>Action alert! Feds move to restrict sexual content. (Yep. Even more than now!)

>Apparently, we’ve had our head in the sand about the pending deadline to submit comments on proposed federal regulations effecting the production and distribution of sexually explicit content. That pending deadline is now very pending, as in Monday, September 10th.

In a nutshell, obstensibly intended to prevent the use of underage performers in adult entertainment, 2257 regulations have been on the books since 1988 and in effect since 1995. To comply with the regulations, producers are required to complete a records keeping compliance form for every model/performer who appears in any work, ie photo, film, video, including depictions of “actual sexually explicit conduct.” This form asks for all kinds of personal information, including the performer’s legal name, date of birth, any and all stage, webhandles(?!?) or pseudonyms used, and it asks for personal ID numbers, along with an attached photocopy of the performer’s ID. These records are to be kept on file by the producer, cross-referenced so that they are easily retrievable by performer name and/or title of the work, and readily available for inspection by the attorney general or “his or her designees.”

Recent amendments to 2257, which were proposed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush on July 27, 2006, expand these regulations to:

* Cover a new class of so-called “secondary producers,” meaning anyone…
(ii) digitizing an image, of a visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct; or, assembling, manufacturing, publishing, duplicating, reproducing, or reissuing a book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, digital image, or picture, or other matter intended for commercial distribution, that contains a visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct; or ‘‘(iii) inserting on a computer site or service a digital image of, or otherwise managing the sexually explicit content, of a computer site or service that contains a visual depiction of, sexually explicit conduct.

Sound like anyone you know? Probably closest to home, this will apply to websites, many of which you possibly visit on a daily basis, including, as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force recently pointed out, adult social networking sites such as Gay.com, AdultFriendFinder, Bondage.com and SwingLifestyles. Anyone who is a “secondary producer” will now need to have copies of the 2257 record for each and every model/performer depicted and keep those readily available for inspection, as above. That’s alot of forms.

* Cover simulated sexual conduct in addition to actual sexual conduct. While there is apparently some provision for a safe harbor that might protect mainstream (aka non-adult) entertainment producers from the regulations, that provision is yet to be defined. And whether the largesse will extend behind the coffers of big-business Hollywood to embrace independent producers will also need to be seen. And aside from all that, what precisely equates simulated sex?

* Lump in the “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person” as a new, fifth type of regulated depiction. You can probably guess where we’re going with this, but in whose eyes is something determined to be lascivious? In case you’re wondering, the regulated depictions already covered are “sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex; bestiality; masturbation; sadistic or masochistic abuse” (In case you’re wondering, as we certainly were, what the hell is “sadistic or masochistic abuse?” – and for the switches among us, shouldn’t it be and/or – it’s another one of those terms that could mean nearly anything. For instance, a recent Google search turned up a city code with this definition: “…flagellation or torture by or upon a person clad in undergarments, in a revealing costume, a mask or bizarre costume, or the condition of being fettered, bound or otherwise physically restrained on the part of one so clothed.)

Overall, a burdensome series of hoops that will do little to nothing to protect children and serve only to chill the open expression of sexuality. (We’re certainly feeling chilled!)

So, bottom line?
If you’re a producer, secondary producer and/or consumer of any depictions of sexually explicit conduct, actual or simulated, produced for the adult entertainment world or not – and/or you’re a supporter of full sexual expression for all – submit your comments protesting these regulations by Monday, September 10th.

Address your statements to: Admin.ceos@usdoj.gov .

IMPORTANT : Be sure to include the following in your email subject line: (Section 2257 Docket No. CRM 104).

For some samples of what you might write:

From the Gay Lesbian Task Force a letter focused largely on the rules’ effect on adult-social networking sites

From the Free Speech Coalition, some guidelines on submitting comments that relate to the rules’ effect on the adult industry, including economic impact; look also for the 2257 FAQ talking points available for download at the bottom of the page.

From the Pro-Porn Activism Blog, letters – main body and comments – from a pro-porn, free speech perspective

Whichever works best for you, just make sure it’s in by next Monday, September 10th!

(Oh, yeah. Please note that we are not an attorney and none of the above should be construed as anything resembling legal advice.)


Comment: 1

  • Alessandro Machi September 6, 20072:11 pm

    >On the surface I don’t think the new rules are as bad as is being presented, however…

    Someone who voluntarily posts a revealing picture of themself from their own computer onto a website that welcomes those kind of photos should not be forced to give out all kinds of personal information as well. Forcing the website owner to keep ultra detailed info about that person when the person voluntarily posted the picture themself seems excessive.

    Although how would the website owners know that the picture posted is being posted by the person in the image? On the other hand, if the person submitting a photo is fraudulently submitting information, how would the website owner know?

    Secondarily, if the website is not charging a fee to those who post pictures of themselves, then the website should have no need to request and keep records about social security numbers and other intimate information about their members.

    There appears to be a blurring of the line between commercial use and personal use, and that is something I generally don’t agree with.

    What I do find dangerous is the governments growing efforts to force it’s citizens to be an “information collector” for the government, or face the consequences and be labeled a law breaker.

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