Phyllis Gatson v Seneca Technologies

Internet Free Speech — Miscellaneous
Case Description: 

Prior Restraints (such as injunctions against defamation) - After a West Virginia company won a Freedom of Information Act case to obtain electronic copies of state tax maps, and the company posted the copies to its web site where it made them freely available to the public, a county tax assessor sued seeking to enjoin the posting of the maps. The assessor invoked a state regulation saying that tax maps could not be copied or given out without the consent of an assesspr. Public Citizen is representing the web site host, arguing the the injunction would be an unconstitutional prior restraint, that state law against copying maps without any exception for fair use violates the copyright laws and that, in any event, the state law applies only to paper copies and not electronic ones.


After Public Citizen filed its brief, the tax assessor decided to withdraw her request for an immediate injunction. The case was suspended pending further study by the assessor and her counsel, and was eventually dismissed.