Martin Rimm

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Martin Rimm (born c. 1975) gained notoriety in 1995 while an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University. He wrote an article published in The Georgetown Law Journal titled "Marketing Pornography on the Information Superhighway: A Survey of 917,410 Images, Description, Short Stories and Animations Downloaded 8.5 Million Times by Consumers in Over 2000 Cities in Forty Countries, Provinces and Territories."[1] which claimed among other things that (as of 1994) 83.5% of the images on Usenet newsgroups where images were stored were pornographic in nature.

Prior to the publication of Rimm's research, Philip Elmer-DeWitt used it in his Time Magazine article, "On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn."[2] Rimm's findings were quickly attacked by journalists and civil liberties advocates who insisted that the findings were seriously flawed. "Rimm's implication that he might be able to determine "the percentage of all images available on the Usenet that are pornographic on any given day" was sheer fantasy" wrote Mike Godwin in HotWired. [3] Rimm's research was cited during a session of U.S. Congress.[4]

A detailed account of this episode can be read on "Fighting a Cyberporn Panic", chapter 9 of Mike Godwin's book, Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age (Revised and Updated Edition, MIT Press, 2003).


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