Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors

565 F. Supp. 2d 981 (S.D. Ind. 2008)

Most recent action

Media Coalition members won their challenge to a registration law that would have infringed on the First Amendment rights of book, music, and video stores. Businesses would have been barred from selling any material that contains “sexually explicit” content unless they registered with Indiana’s Secretary of State. The Court found the statute unconstitutional in many respects.  The case is now finished and Media Coalition and the other plaintiffs received legal fees from the state of Indiana in January, 2009.


On July 1, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker, of the Southern District of Indiana, granted summary judgment[1] permanently barring enforcement of Indiana’s retailer registration law originally House Act 1042. The law would have required any retailer, and possibly any person working for a retailer, that opened or relocated after June 30 that sold or intended to sell a single item which was harmful to minors to register with the Secretary of State. Registration would have to have been accompanied by a list detailing the types of material carried by the retailer that could be harmful to minors. After a retailer registered, the Secretary of State would have then notified local governing bodies and any appropriate zoning authority of the retailer’s registration. There would have been a $250 fee to register and noncompliance would have been a class B misdemeanor.

Media Coalition Action

Media Coalition filed a complaint[2] on behalf of their member plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, Indiana, on May 7, 2008, challenging a registration law that infringed on the First Amendment rights of book, music and video store retailers.  Media Coalition also issued a press release[3] on the same day.  Plaintiffs asked that the court declare the law to be unconstitutional and prohibit the state from enforcing it.

Media Coalition member plaintiffs were American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, Entertainment Merchants Association, Freedom to Read Foundation, and National Association of Recording Merchandisers, The Indiana Civil Liberties Union, Great Lakes Booksellers Association, Big Hat Books, Box Car Books and Community Center, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Indianapolis Downtown Artists & Dealers Association were also plaintiffs.

Last updated: Sep 21, 2017