In a ruling yesterday, the New York Court of Appeals dismissed several counts of possession of child pornography charged to college professor James D. Kent, after a computer he brought to university IT for anti-virus service was found to contain child pornography in its browser cache.
For those specific counts--he's still going to jail on other, related charges--Kent was found to have not committed an "affirmative act" such as downloading, saving, or printing the image files in order to "possess" them; rather, they were passively saved by his browser in its hidden cache.
This may sound like a minute technicality, but it's in fact a revealing comment on the way we consume today's web. It all comes down to one very new problem: the concept of what we "possess" online is based on the increasingly outdated concept of the digital "file." What happens to the law in a streaming, cloud-connected world? A world where there are no more "files"?