Letter from Michael Millen to Thomas Curry, March 31, 1998.
Letter from Thomas Curry to Michael Millen, April 17, 1998.
Source: Filtering Facts website. Reprinted with permission.
MICHAEL MILLEN, Attorney at Law
12 S. First St., Suite 810
March 31, 1998
Thomas R. Curry, Esq.
3500 Robertson Park Rd.
Livermore, CA 94550
In Re: Pornography Availability to Children at Livermore Libraries
Dear Mr. Curry:
I represent K.R., the mother of B.P., a minor. Without his parents consent, B.P. viewed obscene pornographic pictures on a library terminal owned and maintained by the City of Livermore. Although it is our contention that B.P. may well have suffered damage in viewing the pictures, at this time we are not pursuing a claim for monetary damages against the City.
We are, however, interested in seeing the City immediately cease and desist from allowing minors to use City property in City buildings maintained with City funds in a way which allows minors to view obscene and harmful matter.
There are solutions to the problem. One might be to divide the computers in the library into an "adults section" and a "childrens section". Computers in the adults section would have unrestricted Internet access. Computers in the childrens section would have installed on them commercially recognized blocking software which would prevent minors from viewing obscene and harmful matter. People under the age of 18 years would only be allowed to use terminals in the childrens section unless they had written permission from their parent or guardian allowing access to the adult terminals. Another option, preventing minors from using the Internet without parental permission, also solves the problem, albeit with more restrictions than City policy makers may desire. There may well be other options that the library could pursue, and it is the responsibility of the City and the library system to ensure that any proposed solution complies with the law.
Please note that this is not a free speech issue: obscenity has not First Amendment protections for anyone (adults or minors), and minors have not First Amendment right to view sexual matter which is harmful to them. This a child safety issue.
As you can see from enclosed draft complaint (which has neither been signed nor filed), my clients are prepared to go to court to prevent the library from continuing its current Internet pornography policy which allows unrestricted access by minors to harmful and obscene material.
If I do not hear from you within 10 days, I will proceed to file the complaint.
OFFICE OF THE
THOMAS R. CURRY 3600 Roberstson Park Road
City Attorney Livermore, California 94550
DANIEL G. SONDERGREN
Assistant City Attorney
GABRIELLE P. WHELAN (510) 373-5120
Deputy City Attorney FACIMILE: (510) 373-5125
April 17, 1998
Michael Millen, Esq.
12 South First Street, Suite 810
San Jose, CA 95113
Re: Access to the Internet at the Livermore Public Library
Dear Mr. Millen:
As I stated in my earlier letter to you, I have had the opportunity to discuss your March 31, 1998, letter with the Director of Library Services, the Mayor and members of the City Council and the City Manager. Please be advised that there are no computers in the childrens section of the main Livermore Public Library.
I have enclosed a copy of the Livermore Public Librarys electronic information services and network policy. As you can see, the Board of Trustees of the Livermore Public Library recognizes "that freedom of speech and expression are central to the successful maintenance of a free society."
The Board of Trustees "supports the idea that all members of the community have free and equal access to the entire range of library resources, regardless of content, approach, format or amount of detail. These rights extend to all users of the public library including minors."
Thank you for your interest in the Livermore Public Library.
Thomas R. Curry
Cc: Susan Gallinger, Director of Library Services
Jerry Peeler, City Manager