World News

 2001

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31st December   Land of the Free Book Burners

A New Mexico church plans to burn Harry Potter books because they are "an abomination to God," the church pastor said recently. Pastor Jack Brock said he would have a "holy bonfire" on Sunday at the Christ Community Church in Alamogordo in southern New Mexico to torch books about the fictional teen-age wizard who is wildly popular with young people. These books encourage our youth to learn more about witches, warlocks, and sorcerers, and those things are an abomination to God and to me Harry Potter books are going to destroy the lives of many young people.

Brock, whose said his Christmas Eve sermon was titled "The Baby Jesus or Harry Potter?," described the book burning as part of an effort to encourage Christians to remove everything from their homes that prevents them from communicating with God. The books have come under fire in a few U.S communities for supposedly encouraging devilish thoughts among the young.

Michael warns though:

With regard to the above item, I wonder if you have been taken in by a spoof website. I recently was shown just such a website. It seemed very realistic and whacko, but after some digging it turned out there was a disclaimer explaining that it was a spoof site. This site had an elaborate attack on Harry Potter complete with fake adds.

31st December   Hard for 16 Year Olds

I was watching XXL, a French hardcore satellite channel, last night and I noticed that their midnight hardcore feature was preceded by a 16 certificate. The banner stated that when the film was shown at the cinema it was "Prohibited to those less than 16 years". The film contained all the usual hardcore elements you'd expect.

Does anybody know if the French have changed their classification policy? It used to be that the 18 certificate was reserved for hardcore. Softcore and very violent films used to receive a 16 certificate.

24th December   Grand Theft of Rights

The Australian government has banned the sale of the computer game, Grand Theft Auto III, according to a report
from CNET. Australia's government mandates that all computer games be given a rating by its Office of Film and Literature Classification's review board. The review board has refused to grant a rating to Grand Theft Auto III from Rockstar Games , deeming it unsuitable for a minor to see or play.

The version of Grand Theft Auto III for Sony's PlayStation 2 was the second top-selling title overall during October, according to sales figures. The game received an "M" for Mature rating in the U.S. for its "blood, violence and strong language" from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

The Australian review board confirmed that retailers may be prosecuted for offering the game in stores there.

16th December   A Brazilian Cover-Up

A Brazilian congresswoman is pushing for a bill that would require TV and movie actors to don condoms before engaging in explicit sexual acts. The bill, making its way through Brazil's Congress, proposes a ban on imports, sales or the reproduction of all images of sexual acts, including oral sex, that do not show a condom. The ban would extend to TV, cinema, videos and magazines.

The bill, which has been approved by a congressional commission and is  expected to reach Congress' floor in 2002, would complement legislation recently passed that obliges pornographic films and videos to carry a health warning, advising viewers to use a condom to protect against AIDS.

Nair Xavier, the bill's sponsor, argues the condoms-only stance would support Brazil's campaign against AIDS, which has been held up as a model for developing countries in slashing infection rates. The number of new AIDS cases fell to 15,000 in 2000 from 20,000 new cases annually in 1996, recent data showed.

25th November   For My Young Sister

A rare story where the UK have passed a film that is causing problems elsewhere.

A controversial movie screened at this year's Toronto International Film Festival has been banned for release in Ontario because of nude sex scenes involving teenagers. "We did not approve (the film)," Ontario Film Review Board chairman Robert Warren said Tuesday of Fat Girl, directed by France's Catherine Breillat. There is a scene where a 15-year-old is (shown in) full frontal nudity in a sexual situation and also a 13-year-old girl with partial nudity in a rape scene," he said. "That contravenes a section of the Theatres Act. What we're talking about here is portrayals of underage sexual activity. When they start putting nudity or partial nudity in conjunction with underage activity . . . that's where we've drawn the line with our legislation.

The board can reject a film if it depicts sex-related nudity involving someone who is underage or appears to be underage. Fat Girl (A Ma Soeur) explores the sexual awakening of two sisters, Anais (Anais Reboux), a pudgy adolescent, and her beautiful older sister Elena (Roxane Mesquida).

Noah Cowan of Cowboy Pictures, which is jointly releasing the film with Lion's Gate, said the board's decision would be appealed. As someone born and bred in Ontario I remember the dark days when, you know, the great masters of world cinema were banned in Ontario," he said, referring to a stint in the 1980s when the board banned critically acclaimed films like The Tin Drum and Pretty Baby. I'm incredibly disheartened and depressed that those days seem to be returning.

Cowan said he didn't think it was an option to cut the controversial scenes out of the film. We absolutely feel that the cuts demanded are absolutely unjustified . . . We are in the process of filing an appeal. If we fail to change their minds and they refuse to rate the film then the film will be effectively banned in Ontario."

The film is also currently in front of the British Columbia review board.

23rd November   Verifiably Juvenile Politicians

From Wired

A proposed law in the Australian state of  New South Wales would make it illegal to upload online content unsuitable for minors without an adult verification system in place.

Under the proposed law, it would be illegal to upload online material that would be rated R (Restricted to adults 18 and over -­- usually due to thematic material), X (Sexually Explicit ­-- for adults 18 and over) or RC (Refused Classification --­ usually meaning very violent) by Australia's censors, The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), without an adult verification method on the site where it would be posted.

We are unaware of any other Western democracy that has put laws remotely like this one in place," said Irene Graham, executive director of Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA). Its closest equivalent would be the U.S. CDA (Communications Decency Act), which was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The proposed state law is aimed at complementing a national Australian law that went into effect in 2001. Under the national law, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) --­ which regulates the Internet here -- can order material removed from an Australian Internet server if the OFLC rates its content either X or RC. Material rated R would either need to be taken down or offered behind an adult verification mechanism.

Under the national scheme, the ABA responds only to public complaints, rates Internet content before taking enforcement action and provides a grace period --­ commonly one business day -- for content to comply with a "take-down" order before pursuing legal action.

When the national law was considered by the Australian Parliament in 1999, both the EFA and IIA opposed it. However, both the EFA and the IIA have acknowledged the effect of the national law has been surprisingly benign, serving mostly to send sexually explicit content providers offshore, where the ABA has no jurisdiction.

Under the proposed state law, individuals in New South Wales who "make available" via an online service material that would be rated X or RC by the OFLC without an adult verification mechanism, would face a fine of US$5,700, while corporations could face a fine of $14,000. Smaller fines would be levied upon those placing material that would be rated R without an adult verification method.

22nd November   Federal Censorship Commission

The US Federal Communications Commission says it is investigating whether ABC violated decency regulations with Thursday's prime-time broadcast of The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which featured models walking the runway in lingerie. FCC commissioner Michael Copps said he received dozens of complaints from viewers, including one from his own 27-year-old daughter. She saw it and was upset, he said.

22nd November   No Peeking in Peking

From The Register I wonder if you can read the Melon Farmers from China

The Chinese Government has shut down 17,488 Internet cafes. The official reason for the closures is their failure to block sites considered subversive or pornographic. Another 28,000 Internet cafes must install monitoring software, required under Government regulations, the Associated Press reports. Many foreign news sites are blocked under the restrictions.

In July, Beijing shut 2,000 cybercafes, and suspended another 6,000 amid fears that the nation's youths were becoming net addicts. A Shanghai-based Webmaster, Lawrence Sheed, told us that a Beijing TV station recently ran an expose about
Internet cafes and pornography. This prompted a renewed Government crackdown (there was one in April also) and the closures.

Recently, human rights activists accused Nortel Networks, accusing of contributing to human rights violations by helping the country overhaul its ageing surveillance technology, the 'Great firewall of China'

11th November   The Patriotic Ceding of the Right to Privacy

From ABCNews.go.com

Over the protests of privacy and civil liberties groups, President Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law on October 25, broadening the federal government's powers to track terrorists on the Internet.But a week later, privacy groups say they're preparing for an extended campaign to ensure that the government doesn't abuse its new powers, and they plan to file Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits.

We will begin a Freedom of Information Act campaign to learn more about what the government will be doing with these new authorities, said Chris Hoofnagle, a privacy advocate with civil liberties group EPIC. But for most people, the risk of surveillance is low, even with the new expanded powers, analysts say. Honestly, I think that the individual citizen has to recognize that the chances of their [communications] being intercepted or monitored are pretty remote, so I don't think you want to live a life of paranoia, said Jim Dempsey, founder of the Center for Democracy and Technology. ISPs and other companies say they will comply with the provisions of the new law.

You're not going to see Internet service providers trying to block the government, said David McClure, president of the US Internet Industry Association. You're not going to see them trying in any way to aid people who would use the Internet against the interests of nations and people."

To comply with court orders, larger ISPs like AOL will use their own internal surveillance software, while smaller ISPs will likely use the FBI's Carnivore system or new, developing surveillance software products. Experts say these technologies work the same basic way: They collect digital information packets on a network and filter them for key words or email addresses in a process known as packet sniffing.

Privacy advocates are still worried about potential abuses under the Patriot Act, especially when innocent Web surfers are caught in surveillance sweeps.

When [the FBI] says deliver to me all the packets that mention the word 'crop duster' or 'anthrax,' you get this situation where people who are reading innocent materials might be viewed with suspicion, said EPIC's Hoofnagle.

In approving the USA Patriot Act, Congress made sure that ISPs and other tech companies would not be required to install new surveillance equipment or software. However, this provision was made not because of industry opposition to surveillance, but because of costs. The FBI is expected to try to continue improving its surveillance technology. But a week after the President's signing ceremony, surveillance experts are not predicting any special boom in private sector surveillance technology development or production.

 

24th October   Rating  the Big Boys

From Wired

Three of the most-visited Web destinations have agreed to provide ratings of their websites as a way to offer parents the ability to screen the content their children access. Yahoo, Microsoft's MSN and AOL will use a ratings system developed by the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA), a non-profit group, to provide a number rating for Web pages and other services. Topics covered include language used on the site, chat, nudity and sexual content, violence, gambling, drugs, tobacco and alcohol. It is free to both have a site rated and to use the filtering software, which will work with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Netscape and MicroSystem's Cyber Patrol Software. Parents will have to download and install the software on their PC in order to have the sites they choose blocked. Any site can submit itself for rating by filling out a questionnaire about its Internet content, and then receive a rating from the ICRA that is inserted as a meta tag on the author's site.

 

16th Sept   La Poste Intercept Parcels

Spotted on usenet

The French national postal service, La Poste, is causing problems for satellite dealers across Europe. According to industry reports, Canal+ are now working alongside the French postal service in identifying parcels sent by satellite dealers in an attempt to cut down on pay-TV piracy. All parcels which are determined to have been sent by a satellite dealer, typically by a return address or logo placement, are then inspected for products which can assist in the piracy of pay-TV platforms, which if found, are then confiscated!

However, products which do not automatically qualify as being able to assist in the piracy of pay-TV platforms, such as CAMs, receivers, etc, are also said to have been confiscated - a rather harsh move, which is frustrating many dealers, some to the point of suspending shipments to France!

 

15th Sept   US Aftermath

From Wired

FBI agents soon may be able to spy on Internet users legally without a court order. On Thursday evening, two days after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, the Senate approved the "Combating Terrorism Act of 2001," which enhances police wiretap powers and permits monitoring in more situations.

The measure says any U.S. attorney or state attorney general can order the installation of the FBI's Carnivore surveillance system. Previously, there were stiffer restrictions on Carnivore and other Internet surveillance techniques.

Its bipartisan sponsors argue that such laws are necessary to thwart terrorism. It is essential that we give our law enforcement authorities every possible tool to search out and bring to justice those individuals who have brought such indiscriminate death into our backyard,

Thursday's vote comes as the nation's capital is reeling from the catastrophes at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and politicians are vowing to do whatever is necessary to preserve the safety of Americans.

This week, Sen. Judd Gregg called for restrictions on privacy-protecting encryption products, and Carnivore's use appears on the rise. In England, government officials have asked phone companies and Internet providers to collect and record all their users' communications -- in case the massive accumulation of data might yield clues about Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Under the Combating Terrorism Act, prosecutors could authorize surveillance for 48-hour periods without a judge's approval.

Warrantless surveillance appears to be limited to the addresses of websites visited, the names and addresses of e-mail correspondents, and so on, and is not intended to include the contents of communications. But the legislation would cover URLs, which include information such as what Web pages you're visiting and what terms you type in when visiting search engines.

Circumstances that don't require court orders include an immediate threat to the national security interests of the United States, (an) immediate threat to public health or safety or an attack on the integrity or availability of a protected computer. That covers most computer hacking offenses.

During Thursday's floor debate, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), head of the Judiciary committee, suggested that the bill went far beyond merely thwarting terrorism and could endanger Americans' privacy. He also said he had a chance to read the Combating Terrorism Act just 30 minutes before the floor debate began. Maybe the Senate wants to just go ahead and adopt new abilities to wiretap our citizens," Leahy said. "Maybe they want to adopt new abilities to go into people's computers. Maybe that will make us feel safer. Maybe. And maybe what the terrorists have done made us a little bit less safe. Maybe they have increased Big Brother in this country.

 

4th Sept   Indian Perspective

An off topic article from the Bangkok Post. Somehow this story hit a nerve and put our own problems with religious nutters into perspective. Religion certainly seems to enable some real festering pits of inhumanity. The more 'tolerant' a religion is proclaimed to be the more it seems only to tolerate intolerance.

A previously unkown militant Muslim group, Lashkar-e-Jabbar has threatened to take action from Sept 1 against women who are "immodestly dressed". The group took responsibility for an acid attack on two women who were not wearing veils or claoks this month in Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital.

The region's main female separatist group, Daughters of Faith, announced its support for Jabbar but asked it to extend the deadline by another 10 days to give women more time to buy veils.

Armed police were deployed around female education institutions from early morning to ease fears of women terrified of attacks. Despite the police presence, most women were wearing cloaks or veils with just their face or eyes left uncovered.

 

4th Sept   Israeli Nutters

Religiously observant legislators have threatened that if cable and satellite TV broadcasters do not cease broadcasting porn channels such as Playboy, Spice  and the locally produced Blue by the end of the month, they will file a  police  complaint against the TV companies and pass special legislation outlawing  adult content even on the currently legal pay-per-view basis.

This is the latest round in a struggle over the broadcasting of adult material, which began  with the passage of the 25th Amendment to the Telecommunications Law-1982 in July. The new legislation, intended to open up the domestic telecommunications market to competition, contained a surprise last-minute clause banning the broadcast of all porn except on a pay-per-view basis. Porn channels were introduced to Israel by satellite TV broadcaster YES when it launched broadcasts in July 2000, and their popularity encouraged the cable TV industry to follow suit.

4th Sept   Too Hot for Turkey
From a country that would like to join the EC but obviously not the European Convention of Human Rights.

The Radio and Television High Council (RTUK) imposed sanctions on television channels that featured erotic films within the framework of their magazine programmes. Kanal-6s broadcasts will be stopped twice for a period of one day each and once for a period of three days on grounds that its broadcasts were not in line with general morals, social tranquillity, and Turkish family structure. The broadcasts of Show TV, which featured an erotic film as well as the broadcasts of ATV, TGRT, and ETV, which featured thethreatening speech of a tribe leader, will be closed for one day each.

19th August   A Chinese Perspective

From the BBC

A Chinese website creator accused of posting subversive articles on the internet has been tried in secret in China.

Huang Qi was tried on Tuesday by the Chengdu Intermediate Court in the southwestern province of Sichuan, but no verdict or sentencing date has been announced. The trial was held behind closed doors and family members were not allowed to attend.

It is thought to be the first time an internet entrepreneur has been prosecuted by the Chinese authorities for allowing others to put politically-sensitive material on the web.

Huang published the website, www.6-4tianwang.com. It contained articles about pro-democracy activism in China, the banned spiritual group Falun Gong and the independence movement in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. He launched the website, known as the "Tianwang Missing Persons Web Site", to help find relatives and friends of those who died or disappeared during the crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989. He was arrested on in June last year, the eve of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. His trial began in February but was postponed three times.

The case highlights China's struggle to promote the internet for commercial purposes while trying to control political content. Internet use has boomed in China - the number of users doubled in the first eight months of 2000 to 16.9 million. China routinely blocks websites of Western media outlets, human rights groups, Tibetan exiles and other sources of information it deems politically sensitive or harmful.

Last year, China introduced strict new guidelines to try to control the kind of material published on the internet. Huang's website has been hosted by a US server since April 2000 and remains accessible outside China.

28th July   Unbanned Killers

Natural Born Killers has been unbanned in Ireland.  It is now in the video shops complete with the Irish censor's 18 certificate on the cover.  It was only a little over a year ago when the Irish film censor intervened and stopped TV3 from broadcasting the film on TV.

27th July   Blockbusting Penis Enlargement

Thanks to Nick

From the "I only believe it because it's too stupid to make up" file: The  US Blockbuster Video chain recently pulled all of the issues of WOW magazine   (with William Regal on the cover) that they had for sale in their stores.  The reason? Because the issue of WOW in question had an ad for a "penis   enlargement" product in it. I guess Blockbuster's next move is to only rent   Walt Disney movies. Anyway, WOW will be back in with the next issue. The ad   is gone, so if you want to enlarge your penis, you will have to find another   magazine to tell you how to do it.

15th July   Thought Crimes & Self Incrimination

From the Charlotte Observer... If you have horrendous thoughts in the land of the free...don't write them down

The stories Brian Dalton wrote in his journal about torturing and molesting children were so disturbing that grand jurors asked a detective to stop reading after about two pages. The stories also were complete fiction. But he still was sentenced to 10years in prison.

The case has alarmed lawyers specializing in First Amendment and obscenity law, who believe Dalton is the first person anywhere in the United States successfully prosecuted for child pornography that involved writings, not images. They are disturbed, too, that the case involved porn that was intended for Dalton's private use and was not disseminated.

His thoughts may be disturbing and repugnant, but he has got a right to have them and write them down for his own use, said Raymond Vasvari, legal director for the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Dalton, who was on probation from a 1998 conviction involving pornographic photos of children, was charged after his probation officer found the journal during a routine search of his home. Dalton pleaded guilty last week to pandering obscenity involving a minor. As part of the plea bargain, a second count was dropped for five years less in prison.

His case has since raised so many questions that he is considering trying to withdraw his guilty plea, defense attorney Isabella Dixon said Thursday. Dalton was charged under Ohio's 1989 child porn law, which bans possession of obscene material involving children. He was not charged under Ohio's obscenity law, which requires dissemination, not just possession. Ohio's law is broad in describing child pornography as "material" and not simply "images," as in most other states, said Bruce Taylor, president of the National Law Center for Children and Families, which helps prosecutors in child porn cases.

Robert O'Neil, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression at the University of Virginia, said the case is astounding because it goes against U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The Supreme Court also has ruled obscene material is illegal only if it is disseminated and not simply possessed, but the mere possession of child porn can be prosecuted if there is an overriding societal interest in protecting children.

15th July   Flogging Porn

No doubt the Iranians preach that they are a supremely tolerant state ...But... they do stone porn actors to death and flog porn sellers:

Twenty Iranians were flogged in a square in the capital Tehran Tuesday for selling "obscene" compact discs and videotapes, the official news agency IRNA reported.

The dealers had been convicted of selling the illegal material, usually pirated Western films and music videos by U.S.-based Iranian artists. The agency did not say how many lashes the men received.

Western-style tapes and CDs are illegal under Iran's strict censorship rules which ban images of women without an Islamic dress covering most of their body. But the material is widely available in the Islamic republic anyway.

IRNA said other dealers continued to sell similar material not far from the square as the flogging was being carried out.

2nd July   Harder Playboy

The US version of Playboy TV has exercised its options to buy back three hardcore satellite/cable channels.  According to the Los Angeles Times, industry sources and analysts estimated the Vivid Video channels could be worth more than $50 million. Playboy was expected to announce the deal Monday.

Vivid TV, the Hot Network and Hot Zone, which reach about 30 million homes, offer more explicit fare than the softcore Playboy TV channel and Playboy's two Spice networks.

Playboy announced plans to enter the hardcore market last year by proposing three Spice Platinum channels. But no cable or satellite
operators have agreed to distribute them, partly because they already had deals with Vivid or other competitors.

Meanwhile Playboy TV have gone hardcore in Spain. According to Sat-Zone: Playboy TV has been spotted broadcasting free-to-air on Hispasat 1 A-C at 30º west at 11932 Ghz H (SR 27500, FEC 3/4). Although aimed at the Spanish market the original soundtrack in English is also available. What is interesting for viewers familiar with the UK Playboy service is that after 1am CET the channel is known as Playboy Exxtra broadcasting hardcore feature films typically aimed at the couples market.

Of course this change of direction at Playboy TV makes their recent BBFC submission  of several R18 videos even more intriguing.

17th June   Yaboo Yahoo
A German portal struggling for revenue has entered the most profitable business on the web porn.

Freenet.de, the country's third largest ISP, promises its users "the whole internet and more". And now it's delivering on its pledge with the launch of an "erotic lifestyle portal".

Fundorado, as it will be known, will offer videos, chat, webcams and "other interactive services". It is being run in conjunction with Orion Holding, one of Germany's largest adult content providers.

US and UK portals have typically shied away from distributing adult content directly, though most carry adult links on their search engines.

However, Germany has traditionally taken a more relaxed stance on sex, so it is unsurprising that the country should be home to the first major portal to enter the adult content business.

The market is certainly large - one third of Germany's internet users regularly visit sex and erotica sites, according to Freenet.de.

6th June   Guidance from Ireland

An interesting observation from an Irish reader. It seems that the Irish film censorship has changed its approach to age classification. Films originally rated 12 and 15 have been appearing as 12PG or 15PG. Children under that age may watch the film as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

I will look into this further especially as Robin Duval recently mentioned the idea of advisery age classifications for consideration in Britain.

28th May   Digging the Dirt on Bush

From AVN.com

Hustler Publisher Larry Flynt said that he wants evidence of illicit sexual relations about U.S. President George W. Bush, but that his investigators are running into a wall in the President's home state of Texas. Dan Kapelovitz, a features editor at Larry Flynt Productions told AVN.com that the reward for verifiable information on Bush may be up to $1 million dollars.

Flynt told reporters in Cannes today that he fears the Republican Bush administration will try to crack down on the pornography industry and that he is determined to find information on the President. Bush has got a spin machine that looks like Mary Poppins. It is hard to get any information out of Texas. You get very little cooperation.

Larry Flynt's advertisement seeking assistance in catching wayward politicians first appeared in the Washington Post, and can now be found on the back cover of The Flynt Report.

The text of the ad reads: Larry Flynt believes that anything worth doing is worth doing again. In the spirit of ongoing investigations Larry Flynt and Hustler Magazine still want to know if you can provide documentary evidence of illicit sexual relations with a current Senator, Representative or other prominent officeholder. How much will we pay if we choose to publish your verified story and use your material? Call today, and let's talk about it.

Flynt went on to say There has never been more interest [in sex] than now. The genie is out of the bottle and with wireless technology, there is no putting it back in. Without doubt [pornography] is becoming more mainstream, The greatest right any nation can give its people is the right to be left alone. Flynt added, condemning members of the religious right for trying to impose their morals on the public. The government is [doing] the same thing, feeling that if they can control our pleasures then they can control us.'

The hotline for Flynt's investigation is 1-800-687-4996

28th May   A Mouthful of Nutters

From AVN.com

Los Angeles police recently raided the home and office of JM Productions executive Jeff Steward on suspicion of obscenity, seizing copies of American Bukkake 11 and Liquid Gold 5.

This is fucking bullshit, an angry Steward told AVN.com minutes after police served search warrants at the two locations. They treated me like I was a fucking murderer. But I was cooperative. I have nothing to hide. I have done nothing wrong.

Steward said members of the LAPD's organized crime and vice division stopped his car a few blocks from his home and armed with the search warrant, searched his vehicle, his residence and later his office at Legend Video's headquarters in Chatsworth. Police also stopped and searched a separate vehicle containing Steward's wife and the couple's 15-year-old son, Steward said.

Steward is the second porn producer to be raided by the LAPD's organized crime and vice division in recent months. In December, police seized one copy of Tampa Tushy Fest from the offices of Adam Glasser, better known to gonzo fans worldwide as Seymore Butts. Released in early 1999, the European version of the tape contained a fisting scene between Alisha Klass and Chloe. That version was inadvertently sent to American retailers, Glasser said in a statement made shortly after the tape's release.

The December raid led to Glasser being charged in April with misdemeanor obscenity. Glasser has pleaded not guilty and vows to fight the charges at his pending trial, a date for which has not yet been set.

Kat Sunlove, lobbyist with the Free Speech Coalition, says the type of material seized at JM Productions is an attractive target because it would have the least public support because of the appeal of the videos is within a specialized group, rather than within the mainstream of adult consumers. It's very distressing, I think it's the start of much more on both the local and federal level. I'm reminded of Nazi Germany -- I really am. It's very sad.

Video companies, such as Vivid and Wicked that produce less-edgy titles that are more acceptable to the mainstream public will probably not be held to the same scrutiny, she adds. This operates in a social context, so the police can only do those things for which they perceive they have public support They would not have public support if they started busting Veronica Hart's titles. The end result, predicts Sunlove, will be a chilling effect over the industry, with production of such titles being stopped.

Update: Charges Dropped

20th October 2007

All obscenity charges against JM Productions and owner Jeff Steward have been dropped in federal court. The charges were dropped by the government because of lack of evidence and that officials didn't feel there was enough of a case to pursue.

28th May   US Cable Censors

Cable operators are shunning Playboy's Spice Platinum, a new group of channels with graphic fare. And satellite providers are unlikely to pick up the channels, either, since they already provide racy adult content from Playboy's former subsidiaries, Hot Network and Hot Zone.

Playboy -- which once decided it would get out of the business of airing hard-core movies on cable -- announced last year that it would roll out Spice Platinum with porn movies depicting actual penetration rather than just soft-core sex scenes. Likely suppliers include such porn-industry stalwarts as VCA and Wicked Pictures, which already provide content for Playboy's video-on-demand offerings.

The move was crucial for the Chicago-based company, which has noticed that hard-core porn can generate strong revenues on pay-per-view. Revenues from adult pay-per-view movies rocketed to $465 million last year from $369 million in 1999, partly due to demand for more explicit fare.

Officials announced earlier this month that the channels would be delayed till the summer due to technical difficulties. But some observers wonder if the tepid response from operators may have influenced the delay. The reaction of Cable One, an operator based in Phoenix, is typical: We're concerned about how our customers might respond, says Gerald McKenna, Cable One's vice president of strategic marketing. The programming is awful strong.

Time Warner Cable doesn't like the drift toward hard-core, either. We carry the classic, or standard, adult services, not the new harder-core services, says spokesman Mike Luftman.

But satellite service providers are really complicating matters for Playboy. DirecTV and EchoStar Communications already carry multiple channels of porn fare. Bob Marsocci, spokesman for DirecTV says: We already have five channels of adult programming. Two of the explicit adult channels offered by DirecTV are Hot Networks and Hot Zone,   were formerly owned by Playboy and were sold off as a way to appease concerns of many operators. Just a few years later, however, strong revenue growth for these channels and similar networks prompted Playboy to create the new explicit channels.

28th May   A Bum US Law Struck Down

A judge has ruled that Minnesota's sodomy law illegally pries into people's private lives -- even when it is not enforced. The Minnesota court has struck down that state's sodomy law as an unconstitutional invasion of personal privacy.

Judge Delila F. Pierce granted a summary judgment request from seven individual plaintiffs and the Lavender Bar Association, declaring the statute unconstitutional as applied to private, consensual, non-commercial acts of sodomy by consenting adults, because it violates the right of privacy guaranteed by the Minnesota Constitution.

The Minnesota ruling comes on the heels of a similar court decision in Arkansas and the repeal of Arizona's sodomy law by that state's legislature. Fifteen other states have laws prohibiting oral and anal sex between consenting adults.

28th May   Ohio Nutters

Butler County Prosecutor's Office is launching an anti-porn crusade. Butler County is one of 17 counties in the greater Cincinnati area. Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper has $120,000 in funds to create an obscenity task force to prosecute pornography cases. County commissioners approved the money for the project Thursday.  Piper stated: While we have every intention of preserving the First Amendment rights of all citizens of Butler County, we plan on taking a sledgehammer to the video screen of pornography.

The new task force will include two prosecutors, an investigator and a secretary. The anti-porn organization will be complete in mid-July. Piper indicated his staff has been gathering information to prosecute obscenity cases since he took office in January.

Phil Burress, president of Nutters for Community Values, said aggressive enforcement of obscenity laws is overdue in Butler County. In 1999, a private investigator working for Citizens for Community Values found 12 outlets dealing in hard-core, prosecutable pornography in the county.

21st May   Barbaric

The unedited version of the religious commandment must read: Thou shalt not kill...unless the local nutters sayeth OK

An Iranian woman convicted of acting in pornographic films has been stoned to death in the prison where she has been held for the last eight years, a newspaper reported Monday.

The unnamed 35-year-old was buried in a pit and pelted with stones until she died in the centre of Tehran's Evin prison, the Entekhab paper said, adding that she had been tracked down after an intensive police search. It said investigators only succeeded in finding her after they noticed the serial number of an electricity meter that was in the background of a scene in one of her films.

She denied being the woman on screen but police found several witnesses who testified she was indeed the X-rated actress. The woman was sentenced to death after being convicted of adultery and "corruption on earth," a verdict which was upheld by the supreme court, the paper said.

14th May   Penetrating the Cannes Festival

The adult world mixed seamlessly with mainstream French cinema Saturday night as Video Marc Dorcel, France's most famous porn company, co-hosted a large, vibrant party with French art house producer Haut et Court on the very day that Le Pornographe (The Pornographer) had its World Premiere at Critics' Week, the annual side bar festival held along side the main festival each year here.

Le Pornographe, starring French adult film star Ovidie, becomes the latest mainstream film to include actual hardcore, Lars Von Trier's The Idiots, with its explicit orgy scene and Romance were previous examples.

With champagne flowing for over 2000 attendees, the publicity party rocked until 5AM and was attended by Ovidie and her co-stars Jean-Pierre Leaud an d Jeremie Renier, as well as director Bertrand Bonello. A large array of European adult stars attended, as well as such American names as Dee, Tera Patrick, Serenity, Sydnee Steele, Inari Vachs, T.J. Hart, Jonathan Morgan, Devinn Lane and agent Lucky Smith.

Video Marc Dorcel's Gregory Dorcel said that this film breaks new ground in the use of adult actresses in mainstream European cinema. "Not many auteurs speak specifically about pornography, Dorcel said. They use an explicit scene, some penetration, but they don't talk about the industry. Last year we had a film in France called Fuck Me that did that. In Le Pornographe, there are five or six explicit shots, Now they are taking the adult industry seriously. For the first time, the adult director in the film is not a bad guy, just a regular, middle class man who goes to work to make money for his family.

Le Pornographe was apparently well received in Cannes

9th May   Nuts in May

A bunch of American nutters have declared May as Victims of Pornography Month

It may seem unseemly to toast a month that's by design a dour affair, but now that a Republican lives in the White House, conservatives are mounting an unadulterated campaign to save the sexploited. On the victimsofpornography.org site, visitors are urged to become active against ostensibly unwholesome erotica by meeting with religious leaders, planning a motorcade with white ribbons and writing letters to local newspapers.

The festivities began Wednesday on Capitol Hill with an event attended by Republicans. Steve Largent and Jim Ryun, along with groups and individuals who offered testimonials to the perils of prurience. Largent took the opportunity to fault former President Bill Clinton for not enforcing obscenity statutes. It's a disease that has to be stopped, Largent said. And we have the cure.

The cure, Largent and his allies believe, is enforcement of federal laws already on the books -- especially increased prosecution of "obscene" websites. (Antiporn activists in the past have lobbied the Clinton administration to file more online obscenity cases, saying that the relatively few federal lawsuits against pornographers demonstrates that the administration has neglected to protect children online.)

The attorney general has made both public and private statements that he intends to enforce all the laws, including the obscenity laws, said Bruce Taylor, president of the National Law Center for Children and Families. The previous administration did not do enough, according to Taylor; Janet Reno did not feel comfortable enforcing obscenity laws. She didn't want to do it, and nobody made her do it. Nothing will probably change at the department for a few months, predicts Taylor, a former Justice Department lawyer. They haven't hired obscenity prosecutors. But once they get going, they'll start with the bigger fish.

What that means, most likely, is a rash of lawsuits aimed at sites that meet a number of criteria: high traffic, for-profit, and really, really, raunchy. Fortunately for the sex hounds out there, it's not illegal to download or store "obscene" material on your computer -- the law only applies to people distributing it. (Unless it's child pornography, of course.)

A U.S. court can only rule a publication or website to be obscene if it meets standards described in the Supreme Court's 1973 Miller v. California case. The court said obscene publications are those that appeal to the "prurient interest," depict offensive sexual conduct, and lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Victims of Pornography month is "a very thinly veiled attempt to censor the reading and entertainment choices of a vast majority of Americans," says Gary Daniels, a spokesman for the National Coalition Against Censorship. Daniels argues that activists should worry about themselves rather than trying to regulate the lives of others. "The great thing about living in America is that if you don't want to look at something you don't have to," he said.

Representatives from several of these anti-pornography organizations will meet with U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft next week. The groups are meeting with the Attorney General to try to convince him to increase the Justice Department's prosecution of obscenity cases. The list of groups participating in the meeting includes Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, Morality in Media, Citizens for Community Values, the American Center for Law and Justice, Focus on the Family, Center for Reclaiming America, and the American Family Association.

American Family Association government-affairs director Patrick Trueman, said that a number of mainstream corporations are trafficking, via cable TV and Internet divisions, in material that he believes is prosecutable under obscenity statutes. We're going to lay out some evidence about several companies, said Trueman. Trueman ran the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section during the Ronald Reagan and George Bush administrations. The only such company Trueman was willing to name was Yahoo, whose GeoCities unit, he said, contains user-posted child pornography despite the company's recent decision to stop acting as a middleman for adult-video sellers.

CNN quoted an anonymous lawyer for one free-speech advocacy group who said to wait and see. "The question is whether they can walk the walk. It's expensive to prosecute these kinds of cases. There may be other priorities," said the lawyer.

7th May   Hardcore Artcore

A couple more arthouse hardcore (termed 'artcore' in the following article) films may be heading our way. In fact the IKU made it to the ICA last December but it is more notable for its style than its few hardcore scenes.

From the Japan Times

Here in Japan, it seems almost any content is acceptable to the censors these days, provided they can mask the naughty bits with digital mosaics. Joining Baise-moi in being released uncut here is Korean director Jang Sun Woo's Lies, which was unsurprisingly banned in his home country.

Lies was, in fact, deliberately made to provoke the censors: Close to 90 percent of the film's content consists of sex scenes, involving an 18-year-old high school girl and a 38-year-old artist. If that wasn't bad enough for a conservatively Confucian society, Jang's fly-on-the-wall style of shooting adds to the seemingly for-real feel of the encounters between the two actors (whose characters uncomfortably parallel their "real" selves). Further complicating matters is the kinky nature of their affair, which includes buggery and some painful-looking S/M lashings; Jang has even let it drop in interviews that the actors "could enjoy" the floggings.

While with this film Jang seeks to transgress established notions of decency -- as he did with his street-kid flick Timeless Bottomless Bad Movie -- he does more than just give viewers a thwack in the rear. Jang unflinchingly stares down the sexual dynamics on display and follows their spiral from innocent play to games of power and control. Like Nigisa Oshima's Realm of the Senses, this is almost too intense to be erotic; the sex becomes obsessive and grueling to watch.

Alone among these films, I.K.U. sets out to titillate. It makes no bones about its approach: It's billed as "Japanese sci-fi porno," and porno it is, albeit director Shu Lea Cheang's sensibilities make it unique to the genre. I.K.U is heavily art-directed, with lots of trippy set design and computer graphics, an experimental soundtrack by Hoppy Kamiyama and enough gay-straight mix-'n'-match to confound the normal consumer of AV cinema.

But even though local producer Uplink shot this as hardcore in Tokyo (even getting raided on location by the vice squad), it only released it locally in a heavily mosaiced version. Considering that Uplink fought a bitter battle for its right to show Derek Jarman films uncut, this does seem a bit surprising.

Or perhaps it's a reflection of the film's commercial priorities. While I.K.U is a lot of fun -- one gets the sense that this will be a cult classic, the "Barbarella" of its day -- it also illustrates the problems in making a film with fucking. Once you cross a certain line in what you deem to show, you are caught between a rock and a hard place: Either tone down the sex to allow the film to play in "normal" cinemas, or pump up the action to keep the porn punters satisfied.

I.K.U chose the latter, at the expense of story and character, and wound up as little more than a series of wham-bams (which are, admittedly, pretty hot). The dialogue, in particular, is all too close to porn-movie standard: "Faster, harder, softer, motto motto ooh-aah-ah . . . " Cheang has claimed that she sought to make an explicitly sex-centered film, but at the same time she said she wanted to present ideas on cyber-eroticism, subvert gay/straight expectations and deftly parody Blade Runner. It seems like everything but the sex was circumcised from the final cut, though. I.K.U like Jack Horner's repertoire, ultimately falls back on the money shots.

All the films mentioned here, for better or worse, found their merits overshadowed by the "scandal" surrounding their frank depiction of carnality. It seems like a vicious circle: Until we get better films about sex, there will always be a stigma around graphic content. But as long as the stigma remains, serious artists like Jang or Breillat will find their works on sexuality under attack.

True, the controversy can be spun successfully -- most banned works ripen into a mature notoriety -- but when the provocation becomes intentional, it ends up as just more button-pushing excess, a trap into which Baise-moi neatly falls. Perhaps this is why the best works dealing with sexuality tend to be bummers -- it's the only way they can avoid being called cheap thrills. In that regard, I.K.U almost comes as some welcome comic relief.

7th May   Fear of the Arch Nutter

The Buzz from the US is that Bush's adminstration is setting up to harangue the adult industry. In a bid to try and get their house in order prior to the nutter onslaught, the production companies have apparnetly been removing the more extreme videos fromm their catalogues. A site has been set up to monitor this situtation and may be found at www.raincoatreviews.com/discontinueddvds.shtml

7th May   Land of the Not So Free

In a vote of 18-11, the Arizona state legislature repealed laws against cohabitation, sodomy, and other non-procreational sex acts. Arizona lawmakers first tried to repeal the state's century-old sex laws seven years ago, but this week, the repeal finally passed. House Bill 2016 will go to the governor for signing. Whether or not the governor will sign it is unclear, the Associated Press reports.

Lawmakers have finally recognized the inappropriateness of the government regulating behavior between consenting adults, said Kathie Gummere, a lobbyist for the Arizona Human Rights Fund, a group that supported the bill.

Arizona Governor Jane Hull's office has received 933 calls urging the Governor to veto the bill, said Hull's spokesperson Francie Noyes. No calls have come in supporting the bill, Noyes indicated. Hull has not decided what she will do with the bill. The governor keeps her own counsel on these things, and she hasn't told anybody yet what she plans to do, Noyes said.

Sponsored by Republican. Steve May, R-Paradise Valley, the bill deletes clauses in Arizona law that make "open and notorious cohabitation," the "infamous crime against nature" and any "lewd or lascivious act . . . with the intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust, passion or sexual desires," illegal. Currently, violation of any of these clauses is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Under the new law, adultery will remain a crime.

Update from Arizona Republic

In a surprise move Tuesday, Gov. Jane Hull ignored pleas from thousands of constituents and signed into law a bill that repeals a ban on sodomy, oral sex and cohabitation.

The measure also clears the way for heterosexual couples to claim a live-in partner as a dependent under certain circumstances. At the end of the day, I returned to one of my most basic beliefs about government: It does not belong in our private lives, Hull wrote in a one-page letter explaining her move.

The repeal of the state's sex laws sparked more than 6,000 calls and letters to Hull's office urging a veto. By comparison, she received about 3,600 requests to sign it. Those laws set a standard that favored marital relations over cohabitation and same-sex relationships in our state, said a disappointed Cathi Herrod, lobbyist for the Center for Arizona Policy, an organization that opposed the repeal.

Conservative state Sen. David Peterson, R-Mesa, said this may not be the end of the issue. He said he will explore putting it before voters in a referendum.

25th April    The World's most Powerful Nutter

From the Evening Standard

George Bush has ordered that all sex and violence be cut from in-flight films shown on the presidential jet. Politicial reporters flying on Air Force One claim that Bill Clinton always ran the uncut versions of movies during flights, but they note that the new President has had any offensive material removed.

The change is part of George Bush's promise to restore the honour and dignity to the White House, reports the US News and World Washington Whispers column.

It claims that, during the Clinton years, Air Force One regularly ran the kind of films that Mr Clinton and his vice president, Al Gore, condemned when they were talking up family values.

Last November, a Marine guard stationed at the presidential retreat Camp David claimed on a Washington radio station that it was littered with pornography during the Clintons' tenure. Now it seems reporters and White House aides travelling on Air Force One will have to watch the toned-down family versions of films.

From AVN News

Bush Nominates Anti-Porn Activist for Justice Department Post

President Bush has announced his intent to nominate Robert Flores to be Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Flores is currently the Vice President and Senior Counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families. That organization states its goal as being the protection of children and families from the harmful effect of illegal pornography by assisting in law enforcement and law improvement. He is a leading proponent of prosecuting obscenity on the Internet, and requiring schools and libraries receiving e-rate subsidies to use filtering technology.

Flores also served on the COPA Commission. The COPA Commission, a congressionally appointed panel, was mandated by the Child Online Protection Act. COPA was approved by Congress in October 1998. The primary purpose of the Commission is to identify technological or other methods that will help reduce access by minors to material that is harmful to minors on the Internet, according to the Commission's website. The Commission released its final report to Congress on Friday, October 20, 2000.

 

25th April   Yahoo Sucks!

Yahoo recently announced that it is removing adult-related products in the US Yahoo!Shopping, Yahoo! Auctions, and Yahoo! Classifieds. These products include adult-related videos and DVDs available through sellers on Yahoo!'s network. Additionally, Yahoo! will no longer enter into new contracts for adult-related banner advertisements on the Yahoo! network. The implementation of these changes in the United States will take place over the next few weeks.

At Yahoo!, we value the strong relationships we have with our members and have consistently listened to them. While Yahoo! has offered controlled access to adult products available via the Internet since launching our commerce services more than two years ago, many of our users voiced concerns this week about some of the products sold by merchants on Yahoo! Shopping. We heard them and swiftly responded. We consistently strive to act responsibly and constantly evaluate our policies based on what our users tell us,' said Jeff Mallett, Yahoo!'s president and chief operating officer.

25th February   US: Land of the Not Very Free

From the Sunday Times

Pornography, the hidden force behind the economic powerhouse of southern California, is facing the first threat to its relentless business expansion since the early 1980s. The last man who took on the American porn barons was Ed Meese, Ronald Reagan's attorney-general, whose federal investigators closed down public porn cinemas across the nation. Then, as dirty movies were being supplemented by the arrival of the home video, the value of America's output of smut was estimated at $1 billion (£690m).

Nearly 20 years later, as John Ashcroft, the new American attorney-general, prepares to don Meese's mantle, the business has grown to $10 billion a year. More than half of this is either created or repackaged in the 10 square miles of Los Angeles suburbia and low-cost industrial park known as the San Fernando Valley.

The cinemas have largely gone, but last year the home-video business grew to sales of $4.1 billion. Sex toys, made in Asia and South America and mailed out of San Fernando, account for another $1 billion. The fastest growth area, however, is subscription-based internet porn sites, offering everything from saucy postcards to 24-hour webcams allowing voyeurs to watch "students" perform in wired brothels.

Richard Riordan, the Republican mayor of Los Angeles, has expressed his disgust about the Golden State's prominence in the international sex business and has supported both left and right-wing groups condemning the treatment of women in sex films. Yet privately many concede that, like the drugs war, campaigns against porn are unwinnable without burning down America first. Others say forget the morality police - send in the taxmen. They brought down Al Capone, who beat murder raps but was finally jailed for tax evasion. Much of the porn business, where top women stars are paid $1,000 a session, is a cash-in-hand economy that, indirectly, bolsters Hollywood next door.

Meanwhile, the city has cut off all funding to Los Angeles County's Commission on Pornography, which has the last remaining powers to close down sex businesses in the area but has not met since 1994. This week the commission's board will decide whether to vote itself out of existence.

There still remains a strict legal and cultural line between the distribution of material showing adults in "consensual" sex, however bizarre, and child pornography, which remains a federal offence, and, even more seriously, the still-unproven existence of "snuff" movies.

According to the National Law Center For Families and Children, the typical San Fernando porn customer is a 37-year-old father of two who works with computers at the office, so knows what he can find on the web. And he is as likely to be in London as Los Angeles. If a porn company can stay in business for 10 minutes, which is how long it takes to be found by an avid pornography-seeker on the web, it starts making money, says a Law Center official.

Yet the porn merchants fear that the good times may be ending. Last month, according to Adult Video News magazine, the biggest players agreed a new code that they hope will keep them below Ashcroft's radar: pictures are to be toned down, and female degradation and bondage banned. How long the code sticks remains to be seen.

Yet what the established barons want more than anything else is respectability. Playboy has almost achieved that as the Viagra-fuelled Hugh Heffner turns his Los Angeles mansion and its "bunny parties" into self-parody, but it has lost out to harder-edged publishing rivals.

Hustler, the magazine publisher owned by Larry Flynt, recently opened a 9,000 sq ft shop on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip. It is connecting with the young Hollywood crowd: Ben Afflick wore a Hustler-branded hat in a recent film called Boiler Room, and Brad Pitt wore a Hustler shirt in his recent hit movie Fight Club.

Vivid, maker of the notorious Action Sports Sex video series, has struck a product-placement deal with a New Jersey-based clothing company. For the brief seconds that a Vivid star has his or her clothes on, the logo of the Ecko company is visible on screen.

A Santa Barbara company called Porn Star is designing its own range of Vivid-branded clothes for men and women. "Porn is still offensive, so young people will love to flaunt it," says the company's chief executive, Sean Murphy.

Vivid intends to float on the stock market this year. "We have the upside potential of a dotcom with the stability of a diverse and profitable company, a strong marketing base and web presence," says Bill Asher, Vivid president.

He is not alone: in the past five years a dozen sex companies have listed in New York, with varying results. New Frontier Media continues to outperform the rest of the economy, but Rick's Cabaret, which runs exotic clubs, went public at $6 a share and soared to $11.50 before falling to $2.

David Leibowitz, an analyst at Burnham Securities in New York, believes the market for such "sin stocks" is limited. He says many portfolio managers are barred by charter from purchasing them. "But if the numbers are strong enough, one suspects that shareholders can be found," he says.

If it can avoid butting heads with Ashcroft, where does the sex industry go next? Asher has some ideas: "We want to sign up more stars on contracts, push up their wages and long-term earning potential, market them across different demographic groups, and get them directly into millions more homes. We know what moral campaigners say - that has not changed in years - but everything else has and, as far as we are concerned, it is consumers and investors that count.

1st February   Hard Nogs

The UK's new found tolerance of hardcore now leaves Ireland and Norway as the only countries to try and maintain prohibition. Neither seem to be trying very hard though.

Oslo's police admit that they have no idea of how many shops there are selling illegal pornography in the capital. In the last four to five years there have no raids, checks, or controls.

Stopping the sale of illegal pornography is way down on our list of priorities, says Gunnar Walle, chief inspector of Oslo's central police station. Inspector Tord Linnerud admits that the risk of being arrested in Oslo now for dealing in hard porn is virtually zero, despite it being big business.

Linnerud estimates that shops dealing in illegal videos and magazines average about£750 a day in turnover - tax-free since all transactions are under the table.

 

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