Internet Laws (Federal)


Child Online Protection Act

Also Known As: COPA, CDAII (Communications Decency Act)

Issues: According to ALA’s website, COPA does not directly affect libraries as it only addresses material sent over the Internet for commercial purposes. “COPA prohibits the transmission of any material over the Internet deembed “harmful to minors,” if the communication was made for commercial purpose.”

Additional Resources

ALA’s: CPPA, COPA, CIPA: Which Is Which? http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=Related_Links6&;Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=28177

Signed to Law: President Clinton

Became Law: October 1998

Brief Overview:


Child Pornography

Public Law: 18 U.S.C. 2256

Issues: (8) “child pornography” means any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where—(A) the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; (B) such visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or (C) such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

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Children’s Internet Protection

Public Law: PL 106-554

Also Known As: CIPA Childrens’ Internet Protection Act

Issues: Public Libraries and/or Schools who receive one or more of the following forms of funding must have in place a Technology Protection Measure [Filter]: E-Rate discounts for “Internet access, Internet service, or internal connections” LSTA [Library Services and Technology Act] Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to purchase computers used for Internet access or to pay for Internet access itself.

Affects: Schools or libraries receiving discounts from the E-rate program and/or funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) for services as outlined within the Children’s Internet Protection Act.

Signed to Law: President Clinton

Became Law: April 20, 2001

Brief Overview:


Harmful to Minors

Public Law: Title XVII Childrens Internet Pr

Also Known As: Title XVII Childrens Internet Protection – Section 1702, (2) Harmful to minors

Issues: “any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that (i) taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex or excretion; (ii) depicts, describes, or represents, in a patenly offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated normal or perverted sexcual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals; and (iii) taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors.”

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Minors – Federal Definition [As per CIPA Guidelines]

Public Law: As per CIPA Guidelines

Issues: CIPA – Title XVII – Section 5, item D An individual who has not attained the age of 17.

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Neighborhood Children’s Internet Protection Act

Public Law: PL 106-554

Also Known As: NCIPA

Issues: FROM ALA’s Web Site: “July 1, 2002, was the deadline for complying with the Neighborhood Children’s Internet Protection Act (NCIPA) for those libraries receiving 2002 E-rate discounts for Internet access or internal connections.” “The three-judge panel from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania declared in their opinion that the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is unconstitutional with respect to public libraries. This does not remove NCIPA as a requirement for public libraries participating in the E-rate program.”

Affects: Applies only to schools or libraries receiving E-rate discounts for internal connections or Internet access.

Signed to Law: President Clinton

Became Law: April 20, 2001

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Obscenity-Indecency & Profanity

Public Law: 18 U.S.C. 1460 et seq

Additional Resources

The federal obscenity statute does not itself contain an express definition of obscenity.

SEE MILLER v. CALIFORNIA, 413 U.S. 15 (1973)  

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Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003

Public Law: PL 108-21

Also Known As: Protect Act

Issues: To prevent child abduction and the sexual exploitation of children, and for other purposes. Child Obscenity and Pornography Prevention, Misleading domain names on the Internet, AMBER Alert and others.

Signed to Law: President Bush

Became Law: April 2003

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USA PATRIOT ACT OF 2001

Public Law: Public Law 107-56

Also Known As: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001

Additional Resources

NPR: Debating the Patriot Act http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4759727&;sourceCode=gaw

Electronic Privacy Information Center http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/usapatriot/default.html

Bill of Rights Defense Committee http://www.bordc.org/

Signed to Law: George W. Bush

Became Law: October 26, 2001

Brief Overview:

“To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.”

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