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Monday, June 27, 2011

US Supreme Court Overturns California Law restricting sales of violent viode games to children

When laws in the US are measured against the US Constitutional rights, the rights they seek to restrict are weighted. One of the most compelling involves First Amendment freedom of speech infringements.

While laypeople think of speech as verbal communications, speech includes any communication of ideas in any medium. And “the basic principles of freedom of speech . . . do not vary” with a new and different communication medium. Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, 343 U. S. 495, 503. The First Amendment applies as much to violent video games as to a published book.

In the Brown vs Entertainment Merchant Association, et al., decision issued today, the US Supreme Court reminded legislators that “government lacks the power to restrict expression because of its message, ideas, subject matter, or content” with the “limited exceptions of historically unprotected” classes of speech, such as obscenity, fighting words and incitement.

They warned that the legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech just because the social costs outweigh the social benefits of that expression. (Citing to US vs. Stevens, 559 U.S. ___) They were careful to distinguish the Ginsberg v. New York case (390 U. S. 629, upholding the harmful to minors standard for sexual content) as a mere critical application of laws designed for adults being adjusted for the protection of minors.

The California law proposed to create an entirely new category of content-based unprotected speech. Looking to history, the Supreme Court could find no basis for restricting a minor’s access to depictions of violence. They found the state’s arguments that the interactive nature of the violence created a special case unpersuasive.

In order for the California law to legally restrict a minor’s access to violent video games, given its inherent intrusion on freedom of expression and access to content, it would have to pass the “strict scrutiny” test – a justified compelling government interest and a narrowly-drawn restriction. (Citing R. A. V. v. St. Paul, 505 U. S. 377, 395)

The Court also reviewed the studies submitted both in support of and against the restriction of violent video game content and found that nothing proved that minors exposed to violent video games were more aggressive in their real life interactions. The state claimed that it was also representing the interest of parents in wanting to restrict their childrens’ access to violent video games. The Court did not believe that parents needed or would want such “protection,” and noted that some parents have no problem with their childrens’ use of violent video games.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ciudadanía Digital. Celebrado con éxito el I Congreso Internacional - PantallasAmigas : Por un uso seguro y saludable de Internet, la telefonía móvil y los videojuegos - Por una ciudadanía digital responsable

Ciudadanía Digital. Celebrado con éxito el I Congreso Internacional - PantallasAmigas : Por un uso seguro y saludable de Internet, la telefonía móvil y los videojuegos - Por una ciudadanía digital responsable

I met a real hero and she changed my life

I met a real hero and she changed my life

Friday, June 17, 2011

To Monitor UGC or Not Monitor UGC, that is the question....

The most relevant laws for companies with a US online presence that collect and publish user generated content are the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Before the DMCA, there was a strong argument for holding companies legally responsible for the vicarious copyright infringement of its users because the company technically facilitated the infringement and posted the content for the public to access.

Recognizing that companies could not realistically police their sites for copyrighted content, the DMCA shifted the burden of identifying infringement to the rights' holders. However, companies only escape liability and gain protection by the safe harbor provision if they comply with a strict set of guidelines or have not actual knowledge of the infringement. (Companies must post instructions for rights holders to submit DMCA takedown notifications and timely follow through with all requests.)

The CDA, on the other hand, allows and encourages companies to proactively moderate their sites without fear that they will open themselves up to unlimited liability in the event they miss something or fail to take action.

In addition, under the US safe harbor for the hosting of child pornography, if the company becomes aware of the images or video that violate the child pornography laws in the US, it is not liable as long as it reports the images/video to the cybertipline and follows their instructions for managing that content.

None of these laws require moderation or that the network screen for copyright violations, child pornography or abuses. But in the case of the CDA, actual knowledge of the problem does not add liability. They may take action, take partial action or do nothing and see avail themselves of the CDA immunity provisions.

Under both the safe harbors for copyright infringement and the hosting of child pornography, actual knowledge requires remediative action. Failure to do so can lead to the network being charged for its failure to respond in accordance with the law.

One common solution is to only search for infringement of your own brand and risk management issues (such as threats and hate speech). If you avoid searching for the trademarks of third parties you will not have actual knowledge of their use and the responsibility to take action that comes along with that knowledge. It is also worth discussing the option of searching for intellectual property violations of your partners’ and advertisers’ names to demonstrate that you care about their brands as well as your own.

Sticking your network's head in the sand may look like the best way to do when it comes to mediating content and conduct on your sites/networks. But, if you have a brand name to protect or advertisers who want theirs protected, you have no choice. Just be careful how your systems aredesigned and your moderators trained. Looking for the needle you want in the haystack of social media and UGC isn't hard with the right tools. Use them.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

NY Court rules that false allegations of homosexuality are defamatory.

New York Judge just held that false allegations of sexual preference, where a man was accused of being “gay,” are defamatory under NY law. What does this mean? It means that a frequent tactic in cyberharassment (of adults) and cyberbullying (of minors), where the bully/harasser makes allegations of sexual preference – “You’re gay!” “He’s gay!” She’s a lesbian!”- can be grounds for a defamation lawsuit in NY if the allegations are false.

This matches recognized “defamation per se” law in the US, where sexual promiscuity allegations (if false) are grounds for a defamation law suit. “Defamation per se” means that everyone recognizes how serious a false allegation of sexual promiscuity can be to your reputation. Because of this, you don’t have to prove the monetary loss related to the damage to your reputation.

Generally sexual preference allegations, whether true or not, are designed to hurt the target. If target is gay, lesbian, bi or trans-sexual, they are designed to either “out” them, humiliate or exclude them. If they aren’t, it’s designed to start rumors, target them for exclusion, hate attacks or drive potential romantic interests away.

While this provides straight teens and adults grounds for a defamation lawsuit, it sadly, also means that allegations of gay, lesbian, bi or trans-sexual preferences are considered very damaging to your reputation, generally. This speaks to ongoing bias among the general population, as reflected in the law.

One step forward, another step back.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Parry's Blog and Podcast - the Megan Meier cyberbullying law!!!

Parry's Blog and Podcast

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Give them KidZui this Christmas

Give them KidZui this Christmas

Monday, December 01, 2008

McAfee Security Insights Blog » Get Free Online Shopping Advice from Experts on December 4

Join Parry at a fun and informative webinar. (And find out where she shops online :-))McAfee Security Insights Blog » Get Free Online Shopping Advice from Experts on December 4