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Violet Blue vs. Violet Blue; Nick Manning vs. His Landord and the 2257 Sixth Circuit Decision

Porn Valley- During an interview with attorney Michael Fattorosi on KSEX last week, we talked about some of the current legal stories involving adult business performers.

The Nick Manning story was one of those- Manning is battling a landlord who wants to terminate the lease of his LA Exotique store in Encino,

“He [Manning] called the Free Speech Coalition for help,” Fattoris says. “And Diane called me to help him but I guess he’s hired another attorney. He [Manning] is claiming it’s a free speech issue. And I can tell you from dealing with leases that it’s probably a lease issue. I went through this – I just signed a new office space lease, moving in January.

“When the building found out what we do and who we represent,, they went nuts over it. We’re lawyers. We don’t produce porn. We don’t make porn.”

“Isn’t that stuff ironed out before you get to that point where somebody goes haywire?” I ask.

“It should have been,” comments Fattorosi. “Obviously when you walk in the door and say you want to lease space or retail space- the first question should be what are you doing with this. I’m shocked that it’s gotten to this point. And this is the first time it’s come up when they see him open the doors and put out the signs and put out the mannequin?

“I drove past the store the other day on the way to lunch, and there’s a mannequin outside his store with lingerie on and thigh highs. I’m like, wow, that’s really out of place in Encino.”

“And with most leases they require you disclose what you’re going to be doing in the store,” Fattotosi goes on to say.

“If they didn’t disclose it, that’s a problem. But if they did disclose it and made the landlord aware, he signed the lease- and so the landlord’s going to try to wiggle his way out if he doesn’t want the store there. And you’re going to try to say, hey, you signed this lease, so if you want me to move you’re going to have to pay my damages to move. This is all speculation at this point.”

Then we talked about the Violet Blue case in which the writer Violet Blue is suing the porn star Violet Blue, a former KSEX employee.

With the Blue case [plus the fact that Katsumi was ordered by a French court to fork over money to a woman with the same name] I was wondering if this would open the door for discount lawsuits against porn performers.

“Violet Blue [the writer] from what I read has trademarked her name,” says Fattorosi. “If she can prove that she was using the name before, that she was first in commerce and that the trademark is registered to her and that there was no objection to it, she has a very strong claim in blocking Violet Blue the porn performer from using her name. You cannot, though, trademark your real name. You can trademark a stage name. ”

Fattorosi also agreed that IP law is very complicated.

“And there’s a lot of issues in adult involving IP, intellectual property.”

On the 2257 ruling in the Sixth Circuit last week, Fattorosi saw it as a great ruling for the industry.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals- a very conservative court- would have this kind of ruling coming out of Larry Flynt’s old stomping grounds,” comments Fattorosi.

“It’s an amazing victory for the adult entertainment industry. The problem is it only applies to those four states: Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky.”

Co-host Lynn LeMay observes that porn law in those states was pretty rigid.

“Porn law as far as being able to produce content- anywhere in the United States is tough,” Fattorosi hastens to remind.

“California is the only place where people can legally produce adult content and be protected. That question I can’t tell you how much that crops up in my practice.”

From her own experience LeMay said there were certain states you didn’t bring movies to when you danced and Kentucky and Tennessee were certainly among them.

“I’m trying to figure out how I can encourage my clients to move to Kentucky or Michigan or Ohio,” Fattorosi quips.

“That would be the capitol of porn in the United States. It would be hard to do 2257 inspections. You don’t make it there. You just keep it there.”

“It’s an extremely well written opinion,” Fattorosi continues. “It’s very well thought out by the judges even to the point of where the one dissenting judge had to concur with the majority opinion. And that’s excellent news.”

Himself not a First Amendment attorney, Fattorosi said in speaking to others that are, everyone’s excited but no one’s saying it’s a complete victory.

“It’s not a complete victory,” he emphasized. “It only applies to those states. What the DOJ’s going to do with this, what the Attorney General’s going to do with this is up in the air.”

At the time of the conversation, Fattorosi said they could decide on whether to get an en banc opinion.

“You have an opinion that’s well written and this encompassing- they basically said you are chilling Free Speech by requiring 2257- and they’ve shown very good examples why Free Speech would be chilled by 2257 which has been everyone’s argument all along. It’s amazing that a court has been able to stand up and say we agree with that argument.”

LeMay said she was very happy to see this decision, not wanting to see her ID information being passed around.

“I would like to keep my personal business personal,” she says.

Adds Fattoroi: “Even in those areas outside the Sixth Circuit- I believe- I’ve had discussions with agent Joyner who is the FBI agent in charge of the inspections- I think redacting, meaning blocking out some of the pertinent information on performers drivers licenses will be allowed.”

“Girls want to put their fingers over their credit cards,” LeMay observes. “And they want to put their fingers over the last numbers of their social security cards. Because if they sold this content to ‘Joe’ then they get our real names, our social security numbers, our birth dates, they can basically get any kind of ID with our information that they want.

“I’ve been in the business 20 years,” she gowes on to say. “My stuff’s passed around to everybody. That makes me very uncomfortable.”

Because she’s had a stalker find her children, LeMay said she was very interested in hiding her identity if she could.

“Personally I don’t think 2257 is going away completely,” Fattorosi adds.

“If I was coming into the industry right now I might think twice about doing it because my information would be out there and it restricts your rights of Free Speech. It restricts your rights to be a performer and to express yourself how you like to express yourself.

“And it opens yourself up to some very weird people,” adds LeMay. “Anybody can say, oh, I like her, call a content company, get a copy of one of my scenes, and get a packet of paperwork with anything they need to know about me. That’s pretty scary.”

“That’s chilling,” Fatorosi agrees. “That’s why the Sixth Circuit has seen in their good sense to throw out this law and say we will not allow it to apply in these states.”

LeMay said everyone in the industry should send attorney J. Michael Murray a thank-you note. Fattorosi also agreed and said that applies to the defendants as well.

“This case has been meandering through the courts since 1995,” he said. “I read a lot of boards, a lot of forums about how come Free Speech didn’t say anything. This is a case that’s gone up and down again. Literally, it’s been a slow go. And this company fought it on its own. No knocking the FSC or the rest of the industry.

“This is not litigation that was funded by Free Speech. This was funded by the people at Connections Distribution Company. How this evolved is that they owned a magazine for swingers and the John Does in the case wanted to put their pictures in the magazine. Basically what they said is we’re not going to do this because now we have to put our address out there and our real names out there.

“This is affecting my speech and that’s how this case came to be and 12 years later we get a victory. And it’s good to see. The nice thing to see is that this is a victory in a very conservative court. Which mean that people in Washington can’t turn around and say, ‘this is a way whacked-out liberal court out in California, hey they don’t know what they’re doing and we’re going to over write this law and change this decision.’

“They’re going to have to listen to these judges,” Fattorosi continued.

“Especially if the DOJ goes en banc, and en banc supports what these three judges are saying. If they push it to the Supreme Court level and the Supreme Court throws it out, now you have 2257 that doesn’t apply anywhere.

“When you least expect it is when something good happens. And this could be used in a lot of other litigation and by a lot of the other defense attorneys that are defending people on 2257 criminal charges.

“There’s a case going on now in Los Angeles where a gentleman is being prosecuted for obscenity, and they’ve added 2257 on to his obscenity prosecution- but it’s [the Sixth circuit ruling] only persuasive in other circuits. It’s not controlling.

“They can completely ignore this. No other judge is bound by this other than the judges that are in those states.”


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