trends

It's Been a Busy Year

Gregory A. Piccionelli
When I first learned from XBIZ Publisher Tom Hymes that he planned to focus the feature articles of the October 2007 issue of our beloved publication on "the business of law," I must admit that I wondered whether all the frontline legal battlefield reporting this year by my old friend had caused him to suffer something like a "law O.D." or some kind of "lawyer toxic shock."

After all, this has been one hell of a news year for important legal events affecting the industry, and Tom — along with the rest of the XBIZ reporting staff — has been right in the middle of it. From the titanic battle over the proposed .XXX top-level domain to new 2257 regulations affecting virtually everyone in the business to the rampant content piracy threatening the economic core of the industry, I knew that these and literally scores of other legal-interest stories have been occupying an unusually large amount of my XBIZ comrades' waking hours. Perhaps, I thought, all the law on the brain might be causing my layperson counterparts to take leave of their normally excellent journalistic senses.

But as I settled in to write this article, I considered that I had just booked my travel arrangements to journey back to Washington to once again represent clients who had been invited by the government to a second historic face-to-face meeting with the FBI agents in charge of the 2257 inspections.

I then realized that this was shaping up to be an interesting month as the FBI meeting would take place exactly one week after I responded to another important invitation: a request by a number of content producers to participate in an unprecedented meeting of their peers to address the growing threat of unchecked content piracy. I then realized that all of this had occurred within a month of my co-counsel Gary Kaufman and I learning that we had obtained an important victory completely vindicating our client SexSearch in a vexatious lawsuit brought by a greedy enemy of the industry, which, had the outcome been otherwise, could have opened the doors to numerous predatory lawsuits against adult websites. I then began to reflect on how privileged I have been to be given the honor of representing so many great companies and so many truly talented and innovative entrepreneurs in so many matters over the years. I pondered my good fortune and how I also have been truly blessed to have been allowed to fight for the adult entertainment industry and for freedom of expression in battles such as the .XXX TLD threat and the Free Speech Coalition's court challenges to the 2257 regulations and Utah's so-called "child protection" do-not-email registry law.

My reflection caused me to contemplate how extraordinary my career and those of my partners have been because we chose to represent adult entertainment clients when most other attorneys would not. I also thought about how our decisions were not unlike those made by our clients in the choosing of their careers, i.e., to take a disfavored — if not forbidden — path.

And how for both our clients and ourselves the decision to take the less-traveled road resulted in extraordinary and unexpected rewards.

In our case, providing us with unique opportunities that have consistently enabled us to practice at the very cutting-edge of law and technology and the ever-evolving vanguard of culture and creativity.

So, while contemplating nearly two decades of adult entertainment practice, from the early days when we defended the rights of bulletin board systems and audiotext companies, to the days we started representing the first adult Internet companies, to the defense of those companies from FTC charges, to our acquisition of pioneering patents for the industry's innovators, to our development of new techniques to protect websites and gentleman's clubs from prosecution and vexatious litigation, to more than a hundred appearances on panels at industry shows and functions around the world and thousands of meetings with some of the world's most famous, infamous, interesting, creative, powerful and sometimes, shall we say colorful, personalities who make up this wild and wacky business — loosely quoting the Dead's lyricist Robert Hunter — it occurred to me: "What a long, strange trip it's been." But it's been a trip that, given the choice strange or not, I would elect do it all over again — in a New York minute.

It was then that I saw the conception of the "law biz" edition by XBIZ might not have been the result of too much exposure to lawyers and the law after all.

Instead, I realized that dedication of the October issue of XBIZ World to the business of adult entertainment law is yet another great honor, one that recognizes that we adult entertainment lawyers are as much an integral part of the business as the performers (except, of course, that they are better-looking naked, so we do it in our briefs).

But all kidding aside, the most important message that I would like to convey in this month's column in this special law biz issue is: gratitude. I would simply, sincerely and humbly like to thank all our clients and the adult entertainment industry as a whole for providing me and my law firm the many opportunities to fight for your rights and for the protection of our most important freedom — the freedom of expression.

Thank you.

Gregory A. Piccionelli, Esq. is one of the world's most experienced Internet and adult entertainment attorneys. He can be reached at Piccionelli & Sarno at (310) 553-3375 or at greg@piccionellisarno.com.

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