Journalist’s activities in the digital age: judgment of the European Court of Human Rihts in the case of Magyar Yeti v. Hungary of 4 December 2018 (application no. 11257/16)

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Author: Alena Denisova

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2020-2-18-26

Keywords: European Court of Human Rights; hyperlinks; hypertext; status of a journalist; the digital age


This paper examines the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the Magyar Yeti v. Hungary case of December 4, 2018 (application no.11257/16) concerning the use of hyperlinks in the media. The “Magyar Yeti” complaint was based on a litigation over media coverage of a national conflict and the positions of its parties. The leader of the gypsy community in the village of Konyar in Hungary accused the Jobbik party of organizing attacks by football fans (expressed in aggressive and obscene shouts) at a school in the village. An audio recording of these allegations was published via a hyperlink by some Hungarian media outlets, including the applicant company. The “Jobbik” party filed a lawsuit in court to protect its reputation. The Hungarian court took the side of the Jobbik party and ruled that the defendant has to publish a retraction. This decision was supported by the national courts of other instances. However, the ECtHR found that “Magyar Yeti” acted in good faith, not expressing its own attitude to the contents of the audio recording in the hyperlink. Thus, the national courts violated the balance between the right to protection of reputation and the freedom of expression and, consequently, violated article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Thus, within the framework of this dispute the ECtHR started formulating a completely new approach to the regulation of activity of journalists in the digital age through legal assessment of the digital tools, which journalists often use in their professional activities. In particular, the ECtHR defined hyperlinks as a new tool in journalism, which differs from traditional ways of presenting information. Finally, this judgment focused on the issue of using hypertext (hyperlinks) by journalists in their publications; the ethical side of the professional activities of journalists on the Internet; the responsibility of journalists for the use of the Internet as a tool of communication and the role of the Internet for the realization of citizens’ information rights. Based on the examination of the judgment of the ECtHR, the author looks into the issue of legal guarantees to journalists in the digital age.

About the author: Alena Denisova – Senior lecturer of Media Department, Higher School of Economics; Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Denisova A. (2020) Deyatel'nost' zhurnalista v tsifrovuyu epokhu: posta­novlenie Evropeyskogo suda po pravam chelove­ka po delu «Mad’yar Yeti» protiv Vengrii ot 4 dekabrya 2018 goda (zhaloba No.11257/16) [Journalist’s activities in the digital age: judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Magyar Yeti v. Hungary of 4 December 2018 (application no.11257/16)]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.10, no.2, pp.18–26. (In Russian).


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