Dan Bull's Stupid Injunction: rap about the UK's sexy, censoring super injunctions

Copyfighting rapper Dan Bull's latest track is "Stupid Injunction," a song inspired by the UK's "super injunctions," a process by which wealthy individuals and large companies can get court orders forbidding the disclosure of embarrassing facts about their lives, and forbidding any mention of the injunction's existence at all. The InjunctionSuper Twitter account purports to publish details of the Super Injunctions, most of which involve affairs, exotic sexual activities with prostitutes and sexual harrassment.

The new Bull song coincides with his latest business model: commissioned songs. He writes, "I was thinking about how musicians made money before the record industry came about, and with that in mind I've gone back to the patronage days of old and put myself on eBay. The opening bid was 1p and it's risen phenomenally over the past couple of days. More proof that artists don't need the 'protection' of IP law..."

Stupid Injunction (by Dan Bull)


  1. I’m still astounded by this super-injunction thing. (I’m from the U.S., where we have no shortage of horrible, scary laws). How the hell did they get away with slipping this in to law? I mean what are the “justifications” used to defend this idea? …Anybody? Bueller… Bueller…

    1. Because there are no privacy laws in your country?

      Superinjunctions may or may not be a good idea (although I can’t get too worked up about people just trying to keep their private lives private), but I’m tired of every example of legal consequences for speech acts in the UK being framed as “we have freedom of speech and you don’t”.

      You have plenty of laws limiting what people can say in various situations, same as we do.

      1. Such as…?

        Short of “Fire!” and “I’m planning to kill my Congressman”, I haven’t noticed many limits, at least not limits with any actual basis in law.

        1. Someone mentioned ‘”Short of “Fire!” and “I’m planning to kill my Congressman”, I haven’t noticed many limits, at least not limits with any actual basis in law.’

          Seriously? They may want to read up the ‘right to privacy’ laws in the USA limiting public disclosure of private facts where the information is not of public concern. Unlike libel & slander, truth isn’t a defence for invasion of privacy.

          The examples in that twitter feed seem to be mainly the kind that the ‘right to privacy’ laws should be protecting people against.

          If a media organisation wants to publicly announce that a football player is into a particular sexual fetish in his private life .. shouldn’t there be laws to protect his privacy if he wants it to remain private?

          The attitude seems a little inconsistent .. on one hand we want to sue organisations who deliberately leak confidential information (like someone’s web search history, medical information, sexual preferences etc) … yet we rail against a law intended to stop organisations from deliberately leaking exactly that kind of information!

  2. While I can see that it’s rank hyprocrisy for Andrew Marr to have a superinjunction to keep his affair secret while concurrently interrogating politicians about their own indiscretions, I fail to see why it’s in the public’s interest to publish lascivious stories about footballers. The public doesn’t have a right to know that some actor fucked some other actor while married and although there is an issue of free speech, newspapers shouldn’t have a right to publish whatever they want about anyone just because they happen to be famous. That’s bollocks.

    I also don’t understand the perspective of whoever created the twitter account – they’re presented as a kind of bastion of free speech but all they’re doing is spouting gossippy drivel about people they’ve never met, which is hardly noble. I know it’s ridiculous to feel sorry for celebrities but they are human people with lives and that.

    1. The point isn’t that we have the right to know, it’s that people should have the right to talk about it – people should be able to talk about whatever the hell they like, and newspapers should be able to print it, as long as it’s fact and not fiction portraid as fact.

      The content and context is irrelevant.

  3. Perjury, libel, slander and publishing ‘obscenity’ are still crimes (in many states / at a federal level) in the USA right?

    1. Perjury is limited to pretty specific circumstances.

      Libel and slander are damnably hard to prove, which is something that’s required in the USA (unlike in Britain which has among the most broad and vicious libel laws in the world– so much so that libel tourism is a booming… er… industry, even from places like Uzbekistan and fcking Sierra Leone).

      Obscenity laws are pretty stupid in America. Most of the really idiotic ones relate to broadcasting rather than publishing, and come from a decision against George Carlin that hinged on people not having many options for what radio stations to listen to. Now we have satellite radio, the internet, television… the laws are even more profoundly outdated than when they were put into action.

    2. Perjury is lying under oath.

      Libel and slander in the US require that 1) the statement is false and known to be false to the one writing/saying it; 2) the statement is provably made with malicious intent; and 3) the statement is shown to have caused actual harm. Obscenity laws exist, but are very weak (there’s no shortage of pornography in the US). Privacy laws exist, but as I understand it, they relate primarily to things like commercial use of someone’s identity or personal information, not discussion or reporting of facts and opinions.

      And at #24- it looks like you already know about the case. Therefore, even if granted, the injunction can’t possibly be effective. In fact, this may be the only situation I’ve yet encountered where I would be more convinced by a fictional anecdote than a factual one.

  4. The problem isn’t the law really, it’s more the inequity of the pay to play legal system that means rich folks with armies of lawyers are able to to bottle this stuff up. but generally it all comes out in the end. It is closer to the american ‘not reporting name the vicitim in a rape case’

    It mostly boils down to ‘taking responsibility for your words’, i’ve always thought of it (free speech in the UK that is) like the old ‘WELL (whole earth lectronic link) declaration that ‘you own your words’. all that being said it doesn’t stop the law being abused

    Anecdotally the only time I have ever encountered limitation on my speech was on a short flight to vegas where laughing and joking with friends someone said ‘it was da bomb’ and we were told categorically that the word bomb was illegal to say on a plan and if repeated we’d be met with police on arrival (b4 9-11 so likely even worse now) but then all your rights are pretty much suspended when you fly anyway.

    1. I have to disagree. The law itself is a huge problem.

      An injunction that silences you from talking about an issue *and* keeps you from talking about the fact that you were silenced begs for abuse, whether or not only rich people can use it.

      In fact, I can’t think of any legitimate uses for it at all. Love to be given an example of one.

      1. from Wiki-P

        A gag order has been used to protect ‘national security’. In the Allan Chappelow murder case, the trial was held mostly ‘in camera’ and media were prevented from speculating on the case. The order was imposed after a “compelling case” made by prosecutors, despite overwhelming media opposition brought by a legal challenge to the ruling.This criminal case has been thought to be the first in which a gagging order was imposed.

        1. Unless I’m missing something, that’s not a superinjunction. It’s just a regular old injunction.

          And either way, I can’t exactly see how a superinjunction *would* have been legitimate in this instance, nor that a typical injunction would have been insufficient.

      2. A legitimate use for a superinjunction might be something like a minor celebrity (e.g. TV journalist) who had an affair. His private life isn’t relevant to his public life, and granting him an injunction would still allow tabloids to print “$name has taken out an injunction to stop us reporting SAUCY DETAILS”, which makes the injunction pretty pointless, so $name would still get harassed about it. Our tabloids are far too invasive and powerful at the minute (see: recent News of the World phone-hacking case – tabloid journalists illegally listened to celebrities’ voicemails, forced police investigation into it to whitewash everything).

        Equally, there are plenty of illegitimate uses for it, for instance a politician using one to hide… well, almost anything. Or a corporation – see the 2006 Côte d’Ivoire toxic waste dump (shipping company dumped lethal toxic waste in African country, then used a superinjunction to hush up a report detailing all the chemicals in it).

        If one of journalistic freedoms and celebrities’ privacy has to be sacrificed, I’d rather the latter, but it’s certainly not an open-and-shut-case.

  5. Regarding Freedom of Speech in the USA, didn’t Boingboing run a story the other day about not being allowed to tell parents to keep their guns locked up in Florida?

  6. It should be remembered that while most of the talk about superinjunctions has revolved around gossipy nonsense – like footballers having sex with people – they are also used to restrict legitimate complaints that should be publicised.

    Private Eye had a good run down recently, for instance pointing out the case of someone having an affair with a colleague, who when his wife found out had his mistress fired.

    The thing, therefore, is that it’s more than just gossip, it’s the abuse of power. How that can be balanced against the European freedom to privacy – with the oft-cited example of what the impact might be on a named person’s children – is unclear.

    1. Shouldn’t people be able to have a sex life, and keep it private?

      The superinjunction includes not just that there be a ban on disclosing such sexual details, but that the very existence of an injunction of any sort must be also enjoined. Please explain the necessity of the latter for achieving your stated objective.

      Is the very fact that a celebrity has certain unnamed privacy concerns so scandalous that it itself must be kept secret?? Because it seems to me that it’s likely to be true about 100% of celebrities.

      1. Well obviously if a celebrity takes out an injunction to prevent details of their sex life being published in a newspaper, but the newspaper can still publish the fact that an injunction has been taken out by said person, then everyone is going to figure out that the person did something naughty.

  7. Re: The Twitter Account

    If Jeremy Clarkson had pictures of him and a pretty younger woman, he would never shut up about it. Fact.

  8. Nice to see that artists are taking the future in their own hands, even tho the corporations do not. Too bad there is likely a whole lot of backlog that will never see the light of day no matter how much the artists would want to.

  9. I say it’s better to err on the side of free speech than the side of privacy. But even if you think gag orders preventing people from relaying factual information is somehow justified, how can anyone in their right mind think its a good idea to allow gag orders about court rulings themselves? Do you really want authorities to have the power to silence anyone who would speak up about what their authorities are doing?

    As for everyone citing slander a libel as the U.S. equivalent: it most certainly is not. To qualify as slander or libel, the information must be false. U.K. injunctions and super-injunctions are the opposite, they are gag orders on facts, particularly facts about people with enough wealth or influence to engage in protracted lawsuits.

  10. “In fact, I can’t think of any legitimate uses for it at all. Love to be given an example of one.”

    One has been granted for an elderly woman fighting a High Court case for the right to take her even-more-elderly mother off life support.

    It’s the kind of case that, if we had a sober and sensible press that could report the facts of the matter without hysteria, would make no sense to restrict coverage of. But since we do not, in fact, have that press, the possibility of the DEATH GRANNY headlines targeted at an elderly woman in the middle of an emotionally fraught court case is enough to make me see the value of making the press wait until after the judgement before it gets to have its feeding frenzy.

    Because that is the point, you see. These injunctions may seem like an abusive restriction on press freedom to outsiders, but here in the UK I am afraid that our press has gone feral. A full 70% of National Daily market share is held by papers that employ people to root through bins, hack into phones, wait outside clubs for upskirt shots the moment a child actress turns 18. The highest paid columnist in the UK is Richard cunting Littlejohn, for Christ’s sake. We obviously have no standards at all.

    Our press is made almost entirely of scandal sheets run by the very dregs and scum of humanity, people who deserve nothing better than to be dragged outside and horsewhipped. In such anarchy, people take steps to preserve themselves. “In the public interest” does not mean “stuff the public might take a prurient interest in”.

    I understand that proper journalists probably find this kind of thing distressing. Luckily for us, we don’t have any of those. All we’ve got are self-righteous, pompous twats who think they are performing some kind of noble public service by telling us that Kim Kardashian looks a bit fat this week.

  11. The injunction *was* granted. We know about some details of the case; not about the identities of the people involved. Further, the injunction mainly works by telling reporters they can’t go bothering the people in question, or their families. Which, believe me, with our press, is worth it.

    You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that these things are there to kill all information from ever being transmitted. They’re not. They’re there to prevent intrusive publishing of private information by the world’s least ethical press.

  12. Pretty much all of the injunctions have been taken out by men to hide the fact that they might be abusive towards women and/or their family. If we allow men with money to censor information, while the poorer people cannot, well, figure it out. And if someone really wants to cover their tracks in revealing a cover-upperer, all they have to do is get a pad of post it notes and stick them up quietly in places where they will not be observed, and wait for the tom-tom drums to take over. The truth will out, technology or not.

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