Rep. Pence Bends to Hollywood’s Demands, Revises Bill

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON – Bowing to the demands of the mainstream entertainment industry, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., has promised to revise his proposed child pornography bill, HR 3736, giving mainstream movie studios a way to avoid compliance with U.S.C. 18 § 2257 regulations.

Prior to his promise to change the bill, the “backdoor” provision to the Children's Safety Act of 2005 titled “Strengthening Section 2257 to Ensure that Children Are Not Exploited in the Production of Pornography,” would have required television and movie productions that feature simulated sex scenes to provide documentation on the names and ages of the actors who engaged in the act, a custodian of records and a video label indicating compliance with the law.

The provision also would apply to retail stores that previously were exempt from the law and would authorize forfeiture of assets related to both child pornography and obscenity cases, expand administrative subpoena power in obscenity cases, and broadly prohibit the production, transport, distribution and sale of obscene materials.

Saying that his intention in drafting the bill was to target child pornographers, Pence said he had in no way intended to put the mainstream, or “legitimate” entertainment industry, under a similar microscope as the porn industry and those who produce child pornography at home using underage children.

"I do know there are some concerns in the entertainment industry about reporting requirements being extended," Pence said. "We're in conversations now with the legitimate entertainment industry."

Last week, some of the major Hollywood studios made it known that they were concerned by the extensive ramifications the 2257 provision of the Child Safety Act would have on their industry. Calling the bill “overly broad,” Erik V. Huey, an attorney representing the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, said the bill violates the constitutional protections of free speech.

The Los Angeles Times reported that several Hollywood studios even sent lobbyists to Washington in the hopes of derailing support for the bill.

The Children's Safety Act is scheduled for a vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 20, but it remains unknown if that vote will be on the revised version of the bill or the original.

In the meantime, representatives for the Motion Picture Association of America have vowed to aid Congress in the effort to eliminate child pornography across all mediums.