Legal Question in Technology Law in California

Pornography stored online vs on hard drive - legal?

If someone is sent pornographic images (nudity) of someone under 17 to a web based email account, such as gmail or yahoo, and they view the images but do not download them is this a crime in the state of California?

In other words, if an image is never on your hard drive, is it ''yours'' and could you get in trouble simply for receiving and viewing it in an email?

For the record no child porn is being distributed/received (nor will it be), regardless of the answer.

Asked on 1/23/09, 10:41 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Johm Smith tom's

Re: Pornography stored online vs on hard drive - legal?

They couldn't see the images unless they had been downloaded; so they probably are still on their computer. And yes that all is a federal crime.

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Answered on 1/25/09, 6:30 pm
Timothy J. Walton Internet Attorney

Re: Pornography stored online vs on hard drive - legal?

In order to view images, the file is downloaded to the hard drive, at the very least to cache. Thus is it possible to have child porn on a hard drive even if there were no intent to view the image.

That said, it is unlikely that a person would face serious criminal charges for the unwitting receipt of email which contained unlawful images.

If one receives unlawful images by email, options include:

alerting the authorities

deleting the message

finding the image on the hard drive and deleting the image

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Answered on 2/25/09, 11:58 am

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