Features – Public Libraries and the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA): Legal Sources

Mary Minow is a library law consultant with LibraryLaw.com. She received her B.A. from Brown University, her A.M.L.S. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her J.D. from Stanford University. Mary is coauthor with Tomas Lipinski of The Library’s Legal Answer Book (ALA: 2003). Links to Mary’s other articles on LLRX.com are here.

Table of Contents

Primary Sources
Secondary Sources
State Sources

Primary Sources

Supreme Court decision

United States v. American Library Association et al. (June 23, 2003)

The Children’s Internet Protection Act

Public Law 106-554; See Title XVII “Children’s Internet Protection” on page 337
pdf file or text file (or search on 106th Congress at http://thomas.loc.gov)
Warning: it is part of an appropriations bill that is hundreds of pages.

Public Law 106-554; Title XVII “Children’s Internet Protection” This is an unofficial but briefer version, posted at the Washington Internet Project. It uses redlining to show the portions the lower court had found unconstitutional. These portions have now been restored by the Supreme Court at http://www.cybertelecom.org/cda/cipatext.htm

To see the law in context, it’s best to go to the U.S. Code itself:
The law has been codified in the Telecommunications Act (e-rate portion) at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/47/254.html (go to subpart (h))

and in the Museum and Library Services Act (LSTA portion) at
http://www.imls.gov/whatsnew/leg/leg_mlsa.pdf (go to Sect. 224)

Regulatory Guidance

Federal Communications Commission – libraries with e-rate discounts
Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service: Children’s Internet Protection Act. Final rule.
47 FR 47253 (August 8, 2003) at http://www.infosecwest.com/cryptome/fcc080803.txt; Codified at 47 CFR 54.520. This is a summary of the Commission’s Order in CC Docket No. 96-45 released on July 24, 2003.

In the Matter of Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service Children’s Internet Protection Act
CC Docket No. 96-45 (July 24, 2003) (47pp) http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-188A1.pdf

See also FCC orders, notices and letters at http://www.fcc.gov/wcb/universal_service/schoolsandlibs.html
Universal Service Administrative Company, a nonprofit corporation appointed by FCC to administer e- rate. Has guidance on forms at http://www.sl.universalservice.org/

Institute of Museum and Library Services – libraries with LSTA grants for Internet access and Internet computers
The Children’s Internet Protection Act at http://www.imls.gov/whatsnew/leg/protection_act.htm


Universal Service Administrative Company. Nonprofit corporation was appointed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to oversee school and library e-rate programs.
See Form 486 for individual and consortia member compliance. Consortia billing entities file Form 479. http://www.sl.universalservice.org/form/

Secondary Sources

Legal Commentary and Public Library Guidance

American Library Association, CIPA Web Site is the first stop for anyone interested in CIPA and libraries.

  • Thomas M. Susman, Ropes & Gray LLP, Questions and Answers on Filter Disabling under CIPA (December 3, 2003)
  • Thomas M. Susman, Ropes & Gray LLP, CIPA Questions and Answers Arising Under the LSTA (November 14, 2003)
    and more at http://www.ala.org/cipa/.
  • Bob Bocher, FAQ on E-rate Compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Neighborhood Children’s Internet Protection Act (August 27, 2003) gets into nitty gritty compliance questions, deadlines, forms etc. Is updated as regulations change at http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/dlcl/pld/pdf/cipafaq.pdf.

    Bob Bocher and Mary Minow, CIPA: Key Issues for Decision Makers WebJunction at http://www.webjunction.org/do/DisplayContent?id=2101.

    Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Public Libraries and the Internet – The Supreme Court Upholds Funding Conditions Mandating Internet Filters, Municipal Lawyer (November/December 2003) by the Deputy Director for the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. At http://www.ala.org/ala/washoff/WOissues/civilliberties/washcipa/ciparesources/publiclibrariesinternetdcs.pdf

    Robert Corn-Revere, United States v. American Library Association: A Missed Opportunity for the Supreme Court to Clarify Application of First Amendment Law to Publicly Funded Expressive Institutions CATO Supreme Court Review: 2002-2003. Twenty-six page thoughtful exploration into the muddled public forum doctrine and government speech as well as unconstitutional conditions and spending by the lead counsel in the Mainstream Loudoun v. Loudoun County Library Board of Trustees library filters case. Highly recommended. http://www.cato.org/pubs/scr2003/publiclyfunded.pdf

    Walt Crawford, Coping with CIPA: A Censorware Special, Cites & Insights (Midsummer 2003) 20 pp. special issue excerpting and summarizing commentary on the CIPA decision, at http://cites.boisestate.edu/civ3i9.pdf.

    Julie Hilden, A Recent Supreme Court Decision Allowing the Government to Force Public Libraries to Filter Users’ Internet Access Is Less Significant Than It Might At First Appear, FindLaw Writ (July 1, 2003) at http://www.findlaw.com/hilden/200030701.html.

    Paul T. Jaeger and Charles R. McClure, Potential Legal Challenges to the Application of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in Public Libraries: Strategies and Issues,” First Monday (February 2004). Although this article title says it focuses on potential new “as applied” legal challenges, it actually focuses on facial challenges to the constitutionality of the law, which the Supreme Court has foreclosed in its June 2003 decision. At http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_2/jaeger/

    Janet M. LaRue, Concerned Women for America, Memorandum of Legal Opinion, Library Procedures for Disabling Software Filtering and Unblocking Web Sites (2003) argues that Supreme Court ruling does not require filter disabling on unconditional request by adults at http://www.cwfa.org/articles/4485/LEGAL/pornography/.

    Mary Minow, Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA): Legal Definitions of Child Pornography, Obscenity and “Harmful to Minors” (August 31, 2003). Specifies what content libraries must aim to block or filter. Note: only images must be blocked under CIPA, not text, at //www.llrx.com/features/updatecipa.htm.

    Alan Charles Raul, Edward R. McNicholas and Derek E. Brown, Internet and the First Amendment: United States v. American Library Association (July 2003) by attorneys at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. One and a half page summary of the case. Notes the monumental task facing programmers tasked with mapping First Amendment jurisprudence into filtering code. Concludes that further legal challenges over specific areas of filtered content seem inevitable, at http://www.sidley.com/cyberlaw/features/internetfirst.asp

    Paul M. Smith and Daniel Mach, Major Shifts in First Amendment Doctrine Narrowly Averted, Communications Lawyer (Fall 2003), by the attorneys from Jenner & Block, hired by the American Library Association for the CIPA case. Says that since the Supreme Court decision did not have a majority, its impact on public forum doctrine and the doctrine of unconstitutional conditions is limited. At http://www.abanet.org/forums/communication/comlawyer/fall03/TOC.DOC

    David Sobel, General Counsel, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Internet Filters and Public Libraries, First Reports (October 2003), 20pp. of legal background on CIPA at http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/PDF/Internetfilters.pdf.

    State Sources

    Related Laws

    National Conference of State Legislatures. Children and the Internet: Laws Relating to Filtering, Blocking and Usage Policies in Schools and Libraries (Last update: January 9, 2004)
    Contact: Pam Greenberg
    “Twenty states have Internet filtering laws that apply to public schools or libraries. The majority simply require school boards or public libraries to adopt Internet use policies to prevent minors from gaining access to sexually explicit, obscene or harmful materials. Some states, however, also require publicly funded institutions to install filtering software on library public access terminals or school computers.”

    Center for the Community Interest. Summaries of 50 States, Dist. of Columbia. Hired by the U.S. Department of Justice to assist in its defense of CIPA in the case against the American Library Association, this center surveyed and analyzed each state’s laws regarding children, libraries and Internet use, at http://www.communityinterest.org/alliance/porn%2050%20State%20Survey.htm

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    April 22, 2004 update to material created by Mary Minow for CIPA Update, July 17, 2003, provided through the Infopeople Project, supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

    Posted in: Features, Internet Filtering, Libraries & Librarians, Library Software & Technology, Privacy