July 16, 2001 03:04am
by: Company Press Release
(TAMPA, FL) -- Entertainment Network, Inc. (ENI) will argue before the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that a federal judge was wrong when she upheld a Tampa city zoning ordinance that seeks to shut down VoyeurDorm.com, a website that broadcasts the lives of college age women, day and night, from a home in a residential area.
The company's lawyers will appear on July 18th at 9 a.m. (56 Forsyth Street N.W.) before a three-judge panel. ENI plans to bring its VoyeurDorm.com World Tour bus with residents from the dorm to the courthouse to help dramatize its argument that attempts by the city to ban the Web business violate First Amendment rights and could have a stifling impact on home-based Web businesses everywhere.
The case began nearly two years ago, when the City of Tampa tried to shut down the dorm on the city's West side, citing ordinances governing adult businesses. The company battled the city into the U.S. District Court in Tampa, but lost when Judge Susan C. Bucklew ruled in summary judgment on November 6, 2000 that the city could consider VoyeurDorm.com an adult business, even though no monies were ever exchanged and no customers ever visited the dormitory.
The ongoing legal battle has turned into a major test case of Internet freedom. The Web cameras follow the six women living in the dorm 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as they shower, sleep, study and party. In exchange for living their lives before the cameras, ENI pays the college tuition for the girls and also pays them a weekly stipend.
``We will argue that Judge Bucklew incorrectly interpreted city zoning ordinances to encompass wholly Internet-based activities that have no impact on the surrounding neighborhood,'' said Mark R. Dolan, attorney for ENI. ``Judge Bucklew's ruling could open the door to cities everywhere shutting down Web businesses just because the city fathers don't like the content of the services offered over the Internet.'' He noted that VoyeurDorm.com Web cameras catch occasional glimpses of the residents of the dorm while they are showering or dressing, but no sexual activity is broadcast and the girls are forbidden to use drugs or do anything illegal. Nonetheless, the city classified the dorm as ``adult'' because it shows occasional nudity.
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.