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It is certainly true that the First Amendment is not as broad as popularly conceived. Be that as it may, I don't think it would take a great stretch to characterize high resolution images of Israel as political speech.

I'm not a First Amendment lawyer, but this strikes me as unconstitutional. I'm sure there are other lawyers on here with a better recollection of Con Law I. Thoughts?

I suspect the reason it hasn't been challenged is that Google doesn't want the fight and others would have standing issues.

Just for the record, the First Amendment covers more than simply political speech. See long line of cases distinguishing pornography from obscenity.




The Supreme Court has the power to rule on matters pertaining to pornography and obscenity because that's not protected speech either. Their resolution to the obscenity cases was to implement a non-ban ban on such material, relegating decisions pertaining to what's obscene to "community standards".

Characterizing satellite photography as protected political speech sounds like a stretch to me. I'd be surprised if it passed judicial muster. If it's political speech, what's the political position? That Israel or the Palestinians are bad? That their borders as drawn are right or wrong?


It may be that you have your starting point wrong. As I understand it, all speech is protected, except for "certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech." Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. Obscenity is one such class; speech creating a clear and present danger is another.

The point is, speech is presumed protected. By what virtue would high resolution pictures of Israel not be protected free speech? It's not libelous, obscene, seditious, or any other exception I can think of.


Political speech?

A company pays to have a satellite built and then put into orbit, and then sells licenses of the images the satellite takes.

That is commerce, not political speech.

If you started a non-profit that built and placed into orbit satellites, and then freely distributed those images, I would agree with your argument.




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