Live

Watch CBSN Live

Disney Opposes Web-Porn Bill

The Walt Disney Co., already under boycott by some religious groups, is seeking to be exempted from a proposed law aimed at keeping Internet pornography away from children, according to Republican congressional staffers.

The GOP-sponsored Child Online Protection Act, the second major effort by Congress to protect children on the Internet, would require commercial Web sites to verify an adult's age before showing photographs or other material "harmful to minors."

The House passsed the bill Wednesday.

Disney, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and other groups are lobbying Republican leaders, said the GOP staffers, speaking on condition of anonymity. They were pressing for language limiting the bill only to a company that displays online harmful material "as its primary or principal course of trade or business," according to lobbying documents.

As written now, the bill would apply to all companies that display such material on the Internet "as a regular course of such person's trade or business."

"That particular loophole could easily be used by the adult-oriented sites to circumvent the whole intent of the law," said David Walsh, director of the National Institute on Media and Family. "You'd have to get into the definition of primary or principal."

Disney said in a statement it "is extremely concerned that children be protected from exposure to inappropriate content on the Internet" and "has been working with members of Congress to improve the language" of the bill.

Others lobbying for the change said they're concerned that a bill aimed mostly at pornographic Web sites might inadvertently snare mainstream sites, especially as the Internet matures into an entertainment medium that could include the delivery of movies.

"We have concerns that the current language is too broad," said MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor. "We support changes to the language that would target and impact commercial adult Web sites."

Disney, whose business has long been entertainment mostly for children, has been the target of a largely ineffective boycott by some religious groups, notably the Southern Baptist Convention and the conservative Focus on the Family.

They object to some of Disney's policies, including providing health benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees, and to films such as Pulp Fiction by its Miramax Film Corp. subsidiary.

Disney, with $22.4 billion in sales last year, operates "Disney.Com The Web Site for Families" through its Disney Online business, part of the company's massive "creative content" division that overall is responsible for nearly half its revenues. That division also covers Miramax, The Disney Store, home video releases, and some television shows.

But since Disney's "primary or principal business" isn't showing harmful material online, the company wouldn't fall nder the new law if the wording were changed. Most other entertainment companies also would be exempted from the law.

The Clinton administration opposes the legislation (at least, pending a study of online pornography), saying it prefers the use of high-tech tools by parents over a "static, imperfect solution" such as a new law.

The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, largely parallels legislation offered in the Senate by Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., which is part of a Justice Department spending bill awaiting a vote.

Congress is scheduled to adjourn Friday.

View CBS News In