Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 11, 2009

City Zoning Code Does Not Reach Cyberspace: Adult Activities Inside Residence Broadcast Over the Internet Immune from Zoning Regulations

Following a ruling in June holding that the Plaintiffs, Flava Works, had standing to challenge the application of the zoning ordinance of the City of Miami to its virtual adult use, the District Court granted the plaintiffs summary judgment.  Flava Works operates CocoDorm.com, an Internet-based website that transmits images, via webcam, of male residents engaging in sexual acts in a dwelling (that is leased to Flava Works) in exchange for free room and board, entertainment equipment, and payment.  None of the webcams are located outside of the residential dwelling, no external images of the residence are publicized or broadcast by Flava Works, and the address of the residence was not disclosed on the website nor in any of the Flava Works, Inc.’s products.       

 

The City of Miami posted a notice of violation at the residence, alleging that the Plaintiff was illegally operating a business in a residential zone, and further that as an adult entertainment establishment, Flava Works was operating unlawfully in a residential zone. Following a hearing before the City’s Code Enforcement Board, Flava Works was found to be operating the Cocodorm in violation of the City’s zoning code.

 

The District Court judge determined that the 11th Circuit ruling in Voyeur Dorm, L.C. v. City of Tampa, 265 F.3d 1232 (2001) was controlling, even though the language in the local zoning codes was not identical, because the facts of the cases are “materially indistinguishable.” The Court found that the Miami zoning ordinance, which defines “adult entertainment or services establishment” to include the term “establishment…which offers,” “connotes a brick-and-mortar facility, capable of geographic location, where the consuming public could go to partake in the offered goods, entertainment or services.” The Court concluded that because the public offering occurs in cyberspace, and not in a particular geographic location, the City’s zoning ordinance cannot be applied to the residence.  The Judge further noted although the website would likely not exist without the activities taking place at the residence in question, that does not make the activities a “business,” nor does it make them susceptible to application of the City’s zoning code.  Therefore, the Court found that the activities taking place at the residence “do not amount to the unlawful operation of a business in a residential zone.”

 

Flava Works, Inc. v. City of Miami, 2009 WL 199086 (1/27/2009).

 

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/11478248/Miami-Ruling

 

Read what the Miami Herald had to say: http://www.miamiherald.com/884/story/884570.html

                                          

Check out Marc Randazza’s take on the case at: http://randazza.wordpress.com/2009/01/31/voyeur-dorm-redux-coco-dorm-wins


Responses

  1. nice share you have here, keep up the good work !


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