Unauthorized E-Mail Forwards Illegal, Arkansas Law Professor Says - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Little Rock, AR

Unauthorized E-Mail Forwards Illegal, Arkansas Law Professor Says

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Forwarding an e-mail may be as simple as a mouse click or two.  But a law professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville believes it violates long-standing laws protecting letter writers that go back to the days of quill pens.

Assistant Professor Ned Snow makes that argument in an article to be published in the Kansas Law Review.  He says common law protects text message and e-mail writers from having their words forwarded or published on Web sites for public view.  Snow acknowledges, though, that only a court case could decide whether electronic work is protected or if fair-use laws allow for mass distribution.

Recently, a Seattle-area graphic designer posted a fake personal ad as a woman, then posted the replies and photos sent to him on a Web site.

Not everyone agrees with Snow.  Others watching communication in the electronic age believe the laws of 250 years ago wouldn't apply.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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