The FSC Wants You
The challenge to the adult entertainment business, the privacy rights of the performers and all of our civil rights presented by the DOJ will not go unmet.
Several months ago, attorney Jeffrey Douglas and I, in association with the Free Speech Coalition, commenced work on the organization and funding of at least two independent lawsuits to challenge the new 2257 regulations on behalf of the FSC.
The lawsuits will be spearheaded by Paul Cambria's law firm (Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury and Cambria), and Louis Sirkin's law firm (Sirkin, Pinales, Mezibov & Schwartz).
Both firms will litigate their respective cases at substantially discounted rates and will be assisted on a discounted or pro bono basis by many other industry attorneys including Jeffrey Douglas, Larry Walters, J.D. Obenberger, Reed Lee, Robert Sarno and myself.
A successful challenge to 2257 could, and probably will, result in a judicial order enjoining the enforcement of the law for many years. In fact, it is our hope that the most, if not all, of the most burdensome regulations, if not the whole regulatory scheme, will be held to be unconstitutional.
If you are in the adult entertainment business, particularly one of the Internet-related segments, I strongly urge you to donate any amount you can afford to the special 2257 litigation fund that the FSC has set up. I have personally contributed $5,000 in cash to the fund, and I will be contributing and additional $10,000 in pro bono services related to FSC's court challenges.
We are all in this together. Or as Benjamin Franklin said back in 1776, as the British forces approached our young country's first capital at Philadelphia, "Gentlemen, if we do not hang together in this time of crisis, be assured that we will all hang separately."
Consequently, I call on every webmaster, content provider, news publisher, payment processor, gentlemen's club owner, adult bookstore owner, attorney, performer and every other person profiting from the adult entertainment business to match my donation or donate whatever you can to this just and worthy cause.
If you can't spare a donation, at least be sure that you and your business join the FSC. That way you and your business will be subject to any court order enjoining governmental enforcement of the regulations against FSC and its membership.
Please contact the FSC at (866) FSC-9373 or my office for further details.
Cure To 2257 Paranoia
Finally, I would like to address the 2257 fear factor. The publication of the new regulations and the resulting firestorm of commentary about the law by lawyers and lay persons alike have understandably produced an environment of fear and uncertainty. I think all of us, maybe particularly the attorneys, should do our best not to further inflame the situation. To that end I suggest we all adopt the following strategy of calm, unity, resolve and education to confront the challenges that lie ahead.
• Calm. Don't panic. This is not the time for hasty and half-baked business decisions that you might soon regret. Have faith that we are in the right. If we do not break ranks and calmly state our case, reasonable minds in the judiciary, the national legislature, the media and the public at large will inevitably recognize the injustice of what the government is trying to do.
While it is true that adult entertainment is disliked, even loathed in many quarters, the public has an even greater abhorrence of any attempt by the government to intentionally silence and stamp out of existence a whole class of protected free speech.
• Unity. The adult entertainment business is estimated to be a $15 billion a year industry in the United States alone. That's bigger than baseball, bigger than football and bigger than the music business. Adult entertainment is one of the major exports of the United States. In fact, it is likely that a majority of the male population of the civilized world under 40 is, or has recently been, a consumer of the American adult entertainment industry. In any given day, more than 100 million people view adult materials of one sort or another.
These are numbers that represent true economic and political power in the raw. Unfortunately, because of the fragmented nature of the adult business, the industry has yet to attain political or economic power remotely corresponding to its size. Because the 2257 regulations pose such a serious threat to virtually every part of the business, the current crisis presents a rare opportunity for the adult entertainment business to unify around a common focus like never before.
The fight against 2257 could and should involve virtually every segment of the greater adult entertainment industry from video producers and distributors to webmasters and payment processors, from adult magazine publishers to audio text businesses, from adult toy manufacturers and distributors to performers, from gentlemen's clubs and adult bookstore owners to satellite and cable companies carrying adult content.
Literally everyone has a dog in this fight. If we can effectively unify for the purpose of employing the industry's enormous economic and communications power to fund our court battles and communicate our message of freedom and tolerance, as I believe we will, our efforts will astonish our allies and confound our enemies.
Unity also means civility to your fellow adult entrepreneurs, especially on the boards. The government is almost certainly monitoring all the avenues of communication used by the business. Consequently, perhaps we should all adopt an 11th commandment: "Do not speak ill of thy fellow adult industry entrepreneurs for it is the government's power abusing censors that are thy real enemies."
• Resolve to assist those challenging the law, but also resolve to comply with law until it is defeated. Please help the Free Speech Coalition and the attorneys in our challenge of 2257's onerous provisions. Please donate whatever you can to the cause. But also, please, do all you can to comply with the law until it is enjoined and hopefully, ruled unconstitutional.
• Education. It is critical that you understand how the various 2257 regulations apply to your business. A thorough table comparing the old regulations, the proposed regulations and the final regulations scheduled to go into effect June 23 can be accessed at J.D. Obenberger's website at Xxxlaw.net. But please remember, 2257 is very serious stuff, and you simply must consult with a competent adult entertainment attorney who understands how the regulations apply to your business.
Finally, most of the attorneys in the business have been warning that this day would come for a number of years. Its arrival should come as no surprise to anyone. I think it's fair to say that all the attorneys in the business, myself included, have been on the receiving end of some cheap shots from time to time regarding how the industry lawyers are just fear mongers trying to scare up business. Perhaps it is now clear why we sounded the alert so far in advance.
Gregory A. Piccionelli is one of the world's most experienced Internet and adult entertainment attorneys. The Los Angeles attorney can be reached at Piccionelli & Sarno at (310) 553-3375 or www.piccionellisarno.com.