XBIZ Summer ’06 Forum Seminar: Uncle Sam is Watching You

Michael Hayes
LAS VEGAS — Attempting to separate fact from fiction, Stephen Yagielowicz moderated a panel of attorneys specializing in online adult entertainment, who told the crowd that taking a measured, professional approach to educating themselves on the legal issues that face the industry was the only way to adequately protect their businesses.

Addressing the perception that attorneys in the industry have been too quick to hype the potentially catastrophic effects of laws such as the federal record-keeping requirement 2257, Greg Piccionelli rattled of a list of just a few legal issues adult webmasters need to keep an eye.

“There is an expansion of 2257 that changes the definition of the producer,” Piccionelli said. “Another law may mean that every adult webmaster must keep records. Under 2257[A], there’s a proposal to expand record-keeping to simulated sex acts, not just actual sex depictions. There’s net neutrality, the idea of equal pricing for bandwidth. If that goes away, you can bet adult content will be charged a premium. There’s a mandatory .XXX in the pipeline, as well.”

Amid all the pending legislation, Piccionelli had one overwhelming concern — The Pornography Jurisdiction Limitation Act.

“This is something we should all be worried about,” Piccionelli said. “This law would actually take away the best tool your lawyers have — the right to go to federal court and challenge state obscenity laws.”

J.D. Obenberger followed Piccionelli’s survey on the legal issues facing the industry with a call for professional and personal responsibility among webmasters.

“The biggest mistake webmasters make is that they don’t think about the people who don’t like porn,” Obenberger said. “Spamming and other bad business practices can be penny-wise and dollar-foolish. You can party your way to becoming a millionaire, but if you don’t take responsibility, you could find yourself in real trouble. Better to hire a lawyer, who can help you avoid prosecution.”

On the much talked about, but often misunderstood, subject of obscenity, Lawrence Walters presented “10 Myths About Obscenity.”

“A lot of people think that porn is protected speech,” Walters said. “That’s a myth; it’s presumed to be protected, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be arrested or prosecuted.”

Walters also went onto dispel other myths about obscenity prosecutions, telling the crowd that trials could be brought anywhere in the country against anyone in the chain of distribution.

Walters closed with an optimistic sentiment echoed by all three panelists.

“You don’t need to throw in the towel after hearing the bad news,” he said. “You can do a lot to educate yourself; hire an attorney and protect yourself from losing your business to government prosecution.”