September 22, 2001 01:27am
Court of Appeals Overturns VoyeurDorm Zoning Decision - Allows Website to Remain
Source: Company Press Release
by: Entertainment Network, Inc.
(TAMPA, FL) -- The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned a Federal District Court ruling that the popular Website VoyeurDorm.com was an adult entertainment facility. The three-judge panel unanimously concluded that Federal Judge Susan C. Bucklew misapplied a Tampa City Code because ``the public offering occurs over the Internet in 'virtual space.'''
The ruling, which is seen as a victory for Website operators who conduct businesses from their homes that are not open to the general public, allows Entertainment Network, Inc. to continue to operate the dorm on Farwell Drive in Tampa, where six coeds earn their college tuition by allowing Web cameras to record their every movement, 24 hours a day seven days a week. The city contended that because the women are sometimes seen nude, the dorm was an adult business and should therefore be barred from a residential neighborhood.
Writing for the appeals court, Judge Joel F. Dubina said, ``the audience or consumers of the adult entertainment do not go to (the dorm) or congregate anywhere else in Tampa to enjoy the entertainment. Indeed, the public offering occurs over the internet in 'virtual space.'''
Judge Dubina said it agreed with ENI's argument that ``the public does not, indeed cannot, physically attend'' activities at the dorm and thus it ``does not fall within the purview of Tampa's zoning ordinance.''
``We could not be more thrilled than we are with the judge's ruling since we have contended all along that the government has no right to regulate a home-based e-commerce business,'' said David Marshlack, chief executive of Entertainment Network. ``An Internet site that does not permit access by the public should not be subject to place-based city zoning regulations because it operates in cyberspace rather than in a specific location.''
Attorneys for ENI, Mark Dolan and Luke Lirot, said the appeals court decision is a ``huge victory for the Internet and the First Amendment.''
Mr. Marshlack noted that VoyeurDorm.com and its companion sites, DudeDorm.com with male students and VoyeurCasa.com for the Hispanic market, have continued to operate during the appeals process and will maintain business as usual.
The VoyeurDorm coeds also expressed delight at the ruling: ``We are so relieved that we get to stay in a home we've come to love and to continue our relationships with the thousands of members of the VoyeurDorm.com Website,'' said Ashley, one of the residents.
Tampa-based Entertainment Network, Inc. is a leading supplier of content for the Internet. In addition to Websites that reach consumers directly, ENI operates Web hosting and development companies, including Neutelligent, Inc. and Yseek, Inc.