Issue 95, Fall 2004

  • The 9th Circuit upheld a ruling by a French court to prevent Yahoo from circulating information about Nazi memorabilia, which is illegal in France. The decision potentially undermines Internet commerce by recognizing the jurisdiction of foreign courts in such disputes.
  • The Supreme Court of Texas upheld The Dallas Observer, in its satirical use of inaccurate quotes. Its article ridiculed a county district attorney and judge who had sentenced a 13-year-old for writing an essay decribing violence.
  • The Supreme Court in California overturned the conviction of "George T." (aka "Julius"), a 15-year old high school student who had been imprisoned for writing poetry containing violent images allegedly in violation of California’s criminal threat law. The court held that the poem was "too ambiguous and equivocal to constitute a criminal threat." The ACLU of Northern CA and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression defended the student’s First Amendment rights. NCAC joined writers and poets in an amicus brief.
  • A federal court struck down a Pennsylvania law that would require Internet providers to block access to Web sites that might carry child pornography. Judge Jan E. Dubois ruled that "the Act cannot be implemented without excessive blocking of innocent speech in violation of the First Amendment."
  • As we go to press: a New York federal court has struck down provisions of the USA Patriot Act relating to National Security Letters and an accompanying gag rule, citing free speech concerns.