This site is designed to help artists better understand their free speech rights and how those rights apply online. It provides easy-to-understand explanations of what is and is not protected as free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as what kinds of restrictions you’re likely to encounter as you display or sell your work online.
The First Amendment broadly protects all kinds of expression from government regulation. In addition, various laws have been enacted that have carried the offline world’s strong protection of free expression and the free flow of ideas and art into the online environment. In most cases, there is very little to worry about as you consider hosting your work online. Certain controversial subjects, however, can be regulated, which might lead to legal trouble. This site is meant to help you understand those risks and what you can do about them.
The site is divided into three main areas:
Issues[LINK] covers the rights and risks associated with various types of controversial material. Despite First Amendment protections, different types of material can be regulated or restricted in different ways. Issues covered include Sex [links for each], Violence, Politics, Criticism and Hate Speech, Parody, and Sampling and Appropriation.
Roles[LINK] contains information for both artists looking to post their work online, and for web hosts, web developers, or dealers who might host the work of others. The Artists[link] section covers anonymous posting, student work, and the different considerations for hosting your own work versus contributing your work to an online forum. The Online Service Provider[link] section covers intermediary immunity, reporting obligations for illegal material, and the particular issues that apply to government-sponsored forums.
Risks[LINK] is aimed at those with specific legal considerations, and covers the various penalties and regulations that might come up in relation to displaying controversial material online. From a free-speech perspective, the risks are not too worrisome, but it is possible to run into various civil [links throughout], criminal, or administrative penalties. This section also discusses the role of third-party terms of service [link] agreements and the issues that arise from the international [link] nature of the Internet.
The Internet is a tremendously rich and powerful platform for expression of all kinds and in all media. We hope you find these articles helpful as you create and share your work online. Please help spread the word using the links below, and we of course welcome your comments and questions at onlineartrights [at] cdt [dot] org.
ABOUT THIS SITE
This site was created by the Center for Democracy & Technology with the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. CDT is a non-profit public interest organization working to keep the Internet open, innovative, and free. With expertise in law, technology, and policy, CDT seeks to enhance free expression and other civil liberties online. Founded in accordance with Andy Warhol’s will, the Warhol Foundation’s mission is the advancement of the visual arts.
We welcome your feedback and questions about the site at onlineartrights [at] cdt [dot] org.
Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger.