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Calif. Court Rules Against College in Internet Case

(CN) - A community college violated the state education code by restricting a student's Internet access, a California appeals court ruled. Patrick Crosby had a pair of run-ins with campus authorities at the Saddleback College library.

First, he was detained by campus police for viewing MySpace profiles on the library computer. The officer said MySpace was a kid's site, so it was inappropriate for the 58-year-old site to be viewing it.

Second, Crosby argued with a librarian who asked him to turn down the volume on the music he was listened to on his headphones.

The college responded by placing a temporary hold on Crosby's student records. After the hold was listed, Crosby sued the South Orange County Community College District, challenging its policy restricting Internet use to "appropriate academic, professional, and institutional purposes."

Crosby argued that the policy violated the Education Code, which protects students from discipline for on-campus conduct that would be protected by the First Amendment if the conduct occurred off-campus.

Justice Aronson of the 4th dDistrict Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's ruling but declined to find the district's policy unconstitutional.

"Plaintiff's interpretation would provide free-speech protection for any act on campus that would be permitted if it occurred in the home," Aronson wrote. "This interpretation ... would lead to absurd results. For example, a student could not be sanctioned for standing up in the middle of a lecture and yelling expletives."

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