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Federal judge strikes down Ohio’s Internet-porn law

By The Associated Press
09.27.07

DAYTON, Ohio — A federal judge has rejected a state law that restricts the dissemination of sexually oriented material over the Internet.

The law prohibits people from sending communications that are harmful to minors over the Internet if the sender knows or should know that the recipient is a minor.

In his Sept. 25 ruling, U.S. District Judge Walter Rice said the law violates the First Amendment because it was too broadly written and could have ensnared adults having sexually frank discussions with other adults in chat rooms. In those cases, there is no way to ensure that minors are not part of the conversation, Rice said.

The judge also said the law violated the First Amendment by failing to target only people who intended to disseminate sexually oriented material to children with the intent to lure them into sexual activity.

Rice's ruling came in a lawsuit filed in 2002 by organizations representing booksellers, book publishers, music and video retailers and newspapers.

''While we should have adequate legal safeguards to shield children from objectionable content, those safeguards cannot unreasonably interfere with the rights of adults to have access to materials that are legal for them,'' said David Horowitz, executive director of Media Coalition, a trade association that coordinated the lawsuit.

The state is reviewing the decision and considering its options, Ted Hart, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, said yesterday.

He declined further comment.


Related

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Federal judge holds requirement imposed on ISPs is unconstitutional. 09.10.04

Federal judge nixes S.C. Internet law

Court: Statute barring online distribution of sexually explicit pictures to minors violates First Amendment, Congress' authority over interstate commerce. 05.12.05

Federal court strikes down COPA
'Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections … are chipped away in the name of their protection,' judge says. 03.22.07

N.H. lawmakers OK bill to protect kids online
Governor is expected to sign measure, which was designed to shield children from Internet predators and child pornographers. 06.09.08

Indecency online

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