Kupps: What Is ‘Community’ in Web Obscenity Case?

Rhett Pardon

LAKE WALES, Fla. — Kimberly Kupps, indicted on local obscenity charges for content distributed over the web, has asked a Florida judge through her attorney to determine the geographic scope of the“community” as applied to her charges, XBIZ has learned.

“We hope to build on the foundation laid in the Kilbride case from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which requires the application of national community standards in Internet obscenity cases,” Kupps’ attorney, Lawrence G. Walters, told XBIZ Wednesday night.

“We hope for a similar ruling in this case, particularly given the instantaneous delivery of news and information to individuals throughout the country, on their mobile devices and laptops.”

In U.S. vs. Kilbride (584 F.3d 1240 (2009)), a three-judge 9th Circuit panel weighed a joint appeal of the first convictions for Internet obscenity not involving child pornography and the first convictions ever under the federal CAN-SPAM Act.

The appellants’ arguments focused on a jury instruction that allowed a jury in Arizona to convict Schaffer and Kilbride of obscenity based on lay witness testimony as to community standards existing in places all over the U.S.

In appeal, the court agreed with Kilbride and another defendant’s contention that a national standard is more appropriate for Internet communications and that the lower court failed to instruct the jury to that standard.

Kupps, whose legal name is Theresa Taylor, was charged with six felonies for violating the distribution  and sale of obscene material and one for the wholesale promotion of obscene material for content on her namesake site, KimberlyKupps.com.

The Polk County Sheriffs Department had been investigating the big-boobs model and performer for three months after a deputy paid an initial $19.95 membership fee to her website.

Later, Florida Judge Reinaldo Ojeda reviewed Kimberly Kupps clips and signed off on arrest warrants after he deemed the content obscene.

After Kupps was arrested, the Polk County, Fla., sheriff — Grady Judd — declared war on the production and distribution of porn in his county.

“We want a wholesome community here, we don’t want smut peddlers,” Judd said, “and if they try to peddle their smut from Polk County or into Polk County we’ll be on them like a cheap suit.”

Walters said that times have changed when it comes to charging and prosecuting obscenity cases relative to content posted on the web and that a national community standard is appropriate.

“In the digital age, we all learn of current events, and receive the same information, at virtually the same time as evidenced by events like the viral circulation of risque pictures of former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner, and news of the recent horrific shooting in Norway,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where the event occurs, the world learns about it immediately.

“So the idea of a quaint, isolated community that can claim that it maintains a different level of tolerance relating to controversial speech, is as outdated as rabbit ear TV sets. We have more in common with our online friends than with the random people who happen to inhabit the same section of Earth where our homes are located.”

Information on the legal defense fund for Kupps can be viewed here.