18 USC 2257 Compliance

Stephen Yagielowicz
In an era where everyone in the industry seems to agree that we are increasingly coming "under the gun," it is amazing that so many adult Webmasters remain seemingly oblivious, ignorant and uncaring of the consequences of not complying with federal record keeping requirements.

While the Department of Justice has as of yet failed to undertake any inspections of documents required pursuant to the existing statute, the possibility of a five year jail sentence doesn't seem to be of concern to most adult site operators as evidenced by their total lack of compliance with the law.

The harsh fact of the matter is that I doubt that even 1% of adult sites (including free, AVS and pay sites) are in compliance with the law in this regard; with TGP sites (and the galleries they display) being among the most common offenders I see these days.

Let's face it folks: the DOJ doesn't have to launch costly, time-consuming obscenity trials where issues of community standards, First Amendment rights, and the Miller Test come into play in front of a jury, with outcomes that are not guaranteed, in order to eliminate the domestic Internet porn industry. They simply need to go site to site, and door to door, and knock out operator after operator for non-compliance of 2257. Aschcroft and friends know this, and it amazes me that they have yet to start the dominoes falling...

Ignorance Is Bliss
Perhaps folks simply don't realize that they're required to have compliant documentation for every image (including videos, and yes, even banner ads) on their sites that display "sexually explicit conduct" and that failure to have this information can land them in jail. Well, you should realize it now...

While I won't reprint the entire statute here, I will comment on some common misconceptions.

The biggest misconception I find is in the wording of some adult site's "2257 statement." Remember, incomplete compliance is non-compliance; and so simply stating that "All models were over 18 at the time of production" or some such is just not adequate enough. You need to state where the documents proving the model's age and identity can be found for inspection during normal business hours, and who is personally responsible for providing them to the proper authorities upon their lawful demand.

This doesn't mean a post office box, or a company name, or an email address, it means "a statement describing where the records required ... may be located ... [and it must] include the name, title, and business address of the individual ... responsible for maintaining the records..."

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of adult Webmasters who operate their companies as home-based businesses, this in fact does mean putting your name and home address clearly visible on the porn you're producing, spread out all over the Internet for everyone to see... Now many of you will think "I don't want people knowing what I do and where I live!" Well, if that's how you feel about it, then that means that in your heart you know that what you're doing is wrong, and you should stop. If you can't handle that, then you shouldn't be in this business.

Another misconception is the "safety in numbers" argument, which usually goes something like this: "Look at all of these TGP sites and everyone else who doesn't have a 2257 statement! The government can't go after everyone, so why should I bother being in compliance?" It's kind of like in the movies where the good guy is facing 7 bandits, but only has 6 shots in his gun. There's always a loud-mouthed bad guy who steps up and declares "You can't get all of us!" Yep, he's usually the first one to get shot. The point is really simple: no, they may not get everyone, but since they might get YOU, it's YOU that YOU need to be concerned about...

If you're in full compliance with the requirements of 18 USC 2257 (because your attorney told you that you are), then good for you. You just might be around when the dust settles. If you're not, or if you haven't discussed this issue with an attorney knowledgeable in these matters, then consider this a wake up call.

Relying on message board gossip and articles like this one to keep you out of jail is simply stupid, and nothing in here should be considered legal advice. If you're smart, however, you'll listen to what I've said, and get yourself in compliance – today! Stay safe! ~ Stephen

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