Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Newsy" stuff: state laws on websites serving adult ads; CISPA; ITU documents; and Righthaven's "eBay punk"

Since I’ve blogged about individual plans recently, I guess I need to play a little catchup with news.
Last week, on my COPA blog, I discussed litigation by Backpage against a Washington state law that would require websites offering ads for “adult services” to attempt to verify that the performers are legal adults.  This law in Washington is known as HB 6251.

There have been comments that the law contradicts Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (limitation of downstream liability of service providers), and that it would fail for many of the same constitutional failings that brought down COPA in 2007.

One could argue, however, that this state law (and others under consideration in other legislatures) are much more narrowly tailored than would, for example, SOPA have been.  Only ads are affected.  Presumably a website could outsource the responsibility to an ad provider.  Also, websites showing (as primary sources) adult material are already required to verify ages of actors in most cases.

(Note: there are credible arguments that the Washington law is still too vague.  See the posting June 15, 2012, above, about another lawsuit by the Internet Archive.)

There has been a lot of objection to CISPA, out of concerns that law enforcement could use information for non-national-security purposes, such as copyright enforcement.  Perhaps the experience with Customs (ICE) does not sound encouraging.  CISPA, however, is no SOPA.

There are concerns about international governance, the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), and documents called WCIT-12 and TD64.  I’m not too clear as to how much this could affect small businesses and startups and will look further.

There is a bizarre development in the copyright trolling world: Righthaven “copyrights” are being auctioned on eBay.  Are we all getting punked? "A-plus-K" would be proud. 

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