Feeds

US court sides with Janet Jackson's breast

No fine for 'Nipplegate'

SANS - Survey on application security programs

America's puritanical streak goes only so far. Today, a US appeals court vaporized the $550,000 fine the FCC famously slapped on CBS for showing the country a majority of Janet Jackson's right breast.

At halftime of the 2004 Super Bowl, as he warbled "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song," pop prince Justin Timberlake removed a portion of Ms. Jackson's bustier, and CBS showed nearly 90 million people her nearly bare breast for nine-sixteenths of a second.

Though Timberlake called the incident a "wardrobe malfunction," the Federal Communications Commission soon dropped a $27,500 fine on each of the 20 CBS-owned stations that aired the Super Bowl, a yearly advertising extravaganza/sporting event. The $550,000 penalty was the largest ever for an American TV broadcaster.

But this morning, a trio of judges ruled that the fine was "arbitrary and capricious." In the past, the judges say (PDF), the FCC's definition of indecency did not include stuff that disappears in the blink of an eye. In deciding that a barely noticeable bare breast was indecent, the commission was ignoring its own better judgment.

"During a span of nearly three decades...the commission consistently explained that isolated or fleeting material did not fall within the scope of actionable indecency," the judges say. "Like an agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second guessing. But it cannot change a well-established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure."

The FCC had argued that its fleeting material policy applies only to expletives - not bare breasts. But the court destroyed this argument as well. "The balance of evidence weighs heavily against the FCC's contention that its restrained enforcement policy for fleeting material extended only to fleeting words and not fleeting images," the judges continue. "Three decades of FCC action support this conclusion."

US law bars radio and non-cable stations from broadcasting sexual or excretory material between the hours of 6am and 10pm. That's when the kiddies may be watching. When Ms. Jackson's bare breast appeared, a record 500,000 puritans phoned the FCC to complain. Apparently, they weren't comforted by the sun-shaped shield covering her nipple.

In the wake of the incident - dubbed Nipplegate - the big-name American TV networks quickly added delays to their live broadcasts. And just weeks later, after U2 front man Bono used a word beginning with F during an NBC broadcast of the Golden Globe awards, the FCC did in fact change its fleeting material policy.

But like CBS, NBC has challenged the decision. There's hope for America yet. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
APPLE FAILS to ditch class action suit over ebook PRICE-FIX fiasco
Do not pass go, do cough (up to) $840m in damages
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.