An Industry On The Brink

Stephen Yagielowicz
It seems like only yesterday since I returned from the Phoenix Forum — that annual gathering where many of the online adult industry's best and brightest meet to discuss the state of the industry and the issues that affect it. While I was there, I got a chance to talk to many wonderful people and even made some new friends.

I also took the pulse of the event's attendees and paid special attention to the overall feel and tone of those who I observed and interacted with. As such, I have come to the conclusion that most people have finally gotten the message that this is a serious business where you have to do the right thing.

While it's encouraging to see and hear adult business owners taking on a greater sense of personal responsibility for their actions, it is quite frightening that there is still so much resistance among certain individuals when the subject of "doing the right thing" comes up.

As an example, I witnessed an exchange between an owner of a thumbnail gallery post (TGP) and one of the top attorneys in the adult entertainment business.

This experienced lawyer seemed of the opinion that an American webmaster would have to be insane to be running a traditional, free, hardcore, thumbs-based TGP site, given our current political climate. Of course, the TGP owner disagreed — a stance that could cost him dearly – particularly in light of the as yet to be defined, but nonetheless enacted – changes to the 2257 federal record keeping requirements.

Perhaps the biggest story of the year and one which may redefine the perception and scope of activities typically considered to be "content production" – the new 2257 requirements may pigeonhole webmasters as "producers." While we in the business consider producers to be "the guys with the cameras," the fact that we "produce webpages that feature adult content" could put us in the same category, at least as far as record keeping requirements go.

Sadly, the vast majority of us are not in compliance with this law and for many, there is no easy – or possible – way to comply.

It's not too late, however, but time is short,; with as little as 30 days before the law goes into effect. Adult businesses need to get their houses in order and become fully compliant with not only the letter, but the spirit of the law – rather than hoping that court action and the efforts of groups such as the Free Speech Coalition will somehow save the day.

Accepting responsibility for the content you distribute — whether in print, online, on video or beyond is the right thing to do and it is part of what attorney Greg Piccionelli describes as becoming "a hardened target," which is less attractive for prosecutors looking for easy pickings.

Beyond legal responsibilities, we as an industry also face human ones. It's been about a year now since the last major HIV scare hit the adult industry, temporarily halting production through a widespread, self-imposed moratorium, signaling an increase in responsibility while bringing about stricter safety policies and production guidelines for many producers. The adult industry has since recovered, but is it really any safer?

XBiz recently examined some of the complex issues surrounding this ongoing problem, as well as the challenges still to be faced in dealing with it. Surprisingly, despite the fact that lives are at risk, some within our industry simply do not give a damn; choosing to place profits over all other concerns. Doubtless some of these same individuals, as well as those with similar mindsets, will proffer a thousand reasons why the new 2257 regulations won't apply to them, or conjure schemes which they unwisely believe will shield them from their legal and moral responsibilities.

While most webmasters do not deal with many of the issues surrounding content production, such as the above mentioned problems with HIV transmittal, we all deal with the distribution of adult content – which carries with it the responsibility of keeping minors out of and away from it – a responsibility many of us who are lacking adequate safeguards may soon be called to account for, facing stiff penalties over violation of the very cut-and-dried 2257 law.