Friday, January 24, 2014

Google Book Search and Amazon "look inside the book" could have become relevant to COPA a few years ago

In editing the galley proofs for my “Do Ask, Do Tell III” book, I noticed an anomaly in the arguments that had been used to both defend and overturn COPA a few years ago.
That concerns the fact that many newly published books go into Google Book Search (link), which has itself been controversial from a copyright perspective in some circles.  
This would hold for most self-published books produced through print-on-demand since about 2003. 
Therefore, the argument that a particular passage or image might be “harmful to minors” and must not be available online in an “everyone” searchable mode but could be acceptable if in print only could not hold. 
In some cases, it’s possible for authors to refuse to let their books be indexed (as a few have done). 

Amazon’s sneak preview “look inside the book” could have run into similar issues.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Supreme Court weighs damages to victims of child pornography when they sue people who possess images (only after conviction?)

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday on the case of Parloline v. Amy Unknown, and U.S., 12-8561, concerning a woman, Amy, who won a civil restitution suit from one defendant, Doyle Randall Paroline, for possessing images of her being abused by an uncle, as part a much larger collection of child pornography. The Associated Press story by Susan Walsh was run in the Washington Post today, link here.

There would be a logical question as to whether Congress, in passing the 1994 liability law, had intended to distribute total award among all defendants associated with a victim.  The problem is that often just one possessor is apprehended and held responsible for the entire cost.  Theoretically, the defendant could have to pay every victim in his collection if all of them sued.

The case should be considered in light of the possibility that child pornography cases in the future could pop up because of wardriving,  or malware.  That possibility was discussed here July 20, 2013 and July 23, 2013 on the Internet Safety blog.  A prosecution might not result in a conviction because of the standard of proof in a criminal case, but a civil case could possibly hole someone whose computer had gotten the illegal images of the victim through malware responsible, according to lower standards of evidence and theories of diligence that could be expected of computer owners.  It does not seem as though this possibility was raised in the oral questions, and it needs to be considered.

See a related story here Dec. 3, 2013. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Canada now has a case of "sexting" by teens similar to many in the U.S.

The legal issues around teenage "sexting" on cell phones has appeared in Canada, as a teenage girl was convicted of possessing and distributing child pornography after she sexted certain pictures of a boyfriend's former girlfriend whom she saw as a rival.  In other words, she behaved like Theresa in "Days of our Lives". A publication called "The Province" in British Columbia has the details here.
But there is controversy in Canada, just as in the US, as to whether child pornography chargers are really appropriate in the case, despite the letter of the law, which seems similar to US law.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Katie Couric: "Knockout Game" YouTube videos shows how many minors on Internet lack "cognitive moral compass"

Today, Friday, January 10, 2014, Katie Couric, on her syndicated show, covered the “The Knockout Game” (link) and guests made the point that teens who engage in it will do anything for quick attention on the Internet (especially YouTube) and simply do not have the normal cognitive ability to embrace an adult moral compass – to see how it is wrong.
This comports with broader problems on the way minors use the Internet – cyberbullying, not realizing the downstream consequences of online reputation. 
This does beg a philosophical question that was indirectly visited a few years ago with COPA, that adults who use the web for what seems like “legitimate” unregulated or non-selective self-promotion depend on a medium whose openness invites abuse by the immature.