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Feds: Connection Distributing Needs to keep records of age, federal court rules

Cleveland- A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a ruling that publishers of sexually explicit photographs must keep age and identity records of those pictured and make the records available for inspection by the government.

The ruling stems from a case originally filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland 14 years ago by a local company that publishes magazines aimed at “swingers” — adults who seek multiple sex partners.

Connection Distributing, headquartered on Kelley Avenue, argued that having to keep such records suppresses the free expression of the company and its subscribers, who place sexually explicit advertisements for themselves in the publications.

Congress required such record-keeping as part of the Child Protection and Obscenity Act of 1988 to reduce the chance of underage models being used in publications.

Since then, the matter has bounced back and forth between the courts. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 11-6 to uphold a U.S. District Court ruling that the law is appropriate.

Connection Distributing is not giving up. The company will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Michael Murray, an attorney for Connection Distributing.

Murray said the record-keeping statute is too broad and that the vast majority of the people who advertise with Connections are 30 years or older and cannot possibly be mistaken for minors.

But the court’s majority opinion argued that an appearance-based standard was not a sufficient safeguard, in part because pictures may depict only body parts, making the person’s age difficult to discern.

The record-keeping statute applies to both print and Internet publications.

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