Saturday, October 21, 2006

COPA Trial to Begin on Monday Oct 23, 2006 in Philadelphia

The ACLU has notified the press and litigants for COPA (the Child Online Protection Act) that the trial will begin on Monday, October 23, 2006. The trial will be held at the United States District Court House for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, located at 601 Market Street in Philadelphia, PA. The case will be heard by Senior Judge Lowell A. Reed. The docket number is 2:98-CV-05591-LR, ACLU v. Gonzales.

The ACLU has asked that media inquiries be directed to it during the trial, rather than to plaintiffs. The contact points are (212) 549-2666 or media at

I am not yet certain (as on the afternoon of Sat Oct 21) if the public can attend, or if plaintiffs other than those who are scheduled to testify may attend. I am trying to find that out.

The ACLU has set up a website that lists the plaintiffs who will testify. The link is this. You can look at the upper left side of this web page for blogs accounting for the progress of the trial, and for audio discussions by the ACLU.

Generally, some of the points under trial are the exact meaning of the "harmful to minors" characterization of some speech (whether it is constitutionally overbroad), and whether the "adult id" or credit card verification is the least restrictive means available. There has been considerable practical debate over whether HTM is essentially synonymous with "pornography" but many of us feel that the term is broader. One particularly interesting question is the applicable universe of minors who may find an item online (the so-called "Clark Kent problem"). Another would be the effect of indexing, search engines, caching, and book content posting now more common with large search engine sites and publishers.

As I have indicated on this blog, content labeling may over time provide a much more cost-effective and efficient technology for protecting minors than other methods. But much of the work remains to be done.

I am a sub-plaintiff under the sponsorhip of Electronic Frontier Foundation. I have more details (including links related to this 2006 trial) here, and I have an account of the Supreme Court oral arguments in 2004 here, and an opinion discussion here.
My own detailed questions are here.

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