Murder videos are video recordings that depict the intentional, unlawful killing of one human being by another. Generally, due to their obscene nature, murder videos are absent from mainstream media. However, in the wake of Vester Lee Flanagan II’s filmed murders of reporter Allison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward on live television, it is perhaps only a matter of time before murder videos become an acceptable form of entertainment. Further, Americans should be wary of potential “copycat” perpetrators and their thirst for infamy via immortalization on the Internet, as the free dissemination of murder videos provide extra incentive to commit heinous acts for the sake of shock value. Both the societal acceptance of murder videos as entertainment and the emergence of copycat perpetrators pose risks to society that outweigh any benefits viewing murder videos could possibly have. Thus, it is necessary to prevent murder videos from being infinitely viewed on websites hungry for hits.
This Note explores the world of murder videos and why Congress should legally address them immediately. This Note argues that murder videos are obscene content and thus are unprotected by the First Amendment. This Note further argues that a federal statute is necessary to combat murder videos and that a narrowly tailored federal statute can pass constitutional muster. In addition, this Note proposes a model federal statute that can serve as a basis to regulate murder videos. In brief, this Note exposes the current and prospective harms of murder videos and urges that a narrowly tailored federal criminal statute is the proper solution to counter the negative impact murder videos have on society.