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Information Law Master - Essay Example

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Information explosion has occurred with the wide and global reach of the internet. All categories of information are now available on the internet in electronic form with rapid communication and easy accessibility. Internet has shrunk the world remarkably…
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Information Law Master Essay
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"Information Law Master"

Download file to see previous pages While some of this vilification might have concrete basis oe simple retaliation; a good proportion of it is unprovoked with an attempt to sensationalize and target specific persons and organizations leading to defamation claims. In the paragraphs that follow we examine the treatment of obscenity and defamation issues on internet in jurisprudence, supplanted with case laws.
The concept of intellectual freedom is a draw-out from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. This amendment guarantees freedom of speech by mandating that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech" (US) An individual's right of free speech is, however, circumscribed. Very many forms of speech - e.g. defamation and obscenity - do not enjoy protection under the First Amendment. American jurisprudence has also afforded different levels of protection for speech depending on the method by which it is communicated or transmitted. A definition of obscene material was provided in the English case of Regina v. Hicklin (1868) by proposing that material is obscene if it corrupts the minds of those who are open to immoral influences. Most obscenity laws were based on this definition until 1957 when a US court in United States v. Roth defined obscene material as "material which deals with sex in a manner appealing to prurient interest,". In 1966 US Supreme Court in Woman of Pleasure v. The Attorney General (1966) added an angle to the obscenity test that the material must also be "utterly without redeeming social value". This diluted the law and made First Amendment protection available even to that material which entirely lacked literary value. Only with the case law Miller v. California (1973) did the US supreme court reigned in the "utterly without redeeming social value" dimension and redefined the present three stage obscenity test. The Supreme court stated that in order to ascertain if any material is obscene, the jury must reckon (1) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest; (2) whether the work depicts or describes sexual conduct (defined by state statute) in a patently offensive way; and (3) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. In United States v. Thomas (1966) Robert and Carleen Thomas, owners of a computer bulletin board system were convicted for knowingly distributing and transporting obscene material in interstate commerce over internet. The jury had applied the Miler obscenity test in this case. In Miller case the Court insisted that juries should use a local standard to determine the prurient interest component, rather than applying any national standard. However in Pope v. Illinois. (1987) the "serious value" dimension was tested to a national standard. More importantly despite evolution of the law over the years, US courts continue to find interpretation and application of obscenity law arduous. Solution appears to be determining a national standard carefully considering the tastes and inclinations of internet users.
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