(link to article (pdf file - 139.20 KB))
In 1991, Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. § 48, which prohibits the interstate sale and distribution of depictions of animal cruelty, in response to the proliferation of animal “crush videos” on the Internet. In 2008, the Third Circuit, in United States v. Stevens, a case involving dog fighting, held that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. In April of 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari. Discussions about the regulation of depictions of animal cruelty have largely focused on whether the child pornography or obscenity exceptions to the First Amendment should be extended to include violent depictions of animal cruelty. This Article suggests that instead of expanding those doctrines, criminal anti-profit statutes or “Son of Sam” laws may be constitutionally applied to regulate the profitability of these images, thereby reducing the incentive to produce such materials and creating a lesser restriction on speech.