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Court accepts virtual porn case (fwd)
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- Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 19:14:06 +0100 (CET)
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Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 10:44:36 -0600
Subject: Court accepts virtual porn case
Justices To Review Virtual Porn Ban
by LAURIE ASSEO
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether
Congress can attack child pornography by banning computer-altered
pictures that only appear to show minors involved in sexual activity.
The court said it will hear the government's argument that by banning
sexual images that do not actually portray children, a 1996 law
''helps to stamp out the market for child pornography involving real
A coalition of adult-oriented businesses that challenged the ban says
it violates free-speech rights, and a San Francisco-based federal
appeals court agreed.
The Child Pornography Prevention Act expanded a long-standing ban on
child pornography to prohibit any image that ''appears to be'' or
''conveys the impression'' of someone under 18 engaged in sexually
The law targeted computer technology that can be used to alter an
innocent picture of a child into a depiction of a child engaged in
The Free Speech Coalition, a California-based trade association of
adult-oriented businesses, challenged the law in federal court. The
group said it opposes child pornography, but that films and photos
produced by its members could wrongly be deemed to show minors engaged
in sexual conduct.
The group did not challenge a section of the law that banned the use
of identifiable children in computer-altered sexual images.
A federal judge upheld the law, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals decided in December 1999 the provisions challenged by the
coalition violated the Constitution's free-speech protection. The
court said the government did not show a connection between
computer-generated child pornography and the exploitation of actual
Several other appeals courts have upheld the provisions, and in the
appeal acted on Monday, Justice Department lawyers asked the nation's
highest court to resolve the conflict.
The government has a compelling interest in preventing the sexual
abuse and exploitation of children, government lawyers said, adding
that pedophiles often use pictures to seduce other children into
Because it is hard to distinguish computer-generated pictures from
those actually portraying children involved in sex, ''The government
may find it impossible in many cases to prove that a pornographic
image is of a real child,'' Justice Department lawyers said.
The Free Speech Coalition's lawyers said that even without the
disputed provisions, the 1996 law ''remains a comprehensive and
effective tool for fighting the real evils of child pornography.''
The case is Reno v. Free Speech Coalition, 00-795.
On the Net: For the appeals court ruling in Reno v. Free Speech
Coalition: http://www.uscourts.gov/links.html and click on 9th
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