Attorney Walters Comments on Proposed 2257A

Joanne Cachapero
ORLANDO, Fla. — First Amendment lawyer Lawrence Walters, of the firm Weston, Garrou, Walters & Mooney, offered his opinion and commentary on newly proposed 2257A regulations, published by the Justice Department in the Federal Register today.

The regs are proposed as a counterpart to current U.S.C. 18 2257 regulations, which dictate federal labeling and record-keeping regulations for producers of sexually explicit content.

One of the key additions to current regulations being proposed in 2257A would implement provisions of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which would require producers of depictions of simulated sexually explicit conduct to maintain records documenting that performers in those depictions are at least 18 years of age.

Currently, content containing scenes of simulated sexually explicit content is not regulated by 2257 requirements.

“Amazingly, the Department of Justice completely ignores the fact that the entire 2257 regulatory scheme was declared unconstitutional in the Connection Distributing case,” Walters told XBIZ.

“The DOJ turns a blind eye to this and claims that it will apply the 2257 compliance obligations on the producers of 2257A content, since the courts have repeatedly upheld their validity” he added. “This demonstrates the kind of denial that the government is willing to engage in to impose more burden on the industry.”

Walters pointed out that a “safe harbor” exemption had been included in the proposal. Producers of softcore or simulated content that was created for commercial consumption that certified regularly to the attorney general adequate record-keeping procedures had been put into place and that no models under the age of 18 were used in the content, could then notify the attorney general every two years to avoid unwanted prosecution.

“The substance of the regulations is not particularly surprising, although the ability to obtain a compliance exemption may be of useful to those producers that focus on 'softcore' product that does not include actual sexual activity,” Walters said.

The attorney also spoke other proposed 2257 regulations that, according to Walters, have not been clarified, inferring that additional proposals would increase the difficulty for producers to comply with the regulations.

“What is somewhat unclear is the status of the proposed 2007 regulations,” Walters said.

“Some of those have been modified by the 2008 regulations, but others remain untouched — such as the requirement that 2257 records include the original date of production of the material,” he described. “It appears that those proposals remain on the table — to the extent they were not amended by the proposed 2008 regulations, but this is becoming an increasingly complex and unwieldy administrative nightmare.”

As for the proposals published today, Walters added, “It is important to keep in mind that these regulations have not been adopted yet, but are merely in the public comment phase.”

Walters is a frequent lecturer on the subject of free speech, and has authored numerous articles for mainstream and adult publications [including XBIZ] and legal reviews. He has represented several adult industry members and businesses.