Thanks to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the audience for Web logs can continue to grow: Today a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed a California federal district court's issuance of a permanent, state-wide injunction preventing California from enforcing a policy that prohibited state prisoners from receiving mail that consists of items downloaded from the Internet. The opinion explains:

In 2001, Pelican Bay [State Prison] adopted an internet-generated mail policy that provided: "No Internet Mail. After reviewing staffing levels and security issues internet mail will not be allowed. To do so would jeopardize the safety and security of the institution." The policy prohibits only mail containing material that has been downloaded from the internet but is not violated if information from the internet is retyped or copied into a document generated in a word processor program. The policy prohibits photocopies of downloaded internet materials but not of non-internet publications. Pelican Bay receives at most 500 pieces of mail containing internet materials, out of 300,000 total letters per month. 

At least eight other California prisons have adopted similar policies. Prisoners are not allowed to access the internet directly, so Clement asserts that the policies effectively prevent inmates from accessing information that is available only on the internet, or is prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to obtain through other methods. For example, there is record evidence that several non-profit groups, such as Stop Prisoner Rape, publish information only on the internet, and that many legal materials are readily accessible only on the internet.

 You can access today's per curiam opinion at this link.