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FYI: Libraries can legally filter the Internet, law review article says

Internet-Filtering Diskussion in amerikanischen Bibliotheken...

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-politech _at__ vorlon.mit.edu
[mailto:owner-politech _at__ vorlon.mit.edu]On Behalf Of Declan McCullagh
Sent: Thursday, July 06, 2000 6:11 PM
To: politech _at__ vorlon.mit.edu
Subject: FC: Libraries can legally filter the Internet, law review
article says

See, as background:

----- Forwarded message from Msnadel _at__ aol.com -----

From: Msnadel _at__ aol.com
Subject: Texas Law Rev. article on Internet Filtering
To: declan _at__ wired.com
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2000 22:43:34 EDT
X-Mailer: AOL 4.0 for Windows 95 sub 107

Just thought that some of those on your list might be interested in my
just published Texas Law Review article

"The First Amendment's Limitations on the Use of Internet Filtering
in Public and School Libraries: What Content Can Librarians Exclude?"

A slightly revised version of it is available at

I've included an abstract of the 40-page piece below
Comments, criticisms, etc. are welcome.

mark nadel


This article asserts that the First Amendment permits libraries to use
private-sector software to filter Internet access as long as the filters do
not attempt to favor one socio-political viewpoint over another.  It
challenges the 1999 federal court's finding in the Loudoun County Library
case that libraries offering Internet access face no economic constraint on
offering unlimited access.  It criticizes that decision as faulty economic
analysis as well as disputing the Loudoun court's public forum analysis.
article contends that librarians may use filters to manage patrons' use of
the library's limited resources to maximize computer terminal availability
for accessing the categories of content chosen by librarians to be in their
collections.  Thus, libraries are free to block access to websites
material outside that scope, including "protected speech," e.g., shopping
services and non-obscene photos advertised as XXX.  Libraries may also use
removable filters to empower parents to diminish their children's access to
adult material.  The article argues, however, that the First Amendment
requires libraries using filters 1) to retain "final say" over selection
decisions, 2) to understand the criteria that the filter uses to exclude
content, and 3) to have the resources to correct the viewpoint
that filters are likely to generate.  Furthermore, it concludes that the
issue of library filtering of Internet access is not so much an issue of
cyberspace law as one of the First Amendment's more general limitations on
librarian discretion in the selection of content.

----- End forwarded message -----

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