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Chapter 7
Exporting the First Amendment

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

ultimately destroyed Hydra by cauterizing its stumps and severing the immortal head from its body. The Internet, too, could be killed, or a nation can choose to allow access on a restricted basis. Yet, the more a nation pursues a restrictive Internet policy, the less value it will derive from the network and the more it risks being left out of the information revolution.[20]


When, in July 1996, the Net rejoiced over the CDA's defeat in court, it may have cheered too soon: federal legislation typically inspires a wave of similar legislation at the state level. According to the EFF, a number of states, including New York, Oregon, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, Montana, and Oklahoma, have now passed or are considering copycat laws.[21] These, too, may eventually be ruled unconstitutional, but it could take some time to get this message across to all fifty states even in the wake of the June 1997 Supreme Court decision. In the meantime, we can look forward to lots of stupid and expensive litigation.[22] Somewhere, one million lawyers may be drooling.


More ideologically, censorship is a quick way to kill the dream of the Net as a clean and shiny new world that can do away with traditional class structures. Censorship automatically creates a class system delineated by access (or lack thereof) to forbidden information. Those with technical skills, the money to buy them, or contacts with those appointed as guardians, can get access; those without can't. The next four chapters examine several such situations, and chapter 13 looks at alternative methods of controlling the free flow of information and the tension between equal access and intellectual property rights.


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