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US House votes to ban animal cruelty videos

The US House of Representatives [official website] voted Monday to ban animal cruelty or crush videos, revising the 1999 legislation [18 USC § 48 text] that was struck down by the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] in April. The Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010 [HR 5566 text, PDF] maintains that creating, selling or distributing animal crush videos, which feature small animals being tortured or killed, is a crime punishable with up to five years in prison.The revised legislation more narrowly defines what constitutes a crush video, excluding videos depicting "customary and normal veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices," as well as videos of hunting, fishing or trapping. Originally passed by the House in July, the Act slightly alters the language approved by the Senate in September and will now go back for reconsideration.

The House was forced to revise the Act following the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Stevens, in which the 1999 law was struck down [JURIST report] for being substantially overbroad and therefore in violation of the First Amendment [text]. Legislators hope that the new amendments to the law will afford it greater enforceability and staying power in their efforts to ban crush videos. Following the Supreme Court's decision, animal rights activists focused on the narrowness of the ruling, as well as the dissent, and called on [JURIST comments] Congress to revise the law.

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