Watch out, West Coast Web jesters, because a new California law prohibiting online impersonations officially went into effect this weekend
. Violators of SB 1411
will face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a year in jail. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 1411 back in September, and immediately drew the ire of free speech advocates
from around the country. While the law doesn't explicitly address free speech concerns, it does specify that perpetrators must demonstrate a clear intent to harm, intimidate, or defraud the individual being impersonated -- or, for that matter, anyone else.
The law's structure lends itself to obvious debate. How, for example, will a California court distinguish satire or parody from fraud or slander? On the other hand, it does provide targets with newfound (and sorely-needed) legal recourse. "Almost all cyber-harassment goes unpunished," San Francisco lawyer Erica Johnstone tells ZDNet. Many cyberbullies, she adds, often ignore lawsuits, or force "default," monetary judgments, which can be difficult to enforce. But SB 1411, Johnstone argues, could radically change that. "[T]he criminal aspect of SB 1411 means that those who impersonate others online will face real-world consequences for their actions," she explains.
Nevertheless, the intense controversy surrounding the measure suggests that SB 1411 may face substantial hurdles in the future. And, like pretty much anything else, its fate will likely be determined before in court.
In April 2006, Elle Girl's print edition was closed down, but the Web site lives on at ellegirl.com.
Though it will be folded into Seventeen magazine, the teen version of Cosmopolitan will publish its last print issue in December 2008. It will live on at CosmoGirl.com.
Christian Science Monitor
Founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, this venerable paper will move all its daily content to the Web starting in 2009, though it will still publish a weekly print version.
Was it too snarky for its own good? We'll never know, but this modern-day successor to '80s-era Spy magazine shut down in October. AMI, owner of the National Enquirer, bought RadarOnline.com, however, which will focus on celebrity gossip a la TMZ.com.
US News and World Report
Once a serious competitor to Time and Newsweek, US News and World Report is now best known for its College guides, which it will continue to publish. The weekly newsmagazine, however, will be turned into a monthly, and all daily operations are moving to the Web at usnews.com.