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Websites Less Protected Under First Amendment Than Print Media

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

07 December 2004


Ruling last Thursday in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Johnnie Rawlinson delivered a blow to websites and online news services in the United States, effectively ensuring that they receive less protection under the First Amendment than their peers in the print media.

Delivering his verdict in the case of Internetmovies.com v the Motion Picture Association of America, Judge Rawlinson argued that under the terms of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, the MPAA had been within its rights to send a cease and desist notice to the film website's owner Mike Rossi, regarding claims made on Internetmovies.com that full versions of films were available to download.

The key point under dispute was the fact that the movie industry body did not check that this was actually the case prior to sending the notice. However, the Ninth Circuit judge suggested that this did not matter, so long as the Association acted "in good faith".

Speaking to The Inquirer news service last week, Mr Rossi's attorney, Jim Fosbinder suggested that were similar criteria to be applied to the print media, copyright holders would be permitted to "shut down the New York Times on a mere suspicion".

Mr Rossi is planning to appeal the verdict.


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