Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Second Circuit rules against FCC broadcast indency rules, compare to CDA and COPA

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned the “indecency” rules at the FCC against commercial broadcasters, saying they are too vague, as reported today by Cecilia Kang in the Washington Post, link (web url) here. The rules had imposed considerable fines for certain words and acts appearin on broadcast television (Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in the 2004 Super Bowl halftime provided controversy.)

The ruling pointed out the arbitrary nature of what is considered indecent language, and that English tends to invent new metaphors almost daily to deal with sensitive sexual issues.

Major network and UHF broadcasters are subject to rules that don’t apply to other cable channels or to Web TV or Internet streams, adding further to inconsistency.

The Broadcasting Law blog has an article here. 

What’s interesting is that some of the points were argued for regular Internet speakers in both the Communications Decency Act (1997) and COPA litigation.

Here is the text of the Opinion Fox v. FCC
The earlier Petition for Review was here.

The Volokh Conpiracy site has this analysis.

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