"New" 2257 Regs in a Nutshell

Tom Hymes
As most of you have probably heard, the DoJ is publishing the "new" 2257 regulations in the Federal Register today, which means they will go into effect in ninety days. I am sure industry attorneys will weigh in ad nauseam with interpretations of what the regs say, and this time around we can only hope and pray, and then pray some more, that they find common ground on which to agree (I jest), but in the meantime, the bullets below (courtesy of DoJ!) will give you an idea of the changes Justice has agreed to make.

  • Consolidated the publication of the final versions of the two proposed rules into one final rule;
  • Ensured that the regulatory requirements applicable to depictions of actualsexually explicit conduct consisting of lascivious exhibition apply starting on the date of availability of the statutorily provided safe harbor;
  • Permitted the use of third-party custodians of records;
  • Permitted records to be maintained digitally;
  • Clarified the exemption from the record-keeping requirements for those engaged in distribution;
  • Clarified that, for purposes of the requirement that every page of a webpage contain the disclosure statement, a hyperlink or “mouseover” is permitted;
  • Eliminated the requirement that statements on the location of records contain a date of production (or any other date), although added a requirement that primary producers create a record of the date of production;
  • Clarified the application of the requirements regarding location of the statement to DVDs; and
  • Eliminated the detailed information required by the certification regime, and replaced it with a significantly simpler certification.

Personally, I think the ability to use off-site third party entities to keep 2257 records is pretty damn huge, and should save a lot of the smaller people a lot of time, money and aggravation in the long run. I think it is safe to say that the DoJ just helped create a cottage industry within adult.

Way to go, coppers!

One area I will need clarification on has to do with adult sites that allow user-generated content (i.e. Tubes, dating site, etc.). My reading tells me that while some of them are exempt from 2257 requirements, the uploading producer of the content is not.

"...Businesses such as dating services that in fact do not produce depictions of sexually explicit conduct, are not the entities that are responsible for record-keeping and disclosure statements. Those responsibilities in those circumstances would fall upon the individuals who post graphic content on the site."

DoJ also says that adult Tube sites "... may be exempt from keeping records, since the original individual producer who posts a depiction on that site is required to affix a disclosure notice to each page of the sexually explicit depiction..."

Seems pretty clear, but what I don't see is what happens to the site if the uploader does not provide 2257 documentation in the form of a custodian of record name and address and the site still allows the content to be uploaded. I would presume that they then lose their safe harbor.

Also, if I'm reading this provision correctly, what will its enforcement do to the illegal Tube model that continues to bedevil the industry? Will "civilians" actually include such documentation? Doubtful. And what about uploaders of illegal content? Will they provide 2257 along with the contraband? Doubtful as well.

Is DoJ unwittingly handing the industry a solution to the illegal tube dilemma? Or is it trying to unconstitutionally stifle yet another form of speech, but this time that of regular citizens?

I'm just asking.