by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 24th 2007 12:40am
Just last week, Wired had an article looking at how a particular section of law regulating adult content could potentially hurt the growth of "user generated" porn sites. The law in question required any "publisher" of adult content to obtain and permanently keep records proving that the "performers" in question were of legal age. Obviously, the goal here is to prevent child porn -- but many felt that such a rule was incredibly burdensome on those who were producing legitimate adult content, and it was even worse for "user generated" sites that would now require such information from every participant. Now, Slashdot points out that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has found the law to be unconstitutional, as it violates the First Amendment. The Slashdot post is a little misleading, implying that the case was about age verification for viewers. It's actually about the performers. The full ruling (pdf) is an interesting read, but the crux of the argument is that while preventing child porn is a noble goal, if it ends up putting a burden on plenty of legitimate expression, then it's a clear First Amendment violation. Many people may not think this is a big deal, as they don't care for adult content or don't have any problem with having it heavily regulated -- but as the court notes, the right for people to remain anonymous is an important part of the First Amendment. Weakening that right -- even if for a reasonable end goal -- starts you down a slippery slope.
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