Sunday, August 20, 2006

Today's NY Times

Today's Times has an interesting (also: disturbing, appalling) article about the growth of websites featuring children in erotic poses, in an attempt to circumvent child pornography laws.

The article contains a brief and straightforward discussion about the relevant test a court would apply, including case names, which is unusual to find in a non-law publication.

To the Jamestown Lawyer, as someone with an interest in First Amendment law, this article is something I'd have loved to use as a start for a discussion in a Con Law class. With Justice Potter Stewart's famous quote in mind, the tests discussed in the article involve "seeing it" and forming an opinion that is at least subconsciously subjective. While it's seemingly a no-brainer to everyone but the people raking in the cash that these sites are child pornography, what about the same images and subscription sites with a 16 year old? What is she is physically indistinguishable from someone who is 18 or 21? What if someone isn't arrested for subscribing to a commercial site, but because of downloaded images from something like Myspace, posted by the teenager herself? What if the person in the photos appears a teen, but lists her age at "99" on Myspace and there's no other indicator of age? Those are just a series of hypotheticals off the top of my head which I would pose in a class, to show how this area of law relies so much on personal interpretation of the situation. It's an interesting area of law that I'm sure will see some more attention, if this Times article is any indication.


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