Using Google Trends To Determine 'Community Standards' Of Obscenity

from the knew-that-data-would-come-in-handy-sometime dept

While there are plenty of reasons to have trouble with "obscenity" laws, one of the biggest is the ridiculously vague "contemporary community standards" test established by the Supreme Court. How does one show what the community standards are when it concerns activities done in the privacy of one's own home? Well, apparently, at least one defense attorney in an obscenity case has decided that Google Trends is the answer. He's planning to show that more people in the local community are using Google to search for the word "orgy" than for "apple pie" or "watermelon." That's pretty amusing, but probably not very convincing. How often are people really going to search for "apple pie?" Still, it does seem to suggest how silly the whole process is of determining what contemporary community standards should be.


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    identicon
    some old guy, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 2:05pm

    boobs

    boobs, and several other words commonly used to describe the female chest were even more prominent in the results.

    Since boobs are so popular, I see no reason why women should be required to cover them in public.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 8:13pm

      Re: boobs

      In Ohio they can be topless in public, well technically... A women sued for the right and won by stating it was legal for men to be topless in public thus the law couldn't forbid females from being topless. Trouble is, no one has ever really tested it out and just because they can't get you one way doesn't mean they won't get you another. It really is just like the right to bear arms, sure you can legally own a broadsword and carry it with you in public but just try to. You'll be slapped with inciting a public panic in no time.

       

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        identicon
        Luci, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 11:51pm

        Re: Re: boobs

        Err.. You can NOT carry a broadsword in public unless it is in a locked case. Not in Ohio. Here, you can carry a single-edged blade no more than 5 inches in length.

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    How does one show what the community standards are when it concerns activities done in the privacy of one's own home?
    It doesn't concern activities in one's own home. Possession and viewing obscenity in the privacy of one's home is protected. See Stanely v. Georgia. Community standards come into play once one chooses to make allegedly obscene material publicly available. The community standards can then draw upon what is publicly available in the community.

     

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    identicon
    Blatant Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 2:35pm

    So if boobs are "publicly available in the community" I can draw on them? Sweeeeet.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 2:42pm

    The Public At Large

    Do Google users represent "the local community?"
    I'd like to see the demographics for the community
    in question. To start with, how many residents
    are computer users?

     

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      identicon
      some old gy, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 2:57pm

      Re: The Public At Large

      So what are you doing here then. Go get a grant and do the study to find out. Let us know when you're done.

       

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    identicon
    The IANAL Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 9:34pm

    Expanded argument against Google as a Standard

    Stanley v. Georgia is a good example. Expanding on that, the prosecution can argue that the Internet is a separate community, not applicable to the non-virtual world.

    For example, most people think having sex in the bedroom is not obscene (many people do have sex in their bedrooms), but few would have sex in public, because the community considers it obscene despite the number of people having sex in private. Standards in the bedroom are different than standards in public.

    Citing Google as a measurement of "community standards" is relevant only to the Internet as a community. If Google Trends showed a majority of people searching for GTA IV, should the acts in GTA IV be made legal.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 9:38pm

    Google also does not represent those members of the community without internet access, or those accessing through a proxy, those visiting from other states, etc. This could also be thwarted by a lawyer hiring spam-bot networks to do thousands of searches on Google for pornographic materials in the month's and weeks leading up to a hearing/trial.

     

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