ABFFE Welcomes Ohio Supreme Court Ruling

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) welcomed a ruling on Wednesday by the Ohio Supreme Court that booksellers and other owners of "generally accessible" websites cannot be prosecuted under an Ohio law that makes it a crime to electronically disseminate to minors material that is "obscene or harmful."

In 2002, ABFFE joined the Association of American Publishers, the Freedom to Read Foundation, and other members of Media Coalition in challenging the law, because it could have banned booksellers and others from posting jacket covers and book excerpts that are not legally obscene and are therefore protected by the First Amendment.

"The Ohio Supreme Court has taken an important step toward narrowing the law in a way that protects free speech, but we still have concerns," said ABFFE President Chris Finan.

The challenge to the Ohio law is currently before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. It was the Sixth Circuit that asked the Ohio Supreme Court to interpret the meaning of the law. The case will now return to the appeals court, which will determine its constitutionality. Among the issues left to be resolved is whether newspaper and other websites that charge for content or otherwise limit access might be subject to prosecution.