The Supreme Court of Victoria has extended the injunction yesterday despite counsel for The Age newspaper insisting "because the players' identities had been revealed on the internet, they had entered the public domain and confidentiality no longer existed," reports The Age.
The Seven television network and New Limited's Herald and Weekly Times - publisher of Melbourne's Herald Sun - made similar arguments in court.
The AFL's counsel Will Houghton, said the sites on which they appeared dealt only in "rumour, innuendo and gossip". Such "informal ramblings" are a "far cry from dissemination in a serious form of media," Houghton said in court. "These chat rooms do not purport to report the facts."
It doesn't take too much searching to find out the name of the club, a job made easier by the fact that Google caches the few mainstream media reports before they were taken down. Once you know the name of the club, just put that and "drugs" into Google News or Digg and you get a whole strong of hits from the mainstream media. We even found the name of the club still mentioned in the blog of one major daily paper - obviously they missed it in the clean up.
While this is the biggest sporting story of the year, it would have been a much bigger story if the courts had accepted the media's legal pleas. It would have become impossible to put an injunction on publishing anything in the mainstream media, because all a MSM journalist would need to do is publish the information under a fake name on some two-bit blog hosted offshore and then they could splash it all over the papers claiming "but everyone already knows".
There's no easy answer for this one. You can't pretend the internet doesn't exist and isn't part of the media. You can't create a legal situation where injunction are impossible to enforce (sometimes they are warranted). You can't create a tier system and declare some websites are "real" news sites and some aren't, because where would you draw the line?
The mainstream media might just have to accept the fact that it can't have the best of both worlds. If it wants to be considered the "real media" then it has to accept the responsibilities, not just enjoy the rights.