Porn News

Changes in 2257

Porn Valley- Webmasters for adult sites are worried that both their profits and freedom to operate may suffer under recently proposed changes to a largely unenforced federal law requiring porn companies to document that performers are of legal age.

Under Title 18, Section 2257 of the U.S. Code created under the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988, producers of adult magazines and movies must make identification documents available to federal inspectors on demand.

But the suggested changes would bring an extensive array of new responsibilities to webmasters. While the current law applies to “primary producers” — photographers, filmmakers and others who actually create adult material — the new changes would affect “secondary producers,” such as websites, that distribute content created by other companies. The result could have far-reaching consequences for the entire adult industry, but it would have a particularly harsh impact on online companies.

Critics say the proposed changes are politically motivated, an election-year move to shut down web porn providers from a conservative administration which has already declared its intent to crack down on smut.

“The proposed changes are horrible,” said Clyde DeWitt, a columnist for the adult industry news site AVN and a partner in the Los Angeles office of First Amendment law firm Weston, Garrou & Dewitt. “Now, anybody who does anything to change an image — duplicating a video, placing it on a website — will have to have records available and indexed for inspection.”

The proposal to change the laws follows a June report from Attorney General John Ashcroft to the House Judiciary Committee on the rule, revealing that there had been no inspections at all since the regulation’s enactment in the mid-’90s. (Although the regulation was approved in 1988, a series of lawsuits delayed its initial enforcement.)

With that report, Ashcroft also delivered a 26-page proposal demanding updated regulations that would take into account technological changes created by the internet.

The proposed modifications were published in the June 25 edition of the Federal Register, and the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section issued an Aug. 24 deadline for written comments.

Under the proposed changes, some forms of ID now commonly used for age verification will no longer be accepted — among them, Selective Service cards and college IDs.

Records for every model or actor would have to be indexed alphabetically by legal name (“or numerically where appropriate”), and include all stage names used since 1992.

The updated regulation would also mandate that records be cross-referenced by title, number or alternate identifier for every publication in which they’re involved — including print, broadcast, online photos, streaming video and other media. Critics say that requirement is overly broad — if a performer’s name appears on thousands of pages at a given porn domain, will the webmaster have to list each and every URL, even if some of them don’t include still or video images bearing the performer’s likeness?

Critics argue that the expanded requirements for keeping personal information on performers could be used by would-be stalkers or identity thieves, since it could include home address records. But the section of changes raising greatest concern among webmasters involves proposed mandatory records inspections.

Under the new rules, federal officers would not be required to give webmasters advance notice for inspections that could take place between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time any day of the year. Producers could be inspected as often as once every four months, and more often if “there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a violation” has occurred.

And under the draft language, inspections and potential seizure of evidence would not be limited to adult-related materials.

“Notwithstanding any provision of this part or any other regulation,” states the DOJ draft, “a law enforcement officer may seize any evidence of the commission of a felony while conducting an inspection.”

In anticipation that the proposed changes will be made law, some technology developers are already introducing products that will help webmasters cope with new record-keeping requirements.

Software development firm mx development recently announced the release of 2257 Register, a product touted as the first designed to help webmasters manage all performer records in a centralized database with digital copies of documentation files and identification photos.

At the same time, adult industry organizations have been lobbying against the proposed changes since the June 25 Federal Registry publication.

“Unlike enforcement of obscenity laws, which require vetting of community standards, this is ‘yes or no, do you have the documents?’ for webmasters,” said one technology provider close to the matter who requested anonymity. “This is a much more efficient way to wipe out online porn, a goal Ashcroft has already stated.”

“What does Ashcroft propose to do with regard to getting offshore sites to comply?” asked Humphry Knipe, producer and husband of veteran erotic photographer Suze Randall. Along with Penthouse and the American Library Association, Randall and Knipe sued the Justice Department in the early 1990s over the porn record-keeping requirements.

“The internet is an international entity. This could be yet another incentive for websites to set up business elsewhere,” Knipe said. “This isn’t a big deal for Hustler or Playboy, but what about some guy who operates a website out of his basement? Will he have to let agents into his home?”

Another requirement raising the ire of porn webmasters is a clause requiring that a statement regarding the location of the custodian of records be published in a typeface at least as large as that in which performers, producers, directors or company owners are displayed.

“If ‘Playboy’ is printed in 180-point type on a magazine cover, the 2257 disclosure would also have to be displayed in 180-point type,” said DeWitt. “If you keep names in smaller size type, the law says it can’t be smaller than 11-point type — how does that work on websites or videotape, where font size is measured differently?”

“I could make a good case for the idea that these regulations are designed to harass people in the adult industry. We already have tough anti-child-porn laws,” said DeWitt. “I see no good reason for many of these conditions, other than imposing an unnecessary harassment for people in a business which is a stated enemy of the Bush administration.”

Citing Justice Department policy not to comment on pending legislation, DOJ Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section press secretary Michael Kulstad declined to speak with Wired News.

According to established federal agency procedure, the proposed changes can be made law once the DOJ reviews and considers public comments. If the proposals are enacted, enforcement is expected to begin in late September or early October — just before the 2004 presidential elections.



Related Posts

Save the Date: AVN House Party Returns on July 25

AVN Media Network is pleased to announce plans to bring back the biggest event of the summer—the AVN House Party—on Thursday, July 25.

UK Tory Minister Blames Joblessness Crisis on Pornography, Video Games

LONDON — The U.K. Tory government’s Work and Pensions Secretary this week blamed “pornography and video games” for what he called “a mental health crisis among young men” which resulted in them leaving the workforce.Mel Stride, a career Conservative politician…

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin Holds Press Conference With Anti-Porn Crusading Group NCOSE

WASHINGTON — Democratic U.S. Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin participated in a joint press conference Wednesday with the CEO of crusading anti-porn crusading group NCOSE (formerly Morality in Media).The press conference was organized by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to marshall support…

VMG Celebrates 10th Anniv. of Blacked With Scene, Gear Rollout

Vixen Media Group is celebrating the milestone 10th anniversary of its original brand Blacked with a string of high-profile releases under the banner and the introduction of a new collection of items in its Blacked apparel line.

U of Wisconsin Professor Pens Essay About Crusade to Get Him Fired for Creating Adult Content

LA CROSSE, Wis. — The veteran University of Wisconsin academic who was removed from his post as chancellor last year because he had made adult content, penned a piece for The Chronicle of Higher Education detailing his ordeal and ongoing attempts…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.