4.6 The First Ammendment as Local Ordinance
Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet

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     Usenet's international reach raises interesting legal questions that
have yet to be fully resolved.  Can a discussion or posting that is legal
in one country be transmitted to a country where it is against the law? 
Does the posting even become illegal when it reaches the border?  And
what if that country is the only path to a third country where the
message is legal as well?  Several foreign colleges and other
institutions have cut off feeds of certain newsgroups where Americans
post what is, in the U.S., perfectly legal discussions of drugs or
alternative sexual practices.  Even in the U.S., some universities have
discontinued certain newsgroups their administrators find offensive,
again, usually in the alt. hierarchy.
     An interesting example of this sort of question happened in 1993,
when a Canadian court issued a gag order on Canadian reporters covering a
particularly controversial murder case.  Americans, not bound by the gag
order, began posting accounts of the trial -- which any Canadian with a
Net account could promptly read.