The Co-Protection of Minors in New Media: A European Approach to Co-Regulation

U.C. Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy, Vol. 10, p. 97, 2006

56 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2005

See all articles by Eva Lievens

Eva Lievens

Ghent University - Faculty of Law

Jos Dumortier

Time.lex Lawyers

Patrick Spaulding Ryan Ph.D.

Berkeley Law; Stanford University


European media policymakers have latched onto the term "co-regulation." However, despite the term's frequent use, the underlying concept of "co-regulation" lacks terminological and, more importantly, conceptual clarity. In this article, we will examine the use of the term in the context of measures instituted to protect minors against harmful content in new media. In doing so, we will attempt to sketch a clearer picture of the concept of co-regulation and the current use of media-related co-regulatory measures. Although our analysis is primarily based on the European example, we will show that policies in Europe share a common regulatory context and challenges in the United States. First, we will outline the theoretical state of affairs based on doctrine and on European policy documents and legislation. In reaction to the increasingly obvious shortcomings of traditional legislation in the new, converging media landscape, the European Union searched quite actively for alternative regulatory mechanisms, and we will describe this evolving regulatory quest, first generally and then more specifically with respect to media policy. After outlining the theoretical framework, we will approach the concept of co-regulation in a more pragmatic way by describing concrete co-regulatory practices in different countries and in different media sectors, paying particular attention to the protection of minors against harmful content. Further, we will briefly consider different co-regulatory tools, such as filtering and rating instruments, and draw a tentative picture of the benefits and drawbacks of co-regulation. In short, this article will approach the concept of co-regulation from both a theoretical-descriptive perspective and a practical-illustrative perspective in an attempt to provide a greater degree of clarity to this high-profile regulatory technique.

Keywords: co-regulation, protection of minors, juvenile protection, new media, europe

JEL Classification: l50, J15, K33

Suggested Citation

Lievens, Eva and Dumortier, Jos and Ryan, Patrick, The Co-Protection of Minors in New Media: A European Approach to Co-Regulation. U.C. Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy, Vol. 10, p. 97, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Eva Lievens

Ghent University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Coupure Links 653
Ghent, 9000

Jos Dumortier

Time.lex Lawyers ( email )

Sablon Tower
rue Joseph Stevens 7
Brussels, B-1000
+32477338296 (Phone)


Patrick Ryan (Contact Author)

Berkeley Law ( email )

United States
303-669-5710 (Phone)

Stanford University ( email )

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