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Team of Industry Lawyers Challenge 2257 Amendments

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Oct 20, 2004 1:27 PM PDT    Text size: 
CANOGA PARK, Calif. – In anticipation of the federal government publishing Attorney General John Ashcroft's final amendments to current 2257 law, a group of adult industry lawyers have partnered with the Free Speech Coalition to challenge the issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Based on the strong belief that the 2257 amendments will pose a serious threat to the adult webmaster community by extending the chain of record keeping responsibility from producers to secondary producers, Greg Piccionelli, Jeffrey Douglas, Paul Cambria, Louis Sirkin, Reed Lee and Robert Sarno have all agreed to donate a substantial amount of their professional time to file two separate lawsuits in Federal District Court against the Justice Department.

"We're in this together," Piccionelli told XBiz. "If these regulations go into effect, a lot of people could go to jail. It's the government's weapon of mass destruction and we've got to take this thing out. Then the government will be forced to focus on what they should, like child porn. These amendments are a back door way for the government to prosecute normal content, and this is what we're trying to knock out."

According to Piccionelli, the group of lawyers are coordinating a "full frontal attack" on the regulations through a multi-jurisdictional approach.

The purpose of filing two lawsuits, which will be filed through Paul Cambria and Louis Sirkin's respective law firms, is because there are so many issues with the amended regulations that addressing them all as part of one single lawsuit would be impossible.

The FSC has been tapped as the plaintiff in both cases because it does not distribute content and is the industry trade association that deals with matters such as 2257. The FSC is also not subject to the requirements of 2257 record-keeping laws.

"As soon as the final regulations are announced, we want to be ready to go to Federal District Court to seek an injunction on behalf of the FSC and its members," the FSC said.

According to Piccionelli, the purpose of preparing for the lawsuit before the regulations have even been published is to get the judge to enjoin the regulations immediately before they go into effect. If the regulations are not challenged, adult webmasters who have not complied with the considerably stricter guidelines would be immediately be liable.

The amended regulations are currently in a holding pattern before being published in the Federal Register, after which they would go into effect within 30 days.

Of primary concern with the amendments is that the Justice Department has now broadened the definition of what an adult producer is to the extent that it could now include not only the original producer, but the content provider and possibly subsequent website operators that deal with the same content.

The consequences of non-compliance could be dire for many webmasters, the lawyers agree, considering that 2257 law has never before been enforced by the government. And on the eve of the possible re-election of George Bush, an attack against the adult industry could easily be used by the government to support its political agenda and maintain strong support from more conservative Americans.

Another scenario, Piccionelli predicts, could be that if Bush loses to Sen. John Kerry, he could leave the amended regulations as a "goodbye present" for the Kerry presidency to clean up after he's gone.

"There are so many permutations," Piccionelli said. "The random element of going after a bunch of porn people could galvanize the religious right, but it could also alienate voters who don't want to see their tax dollars going into the fight against porn at this time in history."

In the meantime, Douglas and Piccionelli have donated thousands of dollars of their own time to get the project organized and to oversee the legal work from both law firms. All of the lawyers involved have also agreed to do the work at a fraction of their normal fees.

The FSC has set up a fund to support the legal challenge and is asking the online adult community to donate up to $5,000 exclusively for the 2257 litigation fund.

All questions regarding donations should be directed to the Free Speech Coalition, Jeffrey Douglas at (310) 576-3411, Jjdxxx1@gte.net, or Greg Piccionelli at (310) 553-3375, Greg@brupic.com.

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