Thursday, July 14, 2005

Porn in the USA

A couple weeks ago, I commented on a law requiring pornographers to obtain (and maintain indefinitely) detailed records on all "performers".

"ABitDifferent" left a very insightful comment on the matter, and I would like to highlight several points he made.

1. The law goes well beyond businesses that people would normally think of as pornography creators and distributors. Search engine sites like Google and Altavista which cache images, adult offline sex toy (and even lingerie) stores which have images of women in sexually explicit poses on the packages, video stores which sell or rent adult movies, book stores which sell any book or magaize with a sexually explicit image on the cover, and any adult calendar seller, would all be subject to this law. These are just some examples, there are many others who will also fall under this.

2. Online pornographers are particularly incensed by this because of the way in which the industry works. Typically large adult paid websites advertise through "sponsorship" programs; free websites get a few images to show off the material and recieve a commission on sales. The problem is that most of the paid websites are based in the United Kingdom, which has a law prohibiting pornography producers from giving out documentation regarding their models' personal information (to prevent stalking and harrassment). This is the very documentation that the US sites will now be required to get. The predicted effect is that this will largely shut down legal US pornography websites, but not affect UK pornography.

This strikes me as yet another example of American Puritanism at work. We can't get rid of pornography online (the internet is international, after all), and the Constitution ensures that it can't be censored (although Congress is still working on getting rid of that nasty First Amendment!), but we'll be sure to take the high moral ground by making it difficult for Americans to produce (or make any money off of) porn! Oh well, I guess we'll be getting that much more "Hot Asian teen sex!" spam.

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