ALBANY, New York — Viewing child pornography on the Internet without taking further action such as printing or saving files does not necessarily constitute possession, New York’s top court ruled on Tuesday. The ruling by the Court of Appeals dismissed two of the 143 counts of possession of child pornography for which James Kent, a former professor at Marist College, was convicted in 2009.
When a Web page is viewed, a copy of the page is stored in a computer’s “cache,” which allows that page to load more quickly on future visits. The court found that while Kent had saved some of the files in question, he had only viewed others and was not aware of his computer’s cache function. To “possess” cached images, “the defendant’s conduct must exceed mere viewing to encompass more affirmative acts of control such as printing, downloading or saving,” Judge Carmen Ciparick wrote for the court.