Adult Entertainment Industry Aims To End Sex Records Law

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

The $13 billion adult entertainment industry, photographers, artists and others plan to sue the U.S. government today challenging what they argue are unconstitutional and overly broad revisions to federal record-keeping law that were implemented just before the Bush administration left office.

The final age-verification rules stem from changes Congress made to federal child safety law in 2006 and took effect this year.

Under the law, which is intended to fight child pornography, creators of images and videos — both in print and on the Internet — are required to keep detailed records of content showing individuals engaged in sexual conduct and simulated sex acts. The obligation applies to “every single sexual image produced by anyone, no matter how innocuous,” said Michael Murray, an attorney for the Free Speech Coalition, which will file the case in a Philadelphia district court.

The requirement pertains to all individuals depicted, regardless of age or whether the content is publicly or privately communicated, he said. That means millions of Americans theoretically are required to comply.

The law also stipulates that a label be posted to show the physical location where the records can be found and permits law enforcement to search a home office or business without a warrant to certify compliance.

“You can’t work from a hunch when you’re talking people’s freedoms,” Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke said. “If you misfile documents, that’s considered a violation, and people can go to jail for that.”

She said the statute encumbers small businesses many of whom find it impossible to comply. It is also unfair to adult content producers who “have to prove innocence even though there’s no guilt involved,” she said.

A similar 2005 lawsuit brought by the Coalition in a Colorado court was dismissed without prejudice in April, which allowed the group to file a fresh complaint elsewhere. The new case raises different issues since there is a full set of rules that did not exist when the prior litigation began, Murray said. Philadelphia was selected because the Constitution was signed there, and its federal court has a history of deciding major First Amendment cases, he said.

The complainants appear to have an uphill battle in a case that could take years to resolve.

The Coalition sent a letter to the Obama administration in January asking for officials to review the record-keeping requirements. Duke received a response from the Justice Department a few weeks ago declining the request. “That doesn’t give us any positive indication that this administration will have a different approach,” she said.

In the letter to Duke, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Laurence Rothenberg said the rule was finalized after serious consideration of public comments. He said numerous changes were made from the proposed rule to ease burdens on adult content producers. “There is no ambiguity about the legal authority for the rule,” Rothenberg added.

by Andrew Noyes

1 Comment

  1. I read somewhere in the comments on this article that Metro have 80 vice cops patrolling casinos. I wonder if vice cops cost more than patrol cops– the ones meant to be protecting us from violent crime? In Las Vegas in 2007 15,296 burglaries were reported to police. But in the whole state of Nevada, there were only 2,889 arrests for burglary.

    Perhaps some of these vice cops could be added to the forces we have fighting burglary. There is clearly a need.

    I think the Vegas public would find that a more useful way to spend our limited resources than having those 80 vice cops buying lap dances in strip clubs or harassing women in hallways of hotel casinos.

    Of course, strippers are half-naked, and don’t carry guns, and neither do women in casino hallways. Burglars probably do carry guns.

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