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Massachusetts Censorship Law Gets Preliminary Injunction

Quarter of Massachusetts

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U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel has issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of Massachusetts Chapter 74 of the Acts of 2010, which went into effect earlier this year.  The law, signed by Governor Deval Patrick in in April (and went into affect in June), targets anyone who runs a website or listserv that contains nudity or sexually explicit material that could be construed as “harmful to minors” and subjects them to possible fines of up to $10,000, up to five years in prison, or both.

The Massachusetts booksellers, trade associations including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts filed suit in July to block the law.  They cited that his law would “imposes severe restrictions on constitutionally protected speech on the Internet.”

The judge issued the injunction because the law does not require that the “indecent material” was purposefully sent to a person the sender knew to be a minor.

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, had this to say:

This case is a reminder that we need to remain ever-vigilant in the defense of basic civil liberties against lawmakers who try to capitalize on cases involving children to expand government power in ways that could be used to silence booksellers, artists, healthcare providers, and the rest of us.

Plaintiffs in the case include the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ACLU, Harvard Book Store, the Photographic Resource Center, Porter Square Books, and marriage and family therapist Martry Klein.

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