The high-profile injunction case of Defense Distributed, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of State involved the federal government’s effort to prevent the online distribution of 3D printing files for the critical “lower receiver” component of the AR-15 rifle. The district court declined to grant a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the relevant laws and the Fifth Circuit affirmed. In an observation broadly applicable to litigation about online postings, the Court noted: “If we reverse the district court’s denial and instead grant the preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs-Appellants would legally be permitted to post on the internet as many . . . files as they wish . . . [which] would remain online essentially forever, hosted by foreign websites such as the Pirate Bay and freely available worldwide.” A thorough and strongly-worded dissent took issue with the First Amendment ramifications of the panel opinion; a petition for en banc rehearing has been filed and is pending as of this post. No. 15-50759 (Sept. 20, 2016).
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