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Suit challenges animal cruelty image ban

July 21, 2007 at 9:33 PM   |   Comments

MIAMI, July 21 (UPI) -- A federal lawsuit has been filed in Miami challenging a 1999 U.S. law prohibiting interstate sales of images of animal cruelty.

The lawsuit is an outgrowth of a controversy surrounding the marketing of online feeds of cockfights in Puerto Rico. All 50 U.S. states ban cockfighting but the practice is legal in Puerto Rico, and the toughsports.com Web site markets cockfights to U.S. customers, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Jason Atkins, whose Hollywood, Fla., company -- Advanced Consulting and Marketing -- is behind the Web site, told the newspaper the Internet feed explores cultural traditions, and is protected free speech.

"It's a historical sport; they've been practicing it for thousands of years, and I'm just documenting it," said Atkins.

His company is behind the lawsuit challenging the 1999 law, which makes it illegal to create, sell or possess a depiction of animal cruelty with the intention of selling the depiction for commercial gain.

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, told the Post the Internet transmission of cockfights should be illegal.

"It's an indefensible form of staging fights -- watching these animals hack each other to death," said Pacelle. "Any sensible person can see there is no socially redeeming aspect of cockfighting."

© 2007 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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