The “Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act”, commonly known as “USC 2257” is a law which places stringent record keeping requirements on producers of sexually explicit material. Specifically, producers of sexually explicit must maintain proof-of-age records, including copies of state issued IDs, dates of birth, legal names, and even maiden names of all performers. Producers now just live with this law, and it’s as if we have forgotten its very damaging effects.
The issue that angers me most is that the law extends to the ‘secondary producer’, which includes anyone who simply reproduces those image — whether it be on a commercial blog, a tube site, or a magazine — without being involved in the actual production. This means that performer’s personal information, including copies if their IDs, has to be distributed to the myriad of people who republish material in an attempt to comply. This is a dangerous and clear violation of the model’s privacy rights, and what seems like a deliberate attempt by the federal government to create a barrier for entry and dissuade performers from sex work.
This law also impedes free speech in a violation of the first amendment. For instance, I would *love* to send a director on a tour of the German sex club scene and shoot spontaneous, authentic scenes. Such material would expose and educate us all about a vibrant subculture. Heck, it might even inspire people to want to open sex clubs locally. Once, without fully understanding 2257, a director shot such as scene for me. He told me all the participants agreed to be filmed and everyone at the club was required to be over 21 anyway, so what’s the problem? The problem is I could go to jail if I publish it. To be legal, we would have obtain copies of IDs and have participants fill out complex paperwork — this works for a few participants, but it is virtually impossible when dealing with spontaneous crowd scenes.
So what is it like to be young and hot and get fucked in a German sex club? What’s the hopping underground BDSM scene like in London? Go there and find out for yourself, because 2257 makes it near impossible for someone like me to expose it for you. That’s not just upsetting, it’s tragic. Now consider swingers magazines — they cannot legally be sold under 2257. The problems of 2257 are profound.
We live in a time of complacency. Due to a liberal administration, there has been no 2257 enforcement in years. As a result, many companies do not fully comply. I remember harder times under Bush — some smaller producers lacked the resources to comply and actually shut down. Membership to the Free Speech Coalition soared as a defense was put together.
If (when) we get another conservative administration, it seems likely that unless 2257 is struck down now, the next industry-wide attack from the federal government will be 2257-based. The Free Speech Coalition is mid way through litigation to overturn 2257 and they badly need your help. Without it, the efforts could be abandoned. Please visit their website and donate if you can.