Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Judge narrows Michigan "display law": Newsarama reports that a Michigan District Court judge has dismissed a challenge to the state's new "display law," but in the process has narrowed the statute's application by clarifying the definition of "harmful to minors":
The First Amendment analysis portion of the decision explicitly states that work with clear literary and education merit, even sexual manuals such as Joy of Sex are not harmful under the law because, "those works [Joy of Sex, Lolita, Of Mice and Men, The Catcher in the Rye, Portnoy’s Complaint, and Sanctuary] clearly have literary and educational merit for minors." Comics with comparable content are also not harmful under this law.

The decision also clarifies the potentially ambiguous display provisions in the statute, noting that material must be blinded only if "harmful to minors" material appears on the covers or bindings of books, comics, or magazines.
The ruling means a retailer won't be liable if a minor happens to browse through "harmful" materials, as long as the bookseller takes steps to stop it once he's made aware of the situation.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has issued a statement about the decision.