Judges refuse to overturn Net obscenity law

New York panel rejects arguments from fine art photographer who specializes in sadomasochistic imagery.

Declan McCullagh
Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
A special three-judge panel declined to overturn a 1996 federal law prohibiting anyone from sending obscenity across the Internet. The New York panel on Monday rejected arguments from
Barbara Nitke, a fine art photographer who specializes in sadomasochistic imagery, who had filed suit in December 2001 to overturn the law.

The lawsuit had targeted the Communications Decency Act's restrictions dealing with obscenity and community standards, arguing that applying old-fashioned geographical rules about what's acceptable makes no sense on the Internet. The judges agreed that Nitke was right to be worried about being prosecuted under the law--but concluded that she did not provide sufficient evidence to justify striking down that portion of the CDA.