One of the issues we've talked about repeatedly over the years is the question of what is the internet jurisdiction .
If you think that just because it appears on the internet, anyone's laws apply, then you reach an untenable situation where all online content is controlled by the strictest, most draconian rules out there. That makes little sense.
And yet some courts still think this is the appropriate interpretation of the law.
In the US it's already troubling enough that the issue of indecency is measured on an amorphous community standards basis, but when it comes to the internet, what community applies?
A recent ruling in the 11th Circuit Court of appeals on a pornography case, the court seems to have made a ruling that effectively says all online content should be held to the standards of the strictest communities. Thus, an erotica website targeting
a NY subculture should be held to the standards of a southern bible belt rural community? That seems ridiculous, but it's what the court said.
In this case, a guy who produced porn content in California was tried in Tampa, Florida, because investigators downloaded his content there:
The Atlanta-based court rejected arguments by Paul Little (Max Hardcore)'s attorneys that applying a local community standard to the Internet violates the First Amendment because doing so means material can be judged according to the standards of
the strictest communities.
Other courts, including one in California, have found differently on similar questions, so it seems likely that, at some point, this issue will finally go back to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will focus
on what counts as community standards rather than whether or not laws against obscenity even make legal sense under the First Amendment.