California Internet Real Estate Restrictions v. Zinneman
IJ Challenges California's Licensing Requirement for Internet Ads of Homes for Sale By Owner

IJ clients and entrepreneurs, Colby Sambrotto and Damon Giglio, founders of, a New York Internet advertising and information service.

May the government restrict the speech of real estate advertising websites by forcing them to become licensed?  The Institute for Justice doesn’t think so.  It filed a federal court lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento challenging California’s onerous licensing regime on behalf of two Internet real estate advertising companies — and a California affiliate that publishes magazine in Sacramento.  California requires Internet advertising companies, like, to become licensed real estate brokers in order to provide their service.  The First Amendment guarantees not only that Americans may speak their minds without having to obtain approval of government censors, but that they may send and receive information vital to their daily lives as well.  Laws such as California’s that require a license to distribute such information or otherwise unreasonably impede its flow should be struck down.

This is an important test case with broad implications for e-commerce and First Amendment jurisprudence. At a time when information is more important to the economy than ever before, government remains a serious impediment to the free flow of information and the economic benefits it promises.

Essential Background


Backgrounder: A Web of Restrictions? Challenging California’s Free Speech Restrictions on Internet Real Estate Advertising Sites

Client Photo

Client Video - none available


Latest Release: State of California Won’t Appeal’s Victory In Online Real Estate Licensing Case (December 20, 2004)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

District Court Decision (November 18, 2004 – 1.2 MB)

Launch Release: Lawsuit Challenges California’s Free Speech Restrictions On Advertising Websites (May 14, 2003)

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


May 14, 2003

Court Filed:


U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento




Current Court:


U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento


Defendant’s motion to dismiss denied in February


Discovery ended April 15, 2004


Motion for summary judgment filed early summer 2004

Next Key Date: 


Hearing dates to be determined

Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Federal Court Declares California’s Online Real Estate Licensing Law Unconstitutional (November 22, 2004)

none available

Release: Internet Publishers Win As Federal Court Rejects Motion to Dismiss California Free Speech Case (February 19, 2004)

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: IJ Knocks Internet Licensing Law Offline, Liberty & Law (February 2005)

Article: IJ Fights Web Of Internet Licensing; Liberty & Law (February 2005)

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