Brief Fact Summary. The state of New York passed a bill prohibiting criminals to profit from selling their stories. Instead, any profits from books, movies, etc. are to be deposited in an escrow account for the victims and/or their families.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The government must show a compelling interest for content-based regulation and the regulation must be narrowly drawn to achieve the interest in order for it to be constitutional.
Issue. Is the Son of Sam law an unconstitutional restraint of free speech?
Held. Yes. New York has singled out speech on a particular subject for financial burden that it places on no other type of speech. The state’s interest in compensating victims is compelling, but the law is not narrowly tailored to achieve that objective.
Discussion. Although the state has a compelling interest in the compensation of victims, the law is so broad that it would include all crimes and criminals. It gives no regard for whether there were actually victims or whether the author was ever convicted of the crime. Instead this law would confiscate the profits from all non-fictional crime books.