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For Immediate Release

Walter Feigenson

Brad Templeton


ClariNet files suit over Communications Decency law

San Jose, Calif. February 7, 1996 -- ClariNet Communications Corp. has joined several other electronic publishing companies and organizations in a suit against the U.S. Attorney General that seeks to have the newly passed "Communications Decency Act" declared unconstitutional. This so-called "Exon bill" was passed as an amendment to the recent Telecom bill President Clinton plans to sign Feb 8. ClariNet also seeks a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the law while the case is under consideration.

ClariNet has joined the suit, spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU - http://www.aclu.org), and cosponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://www.eff.org) and several other plaintiffs in an effort to block implementation of the legislation. Brad Templeton, founder of ClariNet, said "We feel the law would unfairly affect and chill our electronic publishing efforts - and we feel the law violates the 1st amendment of the U.S. constitution."

Templeton added "As newspaper publishers we are strong supporters of full freedom of expression. ClariNet has always felt that we should not 'protect' our readers from possibly offensive or 'indecent' material. Our job is to deliver the news. We sometimes even run stories we get from major wire services like Reuters and the Associated Press that ordinary American print newspapers won't run because their content might be offensive. We believe our readers are educated and intelligent and able to make their own decisions about what to read. We also believe that children should be able to read our news -- and that it is up to their parents to control their access and educate them about how to deal with material their parents feel is inappropriate."

At a time when the digital press is growing, and all major newspapers have or plan to have online versions, the digital press is becoming increasingly important, and should be subject to the same laws as the print press. Said Templeton: "Not only are we against censorship, we are particularly frightened by the parts of this bill that subject the electronic press to restrictions that don't apply to paper newspapers. This law forbids allowing 'indecent' material from reaching minors, but this restriction has been proven time and time again to be unconstitutional when applied to publishers of paper books and newspapers."

ClariNet also publishes the net's most widely read free material, the USENET newsgroup rec.humor.funny. While RHF is not part of ClariNet's paid-subscription electronic newspaper service, ClariNet sponsors its operation and provides the facilities for its publication and distribution. This moderated publication, dedicated to jokes of all types, sometimes publishes "dirty jokes," which may meet the definition of "indecent" applied in this new law, but removing all "indecent" jokes would destroy the newsgroup.

ClariNet has promised to carry news of the suit in its Internet ClariNews, which currently has 1.2 million subscribers. The current status of the suit will also be available on the ClariNet Internet home page: http://www.clari.net.

About ClariNet

ClariNet Communications is based in San Jose, California, is privately held, and internally funded. ClariNet publishes the ClariNet ClariNews on the Internet for both Usenet and World Wide Web users. Customers include Internet Access Providers, corporations and educational institutions. ClariNet, which began publication in 1989 as the first commercial content provider on the Internet, today has over 1,200,000 paid subscribers. ClariNews features over 2,000 stories per day, organized into more than 550 categories that are updated about 150 times each day. News sources include Reuters, Sports Ticker, Commerce Business Daily, Newsbytes, The New York Times Syndicate, United Media, Universal Press Syndicate, and exclusive online material from smaller sources.

ClariNet Communications Corp., 4880 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 206, San Jose, CA 95129.

ClariNet, The ClariNews, and "ClariNews" are trademarks of ClariNet Communications Corp. All other trademarks used herein are hereby recognized as such.


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