The week’s started out with several instances of computer law related material that’s perhaps not up an epiphany to all, but they were in the media spotlight over the weekend.
First of all the New York Times, in what it’s referred to as “as move legal experts said could represent a major test of First Amendment rights in the Internet era”, Saturday morning commented on the WikiLeak thing by saying, “Free speech advocates immediately hailed as a victory the decision (yesterday) of a federal judge to withdraw a prior order turning off the web address of the site, but the reasoning of U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White also means that the court may dodge having to grapple with some meaty First Amendment questions posed by the case and touched on repeatedly at a lengthy hearing in San Francisco.
“The question implicitly before the court was whether the victims of the public disclosure on the web have any shot at redress. After hours of discussion that suggested the judge’s level of concern with reaching the correct outcome, Judge White looked unhappy that he could not think of a way to help the bank customers affected by the release of the documents. But he said he feared the initial order suspending WikiLeaks.org raised serious questions of unjustified prior restraint on free speech, and that in any event, once the documents were online, the court might well be powerless.” The case is still open.
The L.A. Times, Sunday, reported that the Supreme Court may be reopening – for the first time in 30 years – the debate over what qualifies or is meant by “indecent” broadcasts with FCC v. Fox TV. (Petition for Certiorari )
In 1978, when the Court last ruled on this issue in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, it had agreed with the FCC that comedian George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” monologue, broadcast on the radio at mid-afternoon, was indecent. The article points out that the media environment’s changed dramatically since 1978, and viewers today are exposed to the more freewheeling cable TV, Internet, and “shock jocks” on satellite radio.
“At issue now,” the Times says, “is delicately described as the problem of ‘fleeting expletives’ in over-the-air broadcasts, which the FCC still regulates.” The Justices considered the case at their Conference last Friday, but there’s been no word as of yet as to whether the case will be heard.
Finally, the Virginia Supreme Court last Friday upheld the first U.S. felony conviction for spamming, sentencing Jeremy James of Raleigh, North Carolina to nine years in prison for having sent what authorities believe to be millions of messages over a two-moth period in 2003 (Decision)
Ars Technica reported Sunday that “while one might think that the Jaynes case should’ve been open & shut, Justice Elizabeth Lacy highlighted some of the reasons behind the close 4-3 verdict in her dissenting opinion, along with the potential dangers of vague anti-spam legislation ( Justice Lacy’s dissenting opinion begins on Page 34 )