Canadian Adult Companies Fear 2257 Dilemma

Matt O'Conner
TORONTO — While U.S. adult companies await Judge Walker D. Miller’s impending ruling on the Justice Department’s amended 2257 record-keeping regulations, Canadian companies are preparing for the worst.

Among the provisions of 2257, the regulations would force all porn producers doing business in the States to provide the names and addresses of all performers dating back to 1995.

The Free Speech Coalition, along with several other members of the adult industry, filed a motion in June to block enforcement of 2257.

Though lawyers for the FSC did win a temporary injunction against enforcement, Miller has not issued a final ruling regarding the regulations, which Canadian adult producers say is directly at odds with their country’s privacy laws, not to mention their own ethics.

In short, should the fail to get 2257 overturned, Canadian producers will face the dilemma of violating one country’s laws in order to comply with the other country’s laws.

For example, if Canadian webmasters abide by Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which forbids them from making public confidential information on adult performers, they could face five to 10 years in U.S. prison.

West Vancouver, British Columbia-based Sweet Productions has made it clear which side of the law it falls on. The company has petitioned the Canadian and British Columbian privacy commissioners to speak out against 2257 and bring to bear political weight on the issue. So far, the privacy commissioner has refused to take an official position on the subject.

“We want to make sure the U.S. government knows the regulations contradict statutes not only in Canada, but also in the United Kingdom and Europe,” producer Max Sweet told XBiz.

Sweet has said he will refuse to do that— and is urging other Canadian content providers to stand with him.

For West Island, Quebec-based producer Linda Aylesworth, the issue isn’t just a matter of what’s legal and illegal; it’s a matter of what’s right and wrong.

In addition to making identities of performers available to law enforcement, 2257 also would give affiliate sites access to the information. Aylesworth, who runs Naughty Niche, the parent company of and other adult sites, worries that stalkers could become affiliates simply to get the addresses and names of performers.

"I make a personal promise that their identities are going into a filing cabinet and won't go to anybody without a court order," Aylesworth told the Montreal Mirror. "I think it's very dangerous. A model is going to turn up dead."

While Greg Jones of Montreal-based shares Aylesworth’s concerns, he said not doing business in the United States would have devastating financial repercussions.

"I'd say 90 percent of the market for Montreal companies is American," Jones said. "So we have to submit to their rules."

Still, Aylesworth stressed that she would rather risk extradition and prosecution under 2257 than violate that trust of performers and put them in potentially dangerous situations.

"I refuse to provide [private information] to anybody. It's just basic common sense and ethics. You don't put profits over lives. I personally have no intention of complying," she said.