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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics Events & Colloquium

ICOG/DemCP Symposium: Humor and Free Speech in the Digital Age: Law and Humanities Perspectives

When:Tu 18-06-2024 14:00 - 17:30
Where:Room A12, Academy building

The transformations of humor in the digital age pose new challenges for free speech and its adjudication – whether in court or on the part of social media platforms. For example, how is it possible to distinguish between satirical criticism of hate speech and actual incitement to hatred, within digital environments dominated by “comic confusion” and “ironic ambiguity” (Holm 2021)? How do courts and moderators deal with the complex intertextuality of internet memes, where the same template can take on widely different meanings depending on the forum in which it circulates (Greene 2019)? Where is the line between parodic reuse and illegal appropriation of copyrighted material, in the age of deepfakes and generative AI (Tyagi 2023)?

Building on a growing body of interdisciplinary work in the field of humor and the law, this symposium will combine insights from humanities and legal scholarship to address the multifaceted intersection of online humor and free speech – including recent jurisprudence on defamation (Little 2019), hate speech and incitement (Godioli & Young 2023), as well as new developments in Intellectual Property law (Jacques 2024).

The program will feature presentations by Prof. Laura Little (Temple Law School) and Dr Sabine Jacques (Liverpool University) as well as DemCP members Dr Alberto Godioli and Jennifer Young.


14:00-14:15: Walk-in and introduction

14:15-14:45: Prof. Laura Little (Temple Law School), ‘Comedy Collides with the Courtroom, and Beyond’

14:45-15:15: Dr Jennifer Young (University of Groningen), ‘Dog whistles, doodles, humour and the law: How to regulate implicit messages?’

15:15-15:45: Dr Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen), ‘Dark humor, incitement and free speech jurisprudence’

15:45-16:15: Coffee break

16:15-16:45: Dr Sabine Jacques (University of Liverpool), ‘Creativity, innovation and humour

16:45-17:15: Melissa Luypaers (University of Groningen), ‘Interpreting Dark Parody in Court: Between Free Speech and Intellectual Property’

17:15-17:30: Wrap-up

17:30: Drinks