Reader Kenton Henry sends news of a recent Supreme Court decision about online porn and the Communications Decency Act:
The Supreme Court turned back an appeal on Monday from a photographer who claimed a federal decency law violated her free-speech rights to post pictures of sadomasochistic sexual behavior on the Web.
Justices affirmed a decision last year by a special three-judge federal panel upholding the 1996 law which makes it a crime to send obscenity over the Internet to children….
The Supreme Court appeal was brought by photographer Barbara Nitke, whose work is featured in the book "Kiss of Fire: A Romantic View of Sadomasochism," and by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.
Material that is obscene is not protected by the First Amendment, but Nitke's lawyer contends her work is art that is not obscene.
Justices were told by attorney John Wirenius of New York that if they turned down the case, "many more Internet users will likely face the constitutionally unsupportable choice faced by Ms. Nitke: either to censor her published images or risk prosecution."
The law requires that those sending obscene communications on the Internet take reasonable actions to keep it away from children, like requiring a credit card, debit account or adult access code as proof of age.
The real question, I suppose, is whether this will in fact have a chilling effect on speech. Or to what extent it will.
Kiss of Fire portfolio online here.
Annoying extra note: I wanted to quote from Barbara Nitke's essay about why she's bringing the case, the stakes, etc. but every time I tried to copy a quote to paste here, I was met with a copyright notice telling me to contact the site manager to get permission. Fair use anyone?