Webmaster Access Legal Panel Offers Cautious Optimism

Jeff Berg
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The reelection of President George W. Bush and the prospect of another conservative administration looming on the horizon should probably not be viewed as the coming apocalypse for the adult entertainment industry, according to panelists at Webmaster Access’ Legal Issues seminar on Saturday.

Made up of ASACP Executive Director Joan Irvine and well-known adult industry attorneys Greg Piccionelli and J.D. Obenberger, discussion topics ranged from the proposed 2257 regulations to the implications of former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s resignation, but the general tone was one of cautionary optimism.

“I don’t think the new administration is going to mean the apocalypse for the adult entertainment industry,” said Piccionelli. “The administration may bring on the real apocalypse, but they’re not going to kill our business.”

“I don’t think this is an era where we have immediate danger,” agreed Obenberger.

According to Piccionelli, the country is definitely becoming increasingly conservative and the adult entertainment industry should no longer expect the Democratic party to stand behind it.

“Each party is going to try to prove they’re better at protecting family values,” said Piccionelli, who also pointed out that the industry shouldn’t be surprised if Hillary Clinton becomes one of the more vocal opponents to the adult industry.

Piccionelli drew laughter from the audience while reading an Associated Press article about U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, who claims to know middle-aged men that limit their time alone in hotel rooms in order to avoid the temptation of pay-per-view films, but also pointed out that the article was endemic of the next type of attacks that the adult industry will see.

“There’s a paternalistic side of the Democratic party that really wants to protect people from harmful things,” said Piccionelli. “Already, Cal/OSHA is promulgating new regulations for condoms and dental dams in all sex scenes.”

“There are actually people who lie awake at night and worry that other people might be having a good time,” agreed Obenberger.

According to both attorneys, the biggest threat that the adult industry faces at the moment are the proposed changes to the 2257 regulations, which may require all secondary producers to hold 2257 documentation as well as primary producers.

“2257 could become the industry’s Armageddon,” said Piccionelli. “Your liberty and your business are really on the line here.”

Obenberger said that the changes probably weren’t meant to be harassment, but were due more to a lack of knowledge about how the industry was run.

“Not everybody in the Justice Department is a zealot and not every one of them is crazy,” said Obenberger, who even described Alberto Gonzalez, the Bush Administration’s appointee for attorney general, as “bright” and having “been involved in socially good things.”

Though Obenberger said that he doubts Gonzalez, who may be intending to use the attorney general position as a stepping stone to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, will do anything controversial with regards to the adult industry, the threat of 2257 isn’t something that should go unnoticed.

“Do everything you can with regards to the proposed 2257 regulations,” Obenberger said. “Don’t take any content if they won’t give you the documentation.”

Irvine expressed a similar sentiment earlier in the discussion when she pointed out the image problems currently afflicting the industry.

“We are legitimate businesses in the adult entertainment arena,” said Irvine. “[but] like it or not, the public puts [the adult industry] and child pornography together.”

Irvine noted that an example of that image problem occurred earlier in the day when a wedding party was also scheduled at the hotel and the Doubletree staff went to great lengths to make sure Webmaster Access attendees did not interact with the party.

According to Irvine, the best way for the industry to improve its image is to show mainstream society that its capable of policing itself.

“It’s important for the government to see that we’re monitoring ourselves,” Irvine said, who recommended following ASACP best practices guidelines and being proactive in scrutinizing content.

The legal issues seminar was sponsored by CECash.