South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Allowing Internet Access to Child Porn Is Illegal Distribution

Appeals court upheld conviction for distribution of child pornography by a computer user who freely allowed others to access his Kazaa folder that contained illegal photographs.

Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words

Peer-to-Peer Network; Shared Folder; Child Pornography; Distribution

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Shaffer used Kazaa to share files in a folder with other Kazaa users. The folder contained child pornography. It was observed by a special agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who could access the shared folder on the Internet. A warrant was obtained, Shaffer’s home and computer were searched, where a Kazaa shared folder containing numerous photographs was found. Shaffer admitted that he downloaded photos to the Kazaa folder. He was charged and convicted of distributing child pornography. He appealed, contending that allowing others to share files is not distribution.


Affirmed. Downloading child porn images and videos from a peer-to-peer network and storing them in a shared file meets the statutory definition of distribution. Shaffer allowed others access to his personal files and invited them to download the files.


U.S. v. Shaffer, 472 F.3d 1219 (10th Cir., 2007)

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