Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


This article presents a study of administrative and statutory schemes designed to regulate various aspects of the media in considering broad questions of indecency, obscenity, and societal and parental controls over content in various forms of media broadcasting. The article then provides an important historical back-drop by referencing Burstyn v. Wilson (a 1950s case involving an alleged "secular sacrilege") and Pacifica Foundation (the George Carlin "Filthy Words" monologue case). It then turns to a discussion of the litigation and controversy spurred by passage of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the Child Online Protection Act of 1998 as the focus of congressional attention turned to regulating the Internet. In this context, the article discusses Reno v. ACLU and American Library Association v. United States, two cases which provided direct challenges to Congressional regulatory responses. This article concludes by noting important international implications of the attempts to place restrictions on the Internet, and offers several tentative conclusions by bringing to the forefront the debate on the use of filtering technology designed to provide controls and supervision over this "new media."