 1) the text or statement was written or made with the editor’s knowledge by a permanent member of the staff of the radio or television broadcasting undertaking, or
  • 2) the text or statement was written or made upon the editor’s request, or he or she has contributed in any other way, or
  • 3) the editor knew that the content was incorrect or implied an invasion of privacy, or in case of direct broadcasts knew that the text would be transmitted or the statement made.
Subsection 2. The editor shall also share in the liability for the content of a text or a statement where, despite a promise of anonymity as referred to in section 18(1) and section 20(1) of this Act, reasonable steps have not been taken to ensure this anonymity. This shall apply even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent.
 
Section 22. Any person who reads aloud or in any other way is instrumental in transmitting a text or a statement shall not be liable for the content of the text or statement.
 
Section 23. The radio or television broadcasting undertaking as such shall be liable for the content of a text or a statement provided that the editor cannot be held liable because of lack of or incorrect specification of the editor’s name or because of the editor’s lack of association with the Kingdom of Denmark or lack of soundness of mind. This shall also apply even though the offence cannot be imputed to the radio or television broadcasting undertaking as intentional or negligent.
Subsection 2. Where the radio or television broadcasting undertaking is a company, an association, an independent institution, a foundation or the like, the liability referred to in subsection 1 of this section can be imposed on the legal entity as such in the form of a fine. Where the radio or television broadcasting undertaking is the state, a municipality or local government authorities, cf. section 60 of the Local Government Act, liability in the form of a fine can be imposed on the state, municipality or local government authorities.
Other mass media
 
Section 24. Criminal liability for the content of the mass media referred to in section 1, 3) of this Act, shall be imposed pursuant to the provisions laid down in sections 9-15 or 16-23 of this Act, depending on the nature of the mass media.
Common provisions
 
Section 25. The general provisions of legislation governing liability shall apply to offences committed by way of the content of a mass media and shall be punishable by imprisonment for six years or more.
 
Section 26. Any media undertaking shall be liable in the first instance for fines and costs imposed in pursuance of the provisions laid down in sections 9-25 of this Act.
Subsection 2. When fixing the amount of a fine imposed in pursuance of sections 9-25 of this Act, the court shall in particular take into account the nature and severity of the offence, the distribution of the mass media concerned and the profit that the mass media has or might have made as a result of the offence. Instead of daily penalties the court may impose a different pecuniary penalty.
 
Section 27. Any person who has inserted an advertisement shall be liable for the content thereof under the general provisions of the applicable legislation. This shall also apply to any person who has assisted therein.
Subsection 2. The editor shall share in the liability for the content of advertisements under the general provisions of the applicable legislation. Where the editor fails to comply with his or her obligation to notify in pursuance of sections 4 and 6 of this Act, he or she shall be liable for the content of the advertisement, even though the offence cannot be imputed to the editor as intentional or negligent.
 
Section 28. The Danish Chief Public Prosecutor shall decide whether public prosecution shall be instituted on account of the content of a mass media to which the provisions of this Act extend.
Part 4
Liability for damages in respect of media content
Domestic periodical publications
 
Section 29. Liability for damages in respect of the content of a domestic periodical publication shall attach to the persons on whom criminal liability can be imposed pursuant to the provisions of sections 9-15 and sections 25 and 27 of this Act.
 
Section 30. The publisher of a domestic periodical publication shall be liable in the first instance for damages and costs imposed under section 29 of this Act.
Radio and television transmissions
 
Section 31. Liability for damages in respect of the content of radio and television transmissions as referred to in section 1, 2) of this Act shall attach to the persons on whom criminal liability can be imposed pursuant to the provisions of sections 16-25 and 27 of this Act.
 
Section 32. Danmarks Radio, TV 2/DANMARK A/S, TV 2’s regional enterprises and undertakings authorised or registered to carry out radio or television broadcasting activities shall be liable in the first instance for damages and costs imposed under section 31 of this Act.
Subsection 2. However, the liability shall not include damage caused through direct transmission of public meetings or current events, except where the damage was caused by an employee of the institution or enterprise concerned in the execution of his or her official duties.
Other mass media
 
Section 33. Liability for damages in respect of the content and distribution of the mass media referred to in section 1, 3) of this Act shall be imposed in pursuance of the provisions laid down in sections 29-32 of this Act.
Part 5
Press ethics
 
Section 34. The content and conduct of the mass media shall be in conformity with sound press ethics.
Subsection 2. Complaints of violation of subsection 1 of this section can be lodged with the mass media concerned or directly with the Danish Press Council, cf. however subsection 3 of this section. The notice of complaint in both cases is twelve weeks after publication. The decision of the undertakings concerned may be brought before the Press Council within twelve weeks after the complainant has been apprised thereof.
Subsection 3. Complaints of violation of subsection 1 of this section by Danmarks Radio, TV 2/DANMARK A/S’s or TV 2’s regional undertakings must be lodged with these within twelve weeks after publication. The decision of the undertakings concerned may be brought before the Press Council within twelve weeks after the complainant has been apprised thereof.
 
Section 35. The provisions laid down in the Danish Radio and Television Broadcasting Act shall apply to the content of radio and television advertisements and to complaints of the content of commercials.
Part 6
Reply
 
Section 36. Requests for reply in the mass media to information of a factual nature which might cause anyone significant financial or other damage, and which has been published in a mass media, must be heeded, except where the correctness of the information is unquestionable.
Subsection 2. Requests for reply may be submitted by the person to whom the information relates, or upon his or her death by the next-of-kin.
Subsection 3. Requests for reply must be submitted in writing to the editor within twelve weeks after publication of the factual information which the person concerned wishes to have refuted.
Subsection 4. The provisions laid down in the Danish Radio and Television Broadcasting Act shall apply to reply in respect of the content of radio or television advertisements.
 
Section 37. The obligation to publish a reply rests with the editor.
 
Section 38. The content of the reply shall in all essentials be limited to the necessary factual information, and the content must not be unlawful.
Subsection 2. The mass media concerned may require the person requesting the reply to prepare it.
 
Section 39. The reply shall be published free of charge without undue delay and in any such conspicuous manner as may reasonably be warranted by the circumstances.
Subsection 2. Editorial comments in immediate continuation of the publication shall be limited to factual information.
 
Section 40. The person requesting the reply shall as soon as possible be notified in writing about a rejection thereof with information that the rejection may be brought before the Press Council within twelve weeks after the receipt of the rejection. The rejection shall state the address of the Press Council.
Subsection 2. Complaint of an inadequate reply may be brought before the Press Council within twelve weeks after the publication of the reply.
Part 7
The Press Council
 
Section 41. A Press Council shall be established comprising a chairman and a vice-chairman and six other members to be appointed by the Minister of Justice. The appointment of the chairman and the vice-chairman, who must be members of the legal profession, shall be made upon recommendation by the President of the Danish Supreme Court. Two members shall be appointed upon recommendation by Dansk Journalistforbund (the Danish Journalists’ Union), two members shall be appointed to represent the editorial managements of the printed press and radio and television upon recommendation by these media, and two members shall be appointed as public representatives upon recommendation by Dansk Folkeoplysnings Samråd (the Danish Council for Adult Education).
Subsection 2. The members and their deputies, whose appointment shall be governed by the same provisions, shall be appointed for four years. Re-appointment may take place.
 
Section 42. When ruling in a case the Council shall in addition to the chairman or the vice-chairman be composed of three other members; one of the members appointed upon recommendation by the Danish Journalists’ Union and one of the members appointed to represent the editorial managements and one member appointed as public representative.
 
Section 43. The Press Council shall rule in cases relating to
  • 1) whether the publication made is contrary to sound press ethics, cf. section 34, and
  • 2) whether under the provisions laid down in Part 6 of this Act a mass media shall be under an obligation to publish a reply, including the content, form and location of the reply.
Subsection 2. The chairman may reject
  • 1) complaints which clearly fall outside the scope of the Council, cf. subsection 1, or which are manifestly ill-founded, and
  • 2) complaints from persons, undertakings etc. with no cause of action in the matters against which a complaint has been lodged.
Subsection 3. The chairman shall reject cases where the time limit for lodging a complaint laid down in section 34(2) or (3) or section 40 of this Act has not been complied with.
 
Section 44. Any complaint lodged with the Council must be in writing.
Subsection 2. The Council may try a case of its own accord where the case is essential or leading. If so, the Council shall take the opinion of the injured party. The name of the injured party shall be mentioned only where consent hereto has been obtained.
 
Section 45. The Council shall request the mass media subject to the complaint to submit a written statement, and during the hearing of the case the Council can obtain additional information from the parties concerned.
Subsection 2. The Council may also demand to be supplied with a copy of the publication and a tape recording of the radio or television transmission to which the complaint relates.
 
Section 46. Cases before the Council shall be proceeded without undue delay.
Subsection 2. Where the mass media concerned neglects to submit its comments to the Council within seven days after the receipt of the Council’s request, the case may be tried on basis of the particulars available.
Subsection 3. The Council may summon the parties to the case to oral proceedings. Where the complainant fails to turn up for such proceedings without due cause, the Council may reject the complaint or try it on the basis of the particulars available. Where the mass media against which the complaint has been lodged fails to appear, the case shall be tried on the basis of the particulars available.
 
Section 47. A member cannot participate in the hearing of a complaint lodged against the mass media with which the person concerned is associated, or where there are other circumstances which may arouse doubts about the impartiality of the person concerned.
 
Section 48. Unless a compromise has been reached between the parties, the Council shall rule by a majority of votes and with a reasoned decision. In case of a tie, the Chairman has the casting vote. Where a decision is not unanimous, the dissenting opinion shall be cited in the decision.
 
Section 49. The Council may direct the editor of the mass media against which the complaint has been lodged soonest possible to publish a decision to an extent specified by the Council. Such a publication shall be made without comments and in any such conspicuous manner as may reasonably be demanded.
 
Section 50. The decisions of the Council cannot be brought before another administrative authority.
 
Section 51. The Council shall prepare an annual report on its activities to the Minister of Justice. The report must be made public.
 
Section 52. After conducting negotiations with the Council, the Minister of Justice shall lay down the Press Council’s rules of procedure.
Subsection 2. The Council shall be assisted by a secretariat.
Subsection 3. The Minister of Justice may direct that the expenses appertaining to the activities of the Council be defrayed by the mass media according to a scale to be fixed in the Council’s rules of procedure.
Part 8
Punishment etc.
 
Section 53. Violation of section 3(1), cf. (3), section 4, section 5(1), cf. (4), section 5(3), sections 6, 7 and 8(2) of this Act shall be punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to four months.
Subsection 2. Failure to comply with an order for publication under sections 49 and 54 of this Act shall be punishable by a fine or imprisonment up to four months.
Subsection 3. Where an offence has been committed by a company, an association, an independent institution, a foundation or the like, the legal entity as such can be liable to a fine. Where the offence has been committed by the state, a municipality or local government authorities cf. section 60 of the Local Government Act, the state, municipality or local government authorities shall be liable to a fine.
 
Section 54. A verdict of guilty rendering someone liable to punishment, payment of damages or cancellation of the content of a mass media may rule that the content of the verdict be published soonest possible by the media to an extent specified by the court. The obligation to publish the verdict rests with the editor.
Subsection 2. The publication shall be free of charge and in any such conspicuous manner as may reasonably be demanded.
Part 9
Entry into force etc.
 
Section 55. This Act shall enter into force on 1 January 1992.
Subsection 2. Act no. 147 of 13 April 1938 on the Use of the Press shall be repealed simultaneously.
 
Sections 56. (Omitted).
 
Sections 57. (Omitted).
 
Sections 58. (Omitted).

Section 59. This Act shall not extend to the Faroe Islands and Greenland, except that sections 1-54 and section 58 of this Act may by Royal Decree wholly or partly be brought into force for the Faroe Islands and Greenland with the deviations warranted by the special conditions prevailing in the Faroe Islands and Greenland.