Media Groups Say New Pornography Law Is Unconstitutional

By CARRIE SPENCER, Associated Press Writer

WORTHINGTON, Ohio (AP) - Booksellers, publishers and other media groups opposed to Ohio's updated anti-pornography law said they will sue the state Monday, the same day Gov. Bob Taft signed the bill into law.

The law adds computer images to the list of possible ways to display sexually explicit material juveniles, but opponents say it is too broad.

"The lawyers are telling us there will likely be a challenge, but in all likelihood they believe the Ohio law will be sustained," Taft said Monday after signing the bill.

Critics contend the law will stop transmission of adult material to adults if it is also deemed harmful to juveniles. But Taft said the law requires proving specific intent to distribute sexually explicit matter to minors.

The sponsor, Rep. Jim Hughes, a Columbus Republican, said the bill was narrowly tailored to conform with federal court decisions on obscenity laws.

In the version of Ohio's sex offense law passed in 1974, the word "material" had included only books, magazines, newspapers, prints, pictures, images, motion picture films and phonographic records.

Hughes' bill adds images appearing on a computer monitor, TV screen or liquid crystal display, transmitted via e-mail through the Internet or recorded on a computer hard drive or floppy disk.

The Motion Picture Association of America and other media groups had urged Taft to veto the bill.

Attorneys for a Dayton bookstore owner, Ohio Newspaper Association, Video Software Dealers of America and others said they would file a challenge later Monday in U.S. District Court in Dayton. The Internet "may not be burdened by inconsistent laws from state to state," the group of opponents said in a news release.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)