FSC Summit Spotlights 'Code of Ethics,' 'Anti-Counterfeiting'

Emma Edwards

HOLLYWOOD — Free Speech Coalition CEO Diane Duke on Wednesday moderated a panel of adult film advocates, industry professionals and fellow FSC members to kick off the 2014 FSC Summit, which is being held in conjunction with the XBIZ 360 events series this week at the W Hollywood Hotel.

Titled "Code of Ethics - Seal of Approval," the first seminar of the event encompassed the importance of implementing, following and promoting a strong, workable Code of Ethics model for the adult industry. In addition, the speakers explored ways to curb the distribution of counterfeit pleasure products online.

Duke began the panel by stating, "It's not only important to reintroduce this model to the industry but to actually use it as a tool for our industry to better communicate who we are to the public."

This gave way to Duke's advocacy about not only supporting the freedom of sexual expression and the continued advancement of the adult industry, but also for promoting a solid foundation of professional and ethical practices that includes a comprehensive, six-step model.

The first step was Respecting Self Determination, which states that adults should have the innate right to make their own decisions regarding their bodies and personal sexual practices. This also includes taking steps to prevent unwanted exposure to adult content through use of appropriate technologies and warnings, promulgating health testing and safe-sex practices, as well as educating adult performers of any potential risks due to the nature of their work.

Next, the panel spoke of the adult industry's obligatory stance to protect minors from exposure to adult content. "Our products are for adults, by adults," Duke said. "We don't market to kids. We make sure that we participate in filtering that will help parents teach their children how to be appropriate internet citizens."

The dialogue continued with discussions about the critical nature of safeguarding the privacy of consumers, adult employees and performers, as well as promoting responsible sexual conduct on and off set.

"Where there are extraordinary people that have been in business for over forty years, there are also people who are entering the industry every 40 minutes," remarked FSC board chairman Jeffrey Douglas. "This is why it is especially important for our Code of Ethics to be broadly spread so that people entering the industry can have these ideas in their minds. There is a clear, articulated basis for how business is supposed to be done."

Next, after discussing the positive effects that a FSC Code of Ethics Seal of Approval can have on a business, Bob Christian, general manager of Adam & Eve, remarked, "Implementing the Code of Ethics and having the FSC Code of Ethics Seal of Approval is a way for you to set yourself apart from the competition. It also informs people about the positive aspects of the industry and gives way to educating people about the industry's honorable practices."

Larry Garland, owner of Eldorado Trading, noted, "One of the reasons why the Code of Ethics is effective with policymakers is that when you articulate the Code of Ethics and put it into people's hands you are saying, 'These are the standards that we expect you to judge us by. If we fail to do these things, you have a basis to criticize us.' That inspires trust in people."

Garland's point drew a hearty applause from the audience.

The second FSC Summit panel of the day was titled: "FSC: 'Hey! They Are Selling My Products on eBay!' — A Discussion on Anti-Counterfeit Pilot Results."

It featured several luminaries from the pleasure products and retail sectors of the adult industry including: Hui Bushman from The Screaming O; Tom Stewart from Sportsheets; intellectual property consultant Vaughn Greenwalt; and Piracy Stops Here/Porn Guardian founder, Peter Phinney.

The group addressed topics regarding online piracy and the escalating pitfalls that pertain to the unlawful distribution of pleasure products online.

"I'm working with an anti-pirate consultancy to the adult entertainment industry to get stolen, pirated products removed from offer," Phinney said. "Since 2010, we've removed almost eight million files from offer online and represent over 390 different adult entertainment brands."

With his system now in place, Phinney continues refining his service that includes the removal of counterfeit items and knock-off products that promote false authenticity from the internet, as well as DVD bootlegs. With the escalation of this online threat, more adult businesses are seeking the help of Phinney's company. "We are at a point right now where we can start making a difference," FSC's Duke said.  

The group said what some people don't understand is that online counterfeiting not only affects the unlawful selling of inferior products, but it is also a direct way of damaging brands and reputations as well.

"The problem that we have is that people want to put our brand personality on their inferior product," said The Screaming O's Bushman. "Now, our name, Screaming O, is almost being taken in vain. We have seen people selling Screaming O shoes and everything else. Every time a counterfeit, imitation, inferior product is sold, it sullies our brand reputation and our brand personality."

Despite constantly creating new products and promoting positive brand imaging through quality wares, counterfeiters continue producing inferior merchandise at an equal rate, the panel said.

"Porn Guardian can tend to the weeds in this business and pluck these guys out," said the Sportsheets founder Stewart. "We have to get these guys, or at least make them duck and fear the repercussions for their unethical practices."