Internet Law Heads- Up, Porn and the Liability of I
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Computer underground Digest Thu July 10, 1997 Volume 9 : Issue 55
Editor: Jim Thomas (email@example.com)
News Editor: Gordon Meyer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow Master: Stanton McCandlish
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Field Agent Extraordinaire: David Smith
Cu Digest Homepage: http://www.soci.niu.edu/~cudigest
CONTENTS, #9.55 (Thu, July 10, 1997)
File 1--Internet Law Heads-Up
File 2--(fwd) Porn and the Liability of Internet Providers
File 3--Green Card Spammer Laurence Canter Disbarred in Tennessee
File 4--Star Wars, Fanfiction, and Big Eight Newsgroup Creation
File 5--U.S. Justice Dept. Investigating Network Solutions
File 6--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 7 May, 1997)
CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN
THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE.
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 97 12:06:36 -0400
From: Internet Law Heads-Up <email@example.com>
Subject: File 1--Internet Law Heads-Up
INTERNET LAW HEADS-UP #6
by Les Black
July 1, 1997
Internet Law Heads-Up is alive and well! Welcome to the sixth
issue of my periodic e-mail letter on how law and lawmakers are
impacting the net.
E-mail subscriptions to Internet Law Heads-Up are free. Please
see the end of this letter for subscription information.
Here's what's in this issue:
1. DING DONG THE CDA IS DEAD!
2. A CAT-BASED DOG
3. PICS AND CLICKS
4. CDA II?
5. WE ARE WINNING
6. THE FINE PRINT
DING DONG THE CDA IS DEAD!
"The record demonstrates that the growth of the Internet has
been and continues to be phenomenal. As a matter of
constitutional tradition, in the absence of evidence to the
contrary, we presume that governmental regulation of the content
of speech is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of
ideas than encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of
expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but
unproven benefit of censorship."
With these words, the United States Supreme Court, on June 26,
1997, laid to rest the government's final argument in support of
the Communications Decency Act. The government had contended
that the CDA is needed to foster the growth of the internet
(we're from Washington and we're here to help you). The Court
found this argument "singularly unpersuasive".
The Court found the government's numerous other arguments
In holding that the CDA's "indecent transmission" and "patently
offensive display" provisions infringe upon the protections of
the First Amendment, the Supreme Court forged a landmark
decision. Justices Scalia and Thomas, the Supreme Court's
cultural conservatives, joined in the majority opinion with
Justices Ginsburg and Souter, arguably the Court's cultural
liberals. Preserving the right of free speech on the internet,
it turns out, is both a conservative and a liberal tenet.
The Supreme Court Justices, non-geeks who grew up when calcul-
ation meant slide rules and cut-and-paste meant scissors and
Elmer's, *got it*. Not just got it about freedom of speech -
that's their realm. Got it about the net.
A CAT-BASED DOG
"The Internet is 'a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide
human communication,'" writes Justice John Paul Stevens, citing
the District Court decision that the Supreme Court affirmed.
Significantly, unlike heavily-regulated radio and television,
the internet should receive the full protection of the First
Amendment, Justice Stevens writes, because prior cases "provide
no basis for qualifying the level of scrutiny that should be
applied to this medium." They got it.
Well, seven of the nine Justices got it. In her concur-in-part
dissent-in-part opinion, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, joined by
Chief Justice Rehnquist, swallows the government's misguided
analogy that a federal law criminalizing internet indecency is
similar to a local zoning ordinance.
Cyberspace, to Justice O'Connor, is a place, just like Chicago.
"Cyberspace undeniably reflects some form of geography," she
writes. But, as Internet Law Heads-Up #4 explained, Cyberspace
is more like Gertrude Stein's Oakland - there's no there there.
The internet is not a geographical location. It is, as Internet
Law Heads-Up #1 called it, a Big Conversation. A Big
Conversation that the First Amendment fully safeguards.
To be fair, Justice O'Connor does admit that the "electronic
world is fundamentally different" from the world of X-Rated
flicks and peep shows that can be zoned away from *nice*
neighborhoods. Then, however, she comes up with something
called "user-based zoning", which is a contradiction, like a
Zoning, by its very definition, can not be user-based. Zoning
is defined as government regulation of how you can use your land
and your buildings. You can not create your own zoning.
Justice O'Connor, undeterred by such logic, writes, "This
user-based zoning is accomplished through the use of screening
software (such as Cyber Patrol or SurfWatch) or browsers with
screening capabilities, both of which search addresses and text
for keywords that are associated with 'adult' sites and, if the
user wishes, blocks access to such sites. The Platform for
Internet Content Selection (PICS) project is designed to
facilitate user-based zoning by encouraging Internet speakers to
rate the content of their speech using codes recognized by all
Justice O'Connor calls these techniques "progress". But
screening programs, while restricting access to some (but far
from all) internet pornography, also intentionally filter out
vital and legitimate web sites. And PICS may do worse.
CLICKS AND PICS
The darker practices of purveyors of screening software have
come under increased scrutiny. CyberWire Dispatch, an e-mail
letter, received an award last month from the Computer Press
Association for its 1996 investigative story, "Keys to the
Kingdom" by Brock Meeks and Declan McCullagh, that began the
exposure of these practices.
Cybersitter, for example, blocks such non-pornographic sites as
now.org, sponsored by the National Association for Women,
apparently because they endorse gay and lesbian rights.
CyberPatrol blocks motherjones.com, the web site of Mother Jones
magazine, allegedly because of its political extremism.
When Peacefire, a youth anti-censorship group whose web site
appears devoid of any pornography, publicized Cybersitter's
willy-nilly approach to blocking sites it disagrees with,
Cybersitter responded by blocking peacefire.org.
*** Heads-Up Bookmark: For more examples of blocked sites, see
There you can use a search engine to "peek at the guts of five
Net-filtering programs: CyberSitter, NetNanny, SurfWatch, The
Internet Filter, and CyberPatrol." The search engine is
maintained by Pathfinder, a mainstream web site operated by Time
New Media, the online division of Time magazine. According to
this search engine, Cybersitter is - you guessed it - also
With the exception of NetNanny, screening programs encrypt their
list of blocked sites, frustrating objective evaluation of their
agendas. But it appears relatively easy to crack their
encryption. It appears relatively easy to crack their programs,
too. One of my top-secret computer-whiz sources says, "I'm
sorry, but censorware does not work at all. It just doesn't.
There are a million ways to get around it."
OK, this source is 14 years old, so what does he know? ;-)
While screening censorware may be a keystone cybercop, PICS
could be a censor's best friend. PICS (Platform for Internet
Content Selection) is an HTML site labeling standard that allows
individual users, Internet Service Providers and even whole
countries to suppress site content by scanning invisible tags
which identify what type of content the site contains.
According to Lawrence Lessig, a professor at the University of
Chicago Law School, PICS "will have a devastating effect on free
speech all over the world." Writing in the July, 1997 issue of
Wired magazine, Professor Lessig calls PICS "an extremely
versatile and robust censorship tool - not just for parents who
want to protect their kids, but for censors of any sort. PICS
will make it easier for countries like China or Singapore to
'clean up' the Net; it makes it easier for companies to control
what their employees can see; it makes it easier for libraries
or schools to prevent patrons from viewing controversial sites."
Sinister? Perhaps - until some enterprising cyberfreek hacks a
workaround (which should take about 45 minutes).
Those of us who websurf for a living and, when we're not on the
clock, websurf for giggles, know that, while cyberporn exists,
it does not just ooze out of the internet on its own. As the
Supreme Court stated in its CDA decision, "the 'odds are slim'
that a user would enter a sexually explicit site by accident."
By the time a teenager has figured out how to access smut in
cyberspace, the same teenager has probably accessed more than a
few dirty pictures in meatspace, too.
But from the way some opponents characterize the ruling, you
would think that the Supreme Court told pornographers that they
can open their doors to children on the internet. For example,
here is the opening sentence of a press release from the Family
Research Council: "Today's ruling means that pornographers can
open their doors to children on the Internet."
In fact, there is a perfectly good CDA II already on the books.
47 USCA 223(a) provides in pertinent part:
"Whoever (1) in interstate or foreign communications..., by
means of a telecommunications device knowingly (i) makes,
creates, or solicits, and (ii) initiates the transmission of,
any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other
communication which is obscene [words deleted], knowing that the
recipient of the communication is under 18 years of age,
regardless of whether the maker of such communication placed the
call or initiated the communication; .... [or] (2) knowingly
permits any telecommunications facility under his control to be
used for any activity prohibited by paragraph (1) with the
intent that it be used for such activity, shall be fined under
Title 18, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
Recognize this law? It's part of the Communications Decency Act
with the words "or indecent" deleted by order of the Supreme
Court. In its decision, the Supreme Court stated, "Appellees do
not challenge the application of the statute to obscene speech,
which, they acknowledge, can be banned because it enjoys no
First Amendment protection.... Therefore, we will sever the term
"or indecent" from the statute, leaving the rest of Section
223(a) standing." That's hardly letting pornographers "open
their doors to children on the internet."
The word "obscene" has a judicially-defined meaning. The word
"indecent" has no set legal meaning, either by statutory
definition or by court precedent.
The vagueness of regulating indecency, Justice Stevens writes,
"raises special First Amendment concerns because of its obvious
chilling effect on free speech". With a potential penalty of
two years in jail and a hefty fine, the CDA could have silenced
even such speech as "a serious discussion about birth control
practices" for fear that a minor might log on to the discussion
and some prosecutor might find it indecent.
The Supreme Court's historic decision makes a another
content-based CDA unlikely. Most policy-makers within the
Administration, and many members of Congress, have given up the
notion of directly regulating internet indecency.
Unfortunately, these same political leaders are now falling over
themselves in a rush to promote the use of screening software
and website labeling.
Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) has filed a "Parental
Empowerment Through Marketplace Solutions" Bill (h.r. 1964, sec.
103) which would mandate that ISP's offer screening software to
their customers "either at no charge or for a fee that does not
exceed the cost of such software to such provider." Senator
Patty Murray (D-WA) says that she will introduce a "Childsafe
Internet Act" which would give every parent with a computer
"access to filtering software" and make it a crime to mis-rate
web sites or "steal sites previously rated as childsafe". Other
lawmakers are proposing similar bills, while the White House
continues to call for a so-called V-chip for the internet.
This time let's hope cooler heads prevail. And if Congress
holds hearings on these ill-advised proposals, something they
never did before passing the CDA, let's *help* cooler heads
prevail by pointing out the limits and dangers of the proposals.
Screening software and site labeling are ideas whose time has
come - and gone.
WE ARE WINNING
The Supreme Court is not the only Court that has been busy
protecting free speech on the internet.
On June 20, 1997, the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, in American Library Association
v. Pataki (Docket #97 Civ. 0222 - LAP), enjoined New York State
from enforcing its own CDA, calling it "an unconstitutional
intrusion into interstate commerce" because the "unique nature
of the Internet highlights the likelihood that a single actor
might be subject to haphazard, uncoordinated, and even outright
inconsistent regulation" by the 50 states.
Judge Loretta Preska stated in her decision, "Typically, states'
jurisdictional limits are related to geography; geography,
however, is a virtually meaningless construct on the Internet."
Judge Preska's decision includes a detailed discussion of how
packet switches and caches apply to interstate commerce and
refers to the "marvels" of the internet. Clearly, Judge Preska
*got it* about the net.
On the same day, United States District Court for the Northern
District of Georgia, in American Civil Liberties Union of
Georgia v. Miller (Docket #1:96-cv-2475-MHS), enjoined the state
of Georgia from enforcing a law which would have made it a crime
to use a pseudonym as an internet screen name or to use a
trademark logo as a web link.
Holding that the Plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits
by proving "that the statute imposes content-based restrictions
which are not narrowly tailored to achieve the state's purported
compelling interest" and "that the statute is overbroad and void
for vagueness", Judge Marvin Shoob supported the internet in
granting the Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction.
Judge Shoob, too, *got it* about the net.
*** Heads-Up Bookmark: The full texts of the New York, Georgia
and Supreme Court internet law decisions are available online at
Anyone who has ever stood up in a Courtroom and announced,
"Ready to proceed, Your Honor", knows how much hard work goes
before those words. Internet Law Heads-Up congratulates the
lawyers and staff people, including some of my readers, who
devoted so much energy to achieving victory in these cases.
Yes, we are winning.
We can pat ourselves on the back now. But, as Brock Meeks
wrote on the day after the Supreme Court's CDA decision, "Just
as soon as everyone is finished patting themselves on the back
they should just as quickly give themselves a swift kick in the
ass because if you think the court's decision brings an end to
this issue, you're sorely misguided. There's a hell of a lot of
work still ahead."
What's your response? I look forward to hearing from you at
firstname.lastname@example.org. And I look forward to corresponding
with you again soon.
Les Black, Attorney-at-Law
Publisher, Internet Law Heads-Up &
Les Black's Internet Publishing Legal Alert
Voice: (508) 544-3941
Fax: (508) 544-3995
Warwick, Massachusetts, USA
THE FINE PRINT.
Internet Law Heads-Up welcomes your comments, questions, rants,
raves and concurring or dissenting opinions. Please e-mail them
All original material in Internet Law Heads-Up is copyright 1997
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Date: Sun, 6 Jul 1997 15:37:14 +0000
From: David Smith <email@example.com>
Subject: File 2--(fwd) Porn and the Liability of Internet Providers
This is from the July 1997 issue of the Ethical Spectacle
Porn and the Liability of Internet Providers
by Jonathan Wallace and Mark Mangan
In late 1995, Bentley Ives, a manager for the U.S. Postal Service, had
a great new idea for an Internet business: a service specializing in
finding free smut. By December he had incorporated WebbWorld and,
employing the help of two associates to handle the technical and
administrative duties, set up the Netpics website. The three created
no original content, but rather trolled the open channels of Internet
newsgroups looking for pornographic pictures--pulling down nearly 6
thousand a day--and making them available to subscribers for $12 a
In June 1996 a California man tipped off the Fort Worth police and
about debased porn peddlers in their midst who were distributing
obscenity to the world. Perhaps a smut competitor himself or maybe
just a worried citizen who didn't like the service he had subscribed
to, the man gave the authorities the web address, www.netpics.com, and
a password to access it.
In mid February of 1997, the Fort Worth Vice Squad came looking for
Ives. They searched his office seized his computer and arrested him
for distributing obscenity and child pornography. After an eight month
investigation the police found its fill of sexual images depicting
groups, gays, lesbians, boys, girls, porn stars and senior citizens.
They were looking for obscenity; however, among the nearly 1.5 million
pictures that passed through the Netpics servers during this time,
they also found some child pornography. After consulting a doctor at
Cook Children's Medical Center they deemed four images to involve
children under 15 and another of a girl under 11.
Looking around the sparse office, the Police demanded to know where
the big computer equipment was. Ives led them to the new office in
Dallas, where he had recently moved to share space with the Internet
service which provided Webbworld with access to the Net through its
fat T3 feed. With the cooperation of the Dallas police, they arrived
at the second office and cleaned out the place--seizing all 16 servers
and more than a thousand pieces of computer equipment. According to
the Netpics principals in an exclusive interview with Gene Crick of
the Texas Telecommunications Journal, the police showed no discretion,
taking "routers, monitors, software, data records and everything...
desk, chair... they even took the pencils...."
Ives was released on $52,500 bail after being arraigned on obscenity
and child pornography charges. Between the two charges, one a
midemeanor, the other a third degree felony, he faces up to 12 years
in a state penitentary and up to $20,000 in fines. A couple months
later the police caught up with the other two Netpics principals:
Benjamin Brian Ellis and James Lewis Gurkin, III.
Gurkin is a 31 year old owner of a security guard business and handled
the payroll, bookkeeping, and other administrative duties, receiving
25% of the profits. Ellis, a 27 year old computer consultant, was the
technical genius behind the company and received 50% of the profits.
Ellis set up the servers, configured the systems and developed what
Lieutenant Reflogal of the Fort Worth Police called an "outstanding
program"--a piece of code that trolled the Usenet groups that carried
pornographic images, downloaded the pictures, then uploaded them to
their webservers, placing them in particular categories depending
where they were found.
Usenet is the name of a portion of the Internet which is essentially a
conglomeration of electronic bulletin boards, most of which are
unmoderated. Allowing users to anonymously post content, it represents
a free-wheeling global discussion, broken up into thousands of
different subjects. For those that want to discuss programming
languages there are groups like comp.lang; for those that want to talk
about cars there are groups like alt.autos and rec.autos; and for
those that like to look at porn pictures, there's alt.sex.pictures,
There is no centralized control of Usenet. A message that is posted to
alt.autos, for instance, is sent from server to server around the
world and copied to all those which subscribe to this newsgroup.
Anyone with an Internet connection and a newsgroup reader can freely
sift through any and all newsgroups to which his Internet provider
With about 14 thousand newsgroups out there passing around terabytes
of information daily, Ives decided to make a service that made finding
porn in this global soup of information easy. Netpics also offered
other services, such as email, web development and secure transaction
services; however, the bread and butter for the company was smut.
Plugging into an existing Internet Access Provider and configuring
servers to subscribe to about 175 newsgroups devoted to porn, the
tits, ass, penis, and vagina images started pouring in.
Evidently aware that there were laws against obscenity and child
pornography, the Netpics people announced on the site that "we do make
an effort to keep illegal pictures out of our selection." But with
over ten thousand new pictures floating through these groups every day
and as many as 6,000 being added to the site, they were clearly not
able to see every porn picture that passed through their servers, hard
as they may have tried. At any one time Netpics had about 70,000
pictures on its site, with images being sloughed off the servers every
3 to 4 days.
The charges of obscenity and child pornography require that the
offender "knowingly and willingly" possesses or distributes the
material. In contrast, the Netpics principals argue that they never
created any of the images that existed on the newsgroups, that they
did not subscribe to the groups that were known to carry child porn,
and that they actively sifted through pictures 3-4 hours a day looking
for potentially illegal material. In the interview with Gene Crick the
Netpics collective said, "we offered only the same Usenet lists and
contents available on thousands of Internet servers around the world.
And while we featured adult-oriented newsgroups, we took exhaustive
measures to eliminate any content we felt might even resemble child
Lieutenant Reflogal, formerly of the vice squad that conducted the
investigation, says there was no doubt about what was on the
newsgroups from which they were downloading, pointing out that one in
particular had the words "teen fuck" in its address. "To me," he said,
"'teen fuck' is pretty evident of what kind of pictures you're going
to be getting." He added that the fact that they found child porn
changed the nature of the charges brought, but not the vigor of the
investigation: they were looking for obscenity.
Netpics trafficked in obscenity, by almost any local community
standard. The kinds of images which course through the more hardcore
Usenet forums involve extreme sexual situations, portraying anal sex,
oral sex, explicit penetration, dildos, orgies, and all kinds of
deviant sexual activity.
In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court defined the term obscenity with a
simple, subjective three-prong test, which said that the material must
appeal to the prurient interest (turn you on), be patently offensive
(gross you out), and be devoid of any scientific, artistic, literary,
or political value--all this according to local community standards.
Barring the local communities of 42nd Street, Manhattan and the
neon-lit Las Vegas strips, it is a fair assumption to say that the
more hardcore newsgroups on the Internet are obscene. So, in a sense,
Sprint, MCI, AT&T, and all access providers which carry these
newsgroups and allow these pictures to pass through their servers are
as guilty as Ives.
The fundamental question arising from this case is, what is the
liability of Internet Service Providers? In the distributed world of
the Internet, who is responsible for illegal material that is
anonymously posted and passed around from computer to computer in
massive streams of neverending data? Obscenity and child pornography
are not the only kinds of material that present such problems. If
chapter after chapter of Grisham's latest novel started appearing on
newsgroups, could each and every ISP which which carried these
newsgroups be held liable for copyright infringement?
The Texas events must be viewed against a backdrop of current legal
actions, threatened and real, against Internet service providers.
Though Netpics was an attractive legal target for the prosecutor
because it specialized in sex-related newsgroups, the acts its
principals are accused of committing consist merely of having made
these newsgroups available to users--the same "crime" committed by
numerous other service providers, including large commercial ventures,
small local companies, and universities.
The responsibility of an online information provider for illegal
information transmitted across its service by a third party is still
heavily debated, though it appeared to be pretty well settled by a
1980's case, Cubby v. Compuserve. The plaintiff claimed that he had
been libelled by false statements posted to a Compuserve forum by an
anonymous user and sued Compuserve. In dismissing the case against
Compuserve, a federal judge reached back more than thirty years to a
Supreme Court case involving a bookstore owner. In that case, Smith v.
California, the high court had ruled that the owner of a bookstore
could not be held responsible for knowing the contents of every book
in the store. Thus, he could not be convicted for selling illegal
material unless there was actual proof he knew it was there in his
store. Similarly, the plaintiff could not hold Compuserve responsible
for the libel without first putting them on notice that the offending
statement was there.
Though now an ancient case in terms of the fast-moving world of the
Internet, Cubby has been cited approvingly by most courts and
commentators that have dealt with similar issues since, and there is
little doubt that it has been generally adopted as the right rule for
the Internet. All it actually requires is that a party--whether a
prosecutor or a private plaintiff--complaining about material made
available via an ISP put the service on notice of the objectionable
material. If the service fails to act, the Cubby rule has been
satisfied, and the complaining party is free to take action. If the
complaining party fails to issue a warning, in any lawsuit or
prosecution it later brings it will have the very tough--in many
cases, insurmountable--task of showing that the defendant was
personally aware of the objectionable material.
The Texas prosecutor may possibly make use of an exception to Cubby,
which derives from another online case called Stratton Oakmont v.
Prodigy. This much-criticized case also involved a lawsuit for libel
as a result of remarks posted on the Prodigy service. While endorsing
the Cubby case, the Prodigy judge came to a different conclusion.
Though the plaintiff here had failed to put Prodigy on notice before
bringing the lawsuit, the judge let the case continue anyway because
Prodigy had advertised itself as a family-freindly service in which
user messages were carefully screened for illegal content. The Prodigy
decision has been criticized for an illogical, even anti-social
conclusion: if you attempt to keep your service clean and fail, you
are in a worse legal position than if you do absolutely nothing. Most
commentators agree that Prodigy is bad law--but the prosecutor may
argue that the Netpics defendants should be convicted because they
claimed to screen out all child porn from their service and failed to
Similar events involving ISP's are taking place on the international
stage which are related to the Netpics case. Germany has just indicted
a local Compuserve manager for distributing obscene material because
Compuserve, as an ISP, grants access to the alt.sex newsgroups. Here,
the facts more clearly support the defendants than in the Netpics
case, as the German government cannot even make the claim that
Compuserve pushed this material or encouraged users to concentrate on
Gene Crick, who also sits on the board of Electronic Frontiers Austin,
has been watching the Netpics case carefully. "Conviction in this case
could shut down the Usenet; the images being prosecuted were also
stored on other feed servers around the world. This means every Usenet
provider could become an appealing target for political grandstanders
and hungry tort lawyers," Crick says.
Shutting down porn operations are very visible, politically popular
cases for righteous minded law enforcement agencies. In shutting down
Netpics, the Fort Worth police acted with broad strokes that may have
violated certain Fourth Amendment protections concerning proper search
and seizure; they also seemed to have created some jurisdictional
entanglements as they stepped into Dallas to make the arrest. As of
now, the members of Netpics have not yet been indicted and the police
have said they would not seek action against any of the subscribers.
If they do decide to carry through and prosecute, this could become a
seminal case. If not, the police have still achieved their real
goal--shutting down the Netpics servers.
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 21:49:06 -0400 (EDT)
From: Keith Dreibelbis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: File 3--Green Card Spammer Laurence Canter Disbarred in Tennessee
((MODERATORS' NOTE: We called the Board of Professional
Responsibility in Tennessee today (615-361-7500) and confirmed
that the press release is authentic. We were also told by the
person involved in handling the case that Canter is now divorced
from Martha Siegel and currently living in California.
For those who've forgotten, Canter and Siegel were the infamous
"Green Card" spammers who wrote an in-your-face book defending
spamming as a way to make your fortune on the Internet. For more
details, see CUD 7.50 (1975).))
Date--9 Jul 1997 03:19:32 GMT
From--"David E. Fox" <email@example.com>
Due to popular demand (well, an email from Ron Newman - I guess that
counts as popular demand) ;) I've been asked to post the verbatim
Actually, I got two letters - one that just says that the investigation
concluded in a disbarment, and says that my cooperation and interest
in assisting the legal profession is appreciated.
The other one is the press release; that's the one I'm typing in.
Contact: William W. Hunt, III
[Tennessee] Board of Professional Responsibility
June 16, 1997
Arizona Attorney Disbarred
On June 5, 1997, The Supreme Court of Tennessee entered an order
disbarring Laurence A. Canter with law offices in Scottsdale,
Arizona; Cupertino and San Rafael, California, but licensed to
practice law in Tennessee. Mr. Canter also received a one year
suspension to be served concurrently with a disbarment. This
order was based on a recommendation of a hearing panel after a
hearing in this case.
Mr. Canter was fould guilty of numerous offenses of the
Attorneys' Code of Professional Responsibility (Rule 8, Rules of
the Supreme Court of Tennessee). In 1994 in an incident reported
in the national media he placed an advertisement that appeared on
more than 5,000 of the Internet's news groups as well as 10,000
of E-Mail lists. The posting appeared on computer screens
unsolicited and each reader was required to read at least a
portion of the message. The hearing panel found that the posting
violated Tennessee's advertising rules DR 2-101 and was an
improper intrusion into the recipient's privacy violating
Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(1)(5)(6).
Mr. Canter also represented Mr. Shafgul Islam in an immigration
matter. Mr. Canter failed to adequately communicate with Mr.
Islam, charged Mr. Islam an improper non-refundable retainer,
failed to return Mr. Islam his file and improperly demanded Mr.
Islam provide him a "full release."
Mr. Canter was also hired by Mr. A. M. Jaffee relative to an
incorporation of a business and two immigration matters. Mr.
Canter Failed to adequately communicate with his client,
neglected his client's matters and mis-appropriated $350 he held
in trust for his client.
In a fourth matter, Mr. Canter withheld funds from the paycheck
of an employee Sandra Colvis to pay taxes and health insurance
premiums, misappropriated funds to his own use and failed to pay
them to the proper authorities. The paychecks made out to Ms.
Colvis were also returned for insufficient funds.
Date: 10 Jul 1997 02:48:17 -0700
From: Russ Allbery <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: File 4--Star Wars, Fanfiction, and Big Eight Newsgroup Creation
The policy of the current Big Eight newsgroup creation system on
newsgroups devoted to fanfiction has recently been criticized
here. (The Big Eight are the comp, humanities, misc, news, rec,
sci, soc, and talk hierarchies.) Here's what that policy actually
is and a little background on the reason for it.
First of all, please realize that the Big Eight is not all of
Usenet. It is just eight specific Usenet hierarchies; there are
many, *many* more. Each hierarchy is created for a different
purpose and has a different set of rules for creating new groups
in that hierarchy.
A major goal of the Big Eight is to provide a relatively small set
of widely useful newsgroups that are maintained by a central
newsgroup creation system. Ideally, every system carrying the Big
Eight will have precisely the same set of newsgroups; solid
propagation and consistency across different news servers are the
major feature of this sort of approach to newsgroup creation.
Obviously this procedure does *not* work for all topics, given
that a voting procedure is involved (and therefore the possibility
of a group being voted down for political reasons exists) and
given that news administrators may not want certain types of
groups created automatically without their review. This is
precisely why alt.* was created originally; alt.* has a wide-open
creation policy and therefore is home to the sorts of groups that
couldn't be created in the Big Eight for whatever reason. (The
tradeoff, of course, being that alt.* groups are often subject to
manual review at each site and tend to be much less consistent
across different news sites.)
Now, about the proposed Star Wars stories group. Fanfiction
(fiction using trademarked or copyrighted characters and
backgrounds without the permission of the owners) has always been
of questionable legality and subject to the occasional lawsuit in
the United States and elsewhere. Due to the way intellectual
property laws work in the United States, fanfiction *may* be
illegal and if a news site is knowingly carrying a newsgroup
devoted solely to fanfiction, it *may* be possible to sue them as
well as the authors for the violation.
No, it's probably not very *likely* that a news site would be
sued. But this *has* been an often-stated concern by news
administrators in the past.
Keep in mind the purpose of the Big Eight, namely to create a set
of useful newsgroups that can be created automatically at all the
subscribing sites. Due to this *possible* legal concern, a large
number of news administrators do not want newsgroups devoted to
fanfiction automatically created on their news servers, and
therefore would not be able to just let the Big Eight newsgroup
creation process run automatically on their servers if the Big
Eight includes those groups. This directly hurts one of the
primary purposes of the hierarchies. Therefore, newsgroups which
are devoted to fanfiction are against the rules of the Big Eight
unless the proponent can show reasonable evidence that the groups
would not cause a legal problem.
Some proponents do in fact do precisely that.
rec.arts.anime.creative exists because anime and manga companies
do not, as a matter of general policy, prosecute fanfiction, so
the legal concern is minimal. rec.arts.comics.creative exists
because its charter requires that stories posted there use
original characters. Other groups have been proposed with no
problems before because they would have been for parody. The
proponents of the Star Wars group were considering changing their
charter to require parody or original characters and background,
which would make the group fine under those rules.
If a group can't fit under those rules, it most certainly isn't
censored. It simply needs to be created in a different hierarchy
that has looser rules, such as alt.*. People create fanfiction
groups in alt.* routinely and some of them are quite successful.
Also, please note that no *post* is refused. The newsgroup
creation system has nothing to do with individual posts; it has to
do with newsgroups. One can post pretty much anything one wishes
to any unmoderated group, and the newsgroup creation system
doesn't affect that in the slightest. The only thing this policy
affects is whether a newsgroup devoted to fanfiction can be
created in this particular set of hierarchies.
Finally, this policy obviously doesn't affect discussion,
including discussion of fanfiction, as should be obvious from the
five existing discussion groups devoted to Star Wars. Discussion
of fanfiction is certainly on-topic in rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc
and absolutely nothing prevents it from being posted there.
Hopefully this clarifies the situation somewhat. This policy,
just like all other Big Eight newsgroup creation policies, tends
to get discussed periodically on news.groups, and anyone with
questions or concerns about it is certainly welcome to raise the
issue there or contact me directly.
Russ Allbery (email@example.com) <URL:http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 23:48:58 -0500
From: jthomas@SUN.SOCI.NIU.EDU(Jim Thomas)
Subject: File 5--U.S. Justice Dept. Investigating Network Solutions
Source - The New York Times, 7 July '97
U.S. Justice Dept. Investigating Network Solutions
By AGIS SALPUKAS
The Justice Department has begun an investigation into the
practice of assigning Internet addresses to determine if the
control that Network Solutions Inc. exercises over the process
amounts to a violation of antitrust laws.
The investigation was disclosed by the company Thursday in
documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The
filing came as part of a proposed initial stock offering that is
intended to raise $35 million.
The investigation was first reported in The Washington Post on
Network Solutions, which is based in Herndon, Va., and is a
subsidiary of Science Applications International Corp., has been
the target of a growing chorus of complaints and two dozen
lawsuits as the Internet has expanded and the competition for
these addresses, or domain names, has grown more intense.
Network Solutions Inc.
Securities and Exchange Commission
The Washington Post
Science Applications International Corp.
National Science Foundation
Copyright 1997 The New York Times
Date: Thu, 7 May 1997 22:51:01 CST
From: CuD Moderators <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: File 6--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 7 May, 1997)
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