Will 2257 Prove Deadly to Live Feed Sites?

Matt O'Conner
LOS ANGELES — During the question-and-answer portion of the Free Speech Coalition’s meeting on the new 2257 regulations, one webmaster asked whether he would be exempt from the record-keeping rules if his site offered only live feeds and no recorded material.

His face, and those of many others in the room, dropped when he heard the answer.

According to attorneys Jeffrey J. Douglas, Reed Lee and Allan B. Gelbard, the new rules actually require websites to record live feeds they otherwise would not record and then maintain the recorded material for no less than seven years.

“It’s equivalent to the DMV, which is a regulatory agency, ordering everyone who drinks alcohol to drive a car in order to see if they’re drunk driving,” Douglas later told XBiz.

According to Douglas, the government has devised a perfect Catch 22. “Since the statute itself is limited to material that’s recorded, having the Justice Department order you to record something you otherwise wouldn’t record forces you to comply,” Douglas said.

“It grossly expands the scope of the statute’s authority by covering people who otherwise wouldn’t be covered. A regulatory agency doesn’t have the authority to expand the group of people covered under a statute. If you are deliberately not engaging in a behavior covered by a statute, you have every right to do that.”

Douglas said attorneys for the adult entertainment industry in their comments to the Justice Department had argued that such a requirement would place an excessive burden on websites. “We told them, in three months, [the recordings] will hit a terabyte of storage, and that’s with very high compression,” Douglas said.

Justice’s response, he said, was “It’s no big deal.” The department justified the decision by saying webmasters could keep low-quality, black-and-white recording of the feeds and speculated that as-yet-undeveloped storage technology would ease the burden by lowering costs.