- WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Walt Disney Co., already under boycott by some religious
groups, is seeking to be exempted from a proposed law aimed at keeping
Internet pornography away from children, according to Republican congressional
- The GOP-sponsored Child Online Protection
Act, the second major effort by Congress to protect children on the Internet,
would require commercial Web sites to verify an adult's age before showing
photographs or other material "harmful to minors."
- The House planned to vote on the bill
- Disney, the Motion Picture Association
of America and other groups are lobbying Republican leaders, said the GOP
staffers, speaking on condition of anonymity. They were pressing for language
limiting the bill only to a company that displays online harmful material
"as its primary or principal course of trade or business," according
to lobbying documents.
- As written now, the bill would apply
to all companies that display such material on the Internet "as a
regular course of such person's trade or business."
- "That particular loophole could
easily be used by the adult-oriented sites to circumvent the whole intent
of the law," said David Walsh, director of the National Institute
on Media and Family. "You'd have to get into the definition of primary
- Disney said in a statement it "is
extremely concerned that children be protected from exposure to inappropriate
content on the Internet" and "has been working with members of
Congress to improve the language" of the bill.
- Others lobbying for the change said they're
concerned that a bill aimed mostly at pornographic Web sites might inadvertently
snare mainstream sites, especially as the Internet matures into an entertainment
medium that could include the delivery of movies.
- "We have concerns that the current
language is too broad," said MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor. "We
support changes to the language that would target and impact commercial
adult Web sites."
- Disney, whose business has long been
entertainment mostly for children, has been the target of a largely ineffective
boycott by some religious groups, notably the Southern Baptist Convention
and the conservative Focus on the Family.
- They object to some of Disney's policies,
including providing health benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees,
and to films such as "Pulp Fiction" by its Miramax Film Corp.
- Disney, with $22.4 billion in sales last
year, operates "Disney.Com -- The Web Site for Families" through
its Disney Online business, part of the company's massive "Creative
Content" division that overall is responsible for nearly half its
revenues. That division also covers Miramax, The Disney Store, home video
releases and some television shows.
- But since Disney's "primary or principal
business" isn't showing harmful material online, the company wouldn't
fall under the new law if the wording were changed. Most other entertainment
companies also would be exempted from the law.
- The Clinton administration opposes the
legislation -- at least pending a study of online pornography -- saying
it prefers the use of high-tech tools by parents over a "static, imperfect
solution" such as a new law.
- The House bill sponsored by Rep. Michael
Oxley, R-Ohio, largely parallels legislation offered in the Senate by Sen.
Dan Coats, R-Ind., which is part of a Justice Department spending bill
awaiting a vote.
- Congress is scheduled to adjourn Friday.
- From Dave Matt <firstname.lastname@example.org 10-7-98
- As a southern gentleman who is a practicing Agnostic
married to a Catholic School teacher I will stand with Disney as does my
wife. They are not saying porn is good. What they are saying is that if
you write the law the way the SBC, CC, and FotF want it written, and I
have read that law as proposed by the SBC, any site that advertises adult
type features whether it is porn or just and R rated movie it would fall
under said legislation. Disney does not want the law banned nor do they
want to exempt from what they want is porn seperated from everything else
without banning it all together. In all, what I see is three organizations
that want to control what everyone watches, buys, and views in the privacy
of their own homes. I did not let the church influence my way of life when
I married my wife. I will not allow the church to influence the future
of my way of life.
- Dave Matt