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Viewing Files on the Web Considered Possession?

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the only-if-the-site-charges dept.

The Courts 719

Packet Pusher writes "A Georgia lawyer is taking a case to appeals court to prove that the mere act of viewing a website does not constitute possession of the materials that were automatically cached on your hard drive." While the case in question involves pornographic photos, the implications of such a declaration could reach far further.

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Holely Cheese (4, Interesting)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12837991)

What if someone "Save As" illegal images into "Temporary Internet files" folder?

I thought if someone knowingly viewed some illegal images, he should at least have the commonsense of clearing the cache!

Re:Holely Cheese (1)

spikexyz (403776) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838024)

I'm gonna guess a lot of people surfing the web don't know what a cache is nevermind how to clear it.

Re:Holely Cheese (4, Insightful)

timothv (730957) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838026)

I thought if someone knowingly viewed some illegal images, he should at least have the commonsense of clearing the cache!

This technical know-how shouldn't be required to stay clear of law enforcement.

Re:Holely Cheese (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838088)

This technical know-how shouldn't be required to stay clear of law enforcement.

Luckily it isn't. Not breaking the law is required to stay clear of it (NOTE: parent was talking about people KNOWINGLY looking at illegal images. I see knowing how to clear the cache akin to knowing how to clean blood from the floor so it leaves no marks).

Re:Holely Cheese (5, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838165)

Generally, if something you own or that is under your control causes something that results in some form of law-breaking and/or civil problems, you are considered accountable. If your car breaks go out and you hit someone, you're almost certainly going to be considered at fault. Same thing goes for animals under your control, and any number of other examples. In general, you are expected to be knowledgeable enough to control/maintain your possessions, or hire someone who can do so for you. Why should computers be any different?

Furthermore, there's hell raised on Slashdot about how "people should have a license to use their computer" when threads about Microsoft insecurity causing worms to run rampant and cause networking problems...people often rally a call to hold anyone who cannot maintain/patch/protect their machine accountable. Then we come to a thread like this, and you see a number of posts suggesting that it's not their fault if they don't know how to do something on their computer.

Please! At least the precedence of the law is on our side for holding people accountable for their possessions.

Re:Holely Cheese (1)

mbelly (827938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838051)

What about web pages that misdirect someone? "Free iPod" *click* NUDE GRANDMOTHERS!!! "!!" *Alt+F4*

Re:Holely Cheese (1)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838152)

There is a distinction between content being forced on you and actively searching for it.

Re:Holely Cheese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838156)

Or how about this one? [youeatit.com]

EMERGENCY Strapon Lesbian Porno UPDATE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838124)

The scene of great feminine Lesbian ladies fucking eachother with strapon dildos is drying up! I can't find any new and unusual content! Can someone throw us a friggin' boner here? How about some Lesbian strapon domination where a big strong dyke manhandles a little horny honey, or post one of the most erotic sounding video of one going crazy with multiple climax from ascend/descending heat? It must be free, and no goatse!

Here is one update; ~45MB .asf video, that gets hot at the 2/3 mark when they get out the strapon! [sharebigfile.com] If you get an error starting the download, you need to refresh the page to get a new download key. It sucks, but the clip is decent and worth the fudged download mechanism.

Until the on-topc Slashdot topic arrives, be well.
Sincerily,
Dr. Dean aDildo, BS, MSH, WD40

Re:Holely Cheese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838164)

Clearing the cache won't help. If they want you bad enough, they'll pull the deleted files out of unallocated space on the HD.

I hate to defend these guys, who were probably scumbags anyway, but here is the story:
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~hartley/Courses/ArticlesCo mputersSociety/2005/10755178.htm [rowan.edu]

If you accidentally viewed something illegal and deleted it in horror, best to pound your hard drive into dust and fuse the dust in a furnace.

GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

flag burning (837301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12837992)

GNAA

Re:GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838047)

Congratulations on your failed attempt to join GNAA.

Re:GNAA (1)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838063)

Uhh what's GNAA?

Re:GNAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838098)

http://www.gnaa.us/ [www.gnaa.us]

If you have looked at illegal content, you should (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838000)

go to jail.

Same old story (1)

77Punker (673758) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838001)

They're going to try the "my friend put the crack in my glove compartment" line. It doesn't work in the real world; it won't work for data on a hard drive, either.

Re:Same old story (1)

arose (644256) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838016)

Hello, I am your friend, the link you clicked without knowing exactly where I would lead you. I do work, otherwise you wouldn't be in trouble now.

Re:Same old story (5, Interesting)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838033)

They're going to try the "my friend put the crack in my glove compartment" line.

This would be more like the cop finding rocks of crack stuck in the treads of your tires.

Re:Same old story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838086)

No it's more like cops finding crack in your blood and arresting you for posession.

Re:Same old story (1)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838178)

No it's more like finding blood in crack that cops arrrr.r.r.dfskdjf [automatic analogy maker error]

Re:Same old story (2, Insightful)

Hays (409837) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838039)

Umm... it does work if your friend put crack in your glove department. Sure the burden of proof might be on you at that point, but that IS a valid excuse.

Anyway, that's a bad analogy.

The key question here is- does the fact that someone has browser caching on instead of off make something drastically more illegal.

Re:Same old story (1)

PyWiz (865118) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838138)

I don't know where you come but I believe here in the US (at least in Georgia, where I live) the driver is responsible for the contents of his car. If your friend puts crack in your glove compartment, or even has drugs on him, YOU can be charged with possession.

In the same sense, if you click on a link to kiddie porn, even if you didn't mean to, you are still held responsible as the "driver" of the computer. This is even more fair to me than the car example because you actually did the clicking on the link but you did not put crack in your friends pocket.

All I can say is always check your links people, always check your links. If you click on one of those misdirecting links like "Free IPODs" *click* KIDDIE PORN or whatever, there's really no need to sweat it, the state isn't going to waste money/court time to prosecute someone who just wanted a free Apple music playing appliance. On the other hand, if you like to look at kiddie porn often, you should probably turn browser caching off (you sick bastard).

20 years over 4 hours? (5, Insightful)

Synbiosis (726818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838003)

"He said most of the pictures were viewed between midnight on Dec. 2 and 4 a.m. on Dec. 3 in 2003."

I think it's absurd that someone could face 20 hours in prison for viewing illegal pictures for 4 hours. But that's just me.

Re:20 years over 4 hours? (2, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838023)

Most murders killed their victims within 2 minutes.

Re:20 years over 4 hours? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838053)

I change my oil in 15 minutes and my motorcycle goes 0-140MPH in under 11 seconds How is that related to this case at all?

Re:20 years over 4 hours? (2)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838054)

But their victim is dead forever.

Re:20 years over 4 hours? (1)

Synbiosis (726818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838072)

"Most murders killed their victims within 2 minutes." The average murderer also serves less than 20 years in prison.

Re:20 years over 4 hours? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838111)

And viewing a picture is morally equivalent to killing another person how?

Re:20 years over 4 hours? (4, Insightful)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838129)

There are two things to consider

1. By viewing the images of exploited children you are creating a demand. Higher demand means more kids life's are ruined to create more pictures.

2. Punishments generally reflect how hard it is to catch a crime, not how much damage it causes. This is why you can go to prison for 209320938 years just for copying a movie for your friend.

Re:20 years over 4 hours? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838144)

20 hours in prison?

Heck, I'll call it a day of..

Now I'm worried (2, Funny)

mangu (126918) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838184)

I think it's absurd that someone could face 20 hours in prison for viewing illegal pictures for 4 hours


You think that's "viewing"? FTA: A federal agent said Barton's computer contained more than 450 pornographic images


From my computer:


$ find graphics/xxx/ -name '*.jpg' | wc -l

25584


Now, That's what I call "viewing"!

WOW (1)

Unworthy Advocate (767730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838010)

First Post! man, This made my day!

Sophistry at its finest... (-1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838017)


From TFA:


Last week Barton's lawyers argued that even though the images were on Barton's computer, they did not belong to him, especially since he did not download them or print them.

Sorry, but you can't very well look at the pics without downloading them...the file is just in your cache instead of a location you specify. As for not printing a hard copy, I fail to see how that is at all relevant.

This entire 'defense' is based purely upon the attorney betting that people don't understand how the internet works, and I for one sincerely hope it fails.

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (4, Interesting)

Synbiosis (726818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838046)

"Sorry, but you can't very well look at the pics without downloading them...the file is just in your cache instead of a location you specify. As for not printing a hard copy, I fail to see how that is at all relevant."

The issue is that he's being charged with *posession*. Technically he's in violation, but if that argument can hold water in court, then anyone who views copyrighted images online using a cached browser can be charged with unauthorized copying of copyrighted images.

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (1)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838143)

>>The issue is that he's being charged with
>>*posession*. Technically he's in violation, but if
>>that argument can hold water in court, then anyone
>>who views copyrighted images online using a cached
>>browser can be charged with unauthorized copying
>>of copyrighted images.

As they bring these laws up to date in the times of the internet, I think they're going to start looking at intent. If user X recieved an e-mail promising one thing and got kiddie porn... should he be charged?

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (1)

CSMastermind (847625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838050)

That's just not true. Well the first part yes. Yes with exactly how the internet works, it is indeed impossible to look at the pictures without downloading them. That doesn't mean that their defense is trying to base a case entirely upon the hopes that people won't understand how the internet works. Consider this...Have you seen goat.cx??? Have you seen Lemonparty.org or any of the other variant pictures? I bet you meant to go there. And just because that Jpeg was in your temp internet files I bet that you would say that you, "possessed" that picture. Guy might deserve to go to jail but simply looking does not mean possession.

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838112)


Nice argument on the surface, but when you look at the particulars of the case, it just doesn't wash.

From TFA:


A federal agent said Barton's computer contained more than 450 pornographic images, including 156 porn images of children.

Over a third of the pics cached on his system were kiddie porn. That high a percentage cannot be contributed to 'clicking on the wrong link'.

Obviously, some threshold for the distinction between 'accidental' and 'intentional' downloading of contraband pics needs to be enumerated, but it's equally obvious that it's nowhere near 35%.

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (1)

Morf (33787) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838140)

Even so, I could see how this would be accidental -- launch one dodgy website which pops up 50 others, and before you know it, 1/3 of your cache is filled with crud.

Unlikely as hell, yes, but I wouldn't want to totally discount it from the realms of possibility.

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838183)


and before you know it, 1/3 of your cache is filled with crud.

And the cache would show that these images were all downloaded in a few seconds, demonstrating that they weren't downloaded at the user's behest.

The answer is that in addition to the simple fact of the images being present, intent to view the images must also be present...and proven.

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (5, Insightful)

jrm228 (677242) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838059)

Someone could easily post an illegal picture as a 1-1 pixel image in a post on a site like this and it'd be in your cache. Are you sure you want to completely dismiss that defense?

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838130)


Someone could easily post an illegal picture as a 1-1 pixel image in a post on a site like this and it'd be in your cache.

Really. Do you know what the definition of 'pixel' is? Just how pornographic do you think a '1-1 pixel image' is capable of being?

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838149)

He meant a larger image resized as an 1x1 image by the browser you moron

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838185)

<img src="evilimage.gif" width="1" height="1">

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838069)

I sort of disagree. (shoot me if you must).

My argument is that you have no control over what goes in the cache. *Everything* a web page sends to you goes in the cache, even if you don't actually view it. You could easily put a 1x1 picture of child porn in a legit looking web page and it'll be downloaded to the cache.

I'm not saying this guy's not guilty as sin, but you have to think before you lay down blanket laws.

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (1)

kmortelite (870152) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838163)

I'd like to amend your statement to say "almost no control over what goes in the cache," instead of "no control."

You're completely right that malicious people could to exactly as you said. However, most sites aren't going to do that sort of thing. If I don't go to any porn sites, it's a pretty safe bet I won't have any problems of that sort with my cache.

But, as you said, blanket laws are very scary. It's obvious this guy (or someone using his computer) viewed those images. From what they say, many of them were illegal. Is the man in possesion of illegal material?

This is a very tricky issue. Could we judge it better if we ask the question: "is the guy technically competent enough to go back through the cache to make use of those pictures?" I don't know.

I do know there are some sickos out there http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/06/16/serial.molestatio n.ap/index.html [cnn.com]
and something needs to be done, but just what, I don't know.

Re:Sophistry at its finest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838091)

Suppose this is an adware issue (which it doesn't seem like it is) or even an "oops, clicked the wrong link" issue. Your machine starts spewing out porn popups. Those got downloaded somehow, right? Did you download them on purpose? Probably not.

In the end, I guess it will come down to intent.

Time to move those mp3's (4, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838027)

to Temporary Internet Files :)

Re:Time to move those mp3's (1)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838192)

Or create a folder in the root of C:\ called "Temporary Internet Files" and stick all your folders including \Windows in there. Haha cops I Win!

A good example (5, Insightful)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838031)

Of why -acts- should be crimes, not simply states or possession.

Re:A good example (3, Interesting)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838135)

I agree completely. If I have pictures of airplanes on my computer, it isn't the equivalent of hijacking an airplane and flying it into the world trade centers. If I have pictures of my front lawn, that isn't the same as making a fertilizer bomb and blowing up the federal building. But for some reason having pictures of naked kids means that you are going to commit child rape. Granted, I think kiddy porn is disgusting myself, but 20 years in prison seems a bit excessive. People who rape actual kids get less than that.

Re:A good example (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838155)

Yep. The two elements of a crime: actus reus and mens rea. Guilty act and guilty mind. I am 100% opposed to "strict liability" crimes. However, possession is more than a state. Possession, properly defined, is the knowing or intentional act of possessing something.

But that's not the issue here. The issue is what constitutes the act of "possessing" something. Without explicit language to the contrary, I strongly believe that looking at a web page does not constitute possessing its content simply by virtue of your web browser caching the content. However, digging through the cache to extract the content for longer-term storage might constitute possession.

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838186)

And I'm completely puzzled by how the police handles child porn.

If there is a murder on my street and I take a picture of it, I show it to the police. It helps them track down the murderer.

If there is someone abusing a child, someone takes a picture, the police gets the picture. Instead of saying "Thanks, this is going to help track down the child abuser", they send the guy 20 years behind bars -- not the child abuser, but the guy who has a proof of a crime he didn't commit!

Re:A good example (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838203)

States can be crimes? Can we criminalize Florida, pleazzzzze? :)

Spyware? (2, Insightful)

eggman9713 (714915) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838032)

What about malicious web sites or programs that secretly install said content on your computer? Porn Dialers?

Re:Spyware? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838132)

What about people that secretly put kiddy porn underneath your bed? Same deal with such things.

Not this again... (2)

nightcrawler.36 (892551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838037)

This is going to get nasty. At some point--not in my lifetime. We won't have to deal with privacy issues or idiot lawyers trying to make a fast buck. Ambulance chasers--I tell ya...

Accedents (4, Insightful)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838038)

What about accedents? I remember not so long ago typing .com instead of .gov would have nasty consequences, I understand and totaly support prosecuting (and then promptly castrating) child porn perveiors and those with large "collections" but should clicking the wrong link in Google or entering the wrong domain on accedent, which could result in massive ammounts of other sites launching, spy/ad/porn/shitware installing and so on be criminal?

I agree with the lawyer in so far as the cache should not be considered property.

Re:Accedents (1)

coolGuyZak (844482) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838148)

I believe what you are saying as well--so long as the access times and other such data that can be retrieved from the harddrive are taken into account.

For instance: Say I have 10 illegal pictures in my internet cache. Now, if the "access time" spans 30sec-1min (e.g. it could concievably be from some malicious program or site) then that's fine. However, 4 hours? Without being given any additional information, that sounds fishy.

Re:Accedents (4, Interesting)

fourtyfive (862341) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838193)

Obviously 4 hours _isnt_ an accident, so your point is moot. I didnt read the article (this is slashdot!) but if all he's getting is 20 hours of prison time, thats a joke. This person needs intensive therapy (10-15 hours per week). Sexual predators have a mental illness that disconnects them with the emotionality of sex and focuses them intensly on the sexuality. I'm tired of seeing sex offenders (so called "perverts") being stuck in prison and then released back into society. These people do not need prison time, they arent criminals (except by law), they are persons with _mental disabilities_! And as such they need counseling to assist them in seeing why they're wrong instead of just sending them to prison.

material is material... (1)

coklat (577117) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838041)

if i brought a newspaper, the paper is mine while i can not claim that i wrote the news... but sure hell i can do whatever i want with it...

put that perpective onto web materials, if i download something (say porn), that material is indeed mine, my possesion, while still i can not claim i create the material..

and if some fbi/cops come to my harddisk and find that the material is a kiddy porn, sure as hell i'll get a jail time for "possessing" the material..

i say, viewing (directly or indirectly --i.e. viewing slashdot.jpg) is considered as possesing.

Re:material is material... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838083)

real world analogies aren't so useful in these cases. But a closer one might be flipping through a porn book in the library, rather than buying a porn book.

He didn't think he was taking possession, and he didn't think he was materially supporting the people who published this filth. In fact, if the pictures he looked at were really good computer renderings instead of real children, he wouldn't have even commited a crime. But the fact that the pixels came from real children instead of digital imitations makes it a huge felony.

Makes me wonder about digitally manipulated pictures of children. Where does it go from fake to real. When you use texture on your 3d model that came from a minor?

Re:material is material... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838153)

but the argument the lawyer is making is that you walked past the news stand and looked at the paper, therefor anything in the paper should not be deemed something that you were in posession of.

Re:material is material... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838177)

So, if someone successfully redirected the /. website to underage porn, would you be okay with the police confiscating your computer and sending you to jail for a number of years? You do realize that when you type a URL in the bar or follow a link on the web you cannot be certain ever of what material might be there -- material that will be downloaded and in the cache on your computer before you are able to view it and even know if it is stuff you don't want to see. If you don't believe in this scenario, ask yourself why /. gives the domain on links in brackets next to every link. It has a little something to do with sex. In fact a picture of a sexual nature many people find offensive. Goatse is the proof for why cache "possession" is not proof of intent.

combine this with precaching (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838043)

for extra fun!

How to go to jail (4, Insightful)

jarich (733129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838058)

Step one, install Mozilla and turn on the background prefetching.

Step two, go to Google and search on something

Step three, Mozilla will immediately start fetching the pages in the background and storing them on your machine.

Step four, get arrested for having every link on the results page cached on your machine. Even the crazy pornographic (and illegal) pages that you didn't click.

Re:How to go to jail (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838106)

Any odds out there on how long it will take some lawyer to actually trie this precaching defense?

Re:How to go to jail (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838108)

But the problem is showing the lawmakers (and interpreters) that this is how the world works. Their unfortunate and common misconceptions about how the technical world works is what causes this shit in the first place.

It also causes people to get off on technicalities when they are surfing illegal porn.

Re:How to go to jail (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838197)


Why should surfing any kind of porn be illegal?

Not trolling -- but seriously, just LOOKING at certain PICTURES is now widely considered to be a crime?

Yeah, keep chanting that "land of the free" bullshit till the lynch mob comes for you. Mob rule isn't freedom.

Re:How to go to jail (1)

macaulay805 (823467) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838121)

Step Five: PROFIT!!! (Well, for the lawyers anyways).

Re:How to go to jail (2, Interesting)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838154)

Step one: Buy some kiddy porn

Step two: Find out when someone's house is about to be searched.

Step three: Place said kiddy porn in their house.

Would the person then be charged? I don't think so (assuming the cops learn that the person didn't deliberately obtain the porn). Should be the same case with the internet.

If I have a page I've viewed that is obviously for porn (either accidental click or the google thing) and I don't click on any other links, it's fairly easy to prove I didn't deliberately view the porn (and stopped viewing when I realised what it was). But if I proceeded to click on numerous links after finding out, then it's easy to prove I knowingly looked at it.

It is possession (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838060)

But is all possesion illegal? I think that is the question. If I have a photographic memory, is that posssession illegal? Is memory in general illegal? This is the question, and the answer is that no it should not be.

Hopefully not possesion (2, Funny)

dj245 (732906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838061)

Visitors to Shrubbery Porn [rogertheshrubber.net] may be in for a rude awakening when their bosses fire them for possesion of shrubbery porn on company computers.

Possession Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838062)

Simple possession based laws, that try to make objects illegal, have inherent logical problems. I like to review this article [fear.org] when I run up against reports of abuse due to such laws. The abuse is inherent in the logical flaws necessary to declare objects themselves against the law.

Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, etc. are screw (0, Offtopic)

guardiangod (880192) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838078)

If the lawyer loses this one, these companies are going to get screw Big Tim (tm). Just imagine, all the people who lost their suits start sueing these companies/foundation for making their web browser cache pictures.

Trouble is ahead.

Re:Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, etc. are screw (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838176)

If the lawyer loses this one, these companies are going to get screw Big Tim

Tim Berners-Lee?

People click links (3, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838084)

Just look how "popular" tubgirl and goatse are. I doubt many of the people with those images in their possession on their hard drives viewed them on purpose.

I have a link in my sig. If there are illegal images there, should the people who follow the link be subject to prosecution?

Re:People click links (1)

OneDeeTenTee (780300) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838161)

I have a link in my sig. If there are illegal images there, should the people who follow the link be subject to prosecution?

The link in your sig is dead, so there's no pr0n there.

Re:People click links (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838182)

Given that the link is broken... I think they'd get off! :)

Re:People click links (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838201)

You also should consider spam. Links get sent all the time in spam, and unless they are phishing attacks, they rarely ever try to hide what they are advertising, but they conceivably could hide illegal material in seemingly "innocent" links. An "I was duped into clicking the link" defence might be interesting....

Victimless Crimes, in General (4, Insightful)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838093)

This all begs the question of why viewing anything should ever be illegal. Who is the victim here?

Sure, if someone creates porn from actual people, unwilling to or unable to consent, that's something the creator has done. And maybe if someone has paid to fund that, there's an issue. If this guy has paid, they should go on the money. If he's not, I don't see how they have any good cause even though they may have a case.

When you start to admit victimless crimes, the whole algebra of causality is turned on its head and lots of strange things result, not the least of which is this case.

Re:Victimless Crimes, in General (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838157)

Viewing things SHOULD be illegal in some circumstances!

Are you seriosly arguing that viewing child porn should NOT be illegal??

Re:Victimless Crimes, in General (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838159)

While I generally agree on victimless crimes inevitably corrupting the legal system, there _is_ a clear victim here -- the pr0n subject. And a direct causal link to the viewer. the viewer represents a valuable resource -- a potential customer. They might be enticed by free samples.

Re:Victimless Crimes, in General (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838195)

By your logic P2P should be not only legal but praiseworthy.

Re:Victimless Crimes, in General (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838167)

Must be nice to live in such a black and white world.

Re:Victimless Crimes, in General (1)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838168)

Actually, I believe it is NOT illegal if no real kids are used. However, if they are used, then it is not a victimless crime and those who purchase or trade in it are contributing to its continuation. Of course it seems ridiculous to charge someone for this becaues of the possibility of accidental downloadings--not because it is a "victimless" crime.

Consider newsbots also. (2, Insightful)

synthespian (563437) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838101)

Consider newsbots...a user downloads massive quantities of material with a software. He doesn't know what he downloaded until he looks/hears it, because the whole point of newsbots is automation.

And, I haven't read the case the case, but what is the user supposed to do about cache/swap/temporary folder?

Mens Rea -- criminal intent (4, Insightful)

redelm (54142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838105)

This goes to an underconsidered area of the law -- establishing intent. For many laws, the forbidden act alone (actus reus) is not enough to convict. Proving a guilty intent (mens rea) is also necessary. However, some offenses do not require mens rea.

In this case, if possession of kiddie pr0n requires mens rea, then the lawyer has a good argument. Most lusers do not know that the browser has caches and so did not know they possessed the offending material. The /. '1337 couldn't get off that easily :)

The prosecution can easily prove they viewed pr0n, but that may not be illegal. To posess something requires an act of knowingly taking possession. IANAL.

Re:Mens Rea -- criminal intent (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838125)

The prosecution can easily prove they viewed pr0n, but that may not be illegal. To posess something requires an act of knowingly taking possession. IANAL.


I should hope so, otherwise it is possible to get anyone sent to prison just by emailing them a kiddy-porn JPG. By the time they see it, it's already on their hard drive and thus they are "in possession"...

This is serious. (5, Insightful)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838110)

If you RTFA you'll see that this is a very serious question with broad implications. Many laws are written in terms of possession, and there isn't a good definition of possession that works for things like browser caches.

Whether what this guy did is morally or ethically wrong is a different issue than whether what he did is illegal. If you have kiddie porn in your browser cache, do you possess it? What if someone mails you some raunchy spam and your mail client caches a copy on your disk -- do you possess it? In either case, planting evidence that could get someone serious jail time suddenly becomes trivial! I could put a link to an obscene photo on my home page and with a small amount of effort make it invisible to you but trick your browser into downloading (and possibly caching) it. Or I could wait until the Google crawler comes by, and then extort a little cash out of Google because now I can show that they possess this photo, etc. (The links don't point to my site; there's no evidence that I've ever possessed the photo.)

This is far from simple.

interesting (1)

voudras (105736) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838127)

so teh google pwnes internets?

In Canada, there's a separate law for that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838128)

Canada recently passed a law against "accessing" child pornography; it seems quite likely that it was specifically intended to pre-empt the "I didn't possess it, I only viewed it" argument.

Re:In Canada, there's a separate law for that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12838166)

Wow, with a law like that, Google search could become the ultimate in criminal tools!

Can't Tell (3, Funny)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838137)

This is a pretty tough one. I won't be able to decide until I see the evidence.

A flurry of frame-ups? (5, Insightful)

heretic108 (454817) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838145)

How to frame up someone you don't like:
  1. Set up a political blog intended for your political opponents to read.
  2. Host it overseas under a false name, and be sure to use Tor when uploading stuff onto it
  3. Populate it with political material, designed for repeat visits
  4. Replace all full-stop characters on the page with img tags for child pr0n, sized to 1x1
  5. A few days later, change the IMG tags back to full stops
  6. A few days after that, rework the entire site to make it look like a typical pr0n site
  7. Send emails to law enforcement agencies reporting the IP addresses of the visitors, and complaining that these people used false credit card info when accessing a legitimate adult site
  8. Get a carton of beer, and gather round CNN, ABC, or Fox etc with a few friends and wait for the scandal to break

Isn't possession something you take? (2, Insightful)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838147)

I mean, as an example, if I stuff drugs into your hand on the street- are you possessing? I would say not, you're only holding it. On the other hand if you look at it, and carefully put it into your pocket, then you possess it; or if you just paid for it, holding it in your hand is enough to possess it. I would argue that holding it in the cache is like holding it in your hand.

If it's something you take, then accidentally seeing something on the web doesn't imply possession.

On the other hand, deliberately seeing something means that you are clearly taking it to your computer.

It's a subtle difference, but it seems to me important here.

Here, particularly, it seems to me that he took possession of many files, he was clearly deliberately possessing them.

Boot of a CD - Cache in ram (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838150)

Boot of a CD - problem solved right there! There are numerous stand-alone bootable OS'es out there (QNX comes to mind) not to mention all the live-CD's such as SuSE, Knoppix etc. It's your right to view any information you want. Even if it's questionable. If that right is taken away from you - you have no freedom anymore. Is that what we want?

View rate? (2, Insightful)

redelm (54142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838188)

One small tidbit -- the article mentions that the accused viewed 450 images in 4 hours. That's a lot of hard surfing even for broadband 30sec/ea. Were these thumbnails?

Pornography sure... (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838191)

... but why didn't you mention it was about pedophilia?

Either way this is interesting (2, Insightful)

jernst (617005) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838196)

If he wins, one could conceivably argue that merely "viewing" (ahem, listening to) audio/video files does not constitute illegal copying.

If he loses, one can argue that a number of industries already allow the (temporary) copying of copyrighted material because they show it on the web.

This case may turn out to be not be about porn.

Click here and go to prison (3, Insightful)

Free_Trial_Thinking (818686) | more than 9 years ago | (#12838198)

What if this link [illegalimages.com] contained said illegal images, all 20 of you who clicked it are now criminals since your browser would have loaded an illegal image and cached it (most likely).

Doesn't seem fair, does it? You were just curious where the link went.

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