This is the Raphael Golb (Dead Sea Scrolls) case that has been much talked about over the last few years. Here is analysis in today’s People v. Golb (N.Y. App. Div. Jan. 29, 2013):
Defendant’s convictions arise out of his use of emails to impersonate actual persons. Nothing in this prosecution, or in the court’s jury charge, violated defendant’s First Amendment or other constitutional rights.
Defendant is the son of an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Defendant set up email accounts in which he pretended to be other scholars who disagreed with defendant’s father’s opinion on the origin of the Scrolls. Among other things, defendant sent emails in which one of his father’s rivals purportedly admitted to acts of plagiarism.
Defendant’s principal defense was that these emails were only intended to be satiric hoaxes or pranks. However, as it has been observed in the context of trademark law, “[a] parody must convey two simultaneous — and contradictory — messages: that it is the original, but also that it is not the original and is instead a parody” (Cliffs Notes, Inc. v Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub. Group, Inc., 886 F2d 490, 494 [2d Cir 1989]). Here, the evidence clearly established that defendant never intended any kind of parody. Instead, he only intended to convey the first message to the readers of the emails, that is, that the purported authors were the actual authors. It was equally clear that defendant intended that the recipients’ reliance on this deception would cause harm to the purported authors and benefits to defendant or his father.
The court’s charge, which incorporated many of defendant’s requests, fully protected his constitutional rights, and the court was not required to grant defendant’s requests for additional instructions. The court carefully informed the jury that academic discussion,