A federal judge has ruled that a home-based voyeuristic Internet company that beams the daily activities of a group of women into cyberspace must move from a residential neighborhood.
At Voyeur Dorm L.C., women billed as college students are shown undressing, showering, eating and sleeping. Computer users can watch live video of everything that happens in the house for a $34 monthly fee.
Despite the order to move, the Web site was still broadcasting the women’s activities and accepting new memberships early today.
The city said in September 1999 that Voyeur Dorm is an adult business that violates zoning laws and tried to shut it down.
Attorneys for the Web site countersued to thwart the city’s attempts to equate it to a strip joint. The suit claimed the ruling was unconstitutional because it restricted the plaintiffs’ rights to privacy and free speech.
U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew on Monday granted the city’s motion for summary judgment on the Web site’s lawsuit.
“That means we won the case at this level,” Tampa City Attorney James Palermo said Monday night.
Voyeur Dorm won’t be shut down immediately and Palermo expects an appeal, he said.
Attorneys for Voyeur Dorm could not be reached Monday night, according to a report published today in The Tampa Tribune.
Adult Cyber Business Not in a Zone
Lawyers for the company previously admitted it is an adult entertainment business. However, they also argued that Voyeur Dorm is never visited by paying members of the public, and doesn’t have any impact on the surrounding neighborhood. That would make the zoning laws invalid, they said.
Bucklew countered by asserting that the city code doesn’t address the public paying money on the premises, and wouldn’t construe the code’s language to favor the Web site.
She also said the zoning law is intended to “protect and improve the quality of residential neighborhoods.”
In May, Entertainment Network, Inc., the operators of Voyeur Dorm, sued CBS and Infinity Broadcasting, saying the companies stole their ideas for the show “Big Brother.”
Entertainment Network’s lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan alleges that CBS executives reneged on a proposal to develop the show.
Entertainment Network this summer launched askoj.com, a site that gives Internet surfers a chance to ask football Hall of Famer and former murder defendant O.J. Simpson questions and to buy Simpson accessories.
It charges a $9.99 membership fee.