US News

 2005

2005   2006   2007   2008   2009   2010   2011   2012   2013   2014   2015   2016   2017  


28th December   Simulated Record Keeping Oppression

From AVN

Perhaps Senator Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) new bill, S. 2140 – the "Protecting Children from Sexual Exploitation Act of 2005" – will teach Hollywood that it doesn't score any points in Congress by being timid on sexual free speech issues.

Mainstream movie producers failed to support Free Speech Coalition's successful lawsuit against portions of the Child Pornography Protection Act, and in what may be thought of as karmic repayment, Sen. Hatch's bill would require 2257 records and labeling on any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, or other matter that (1) contains one or more visual depictions of simulated sexually explicit matter; and (2) is produced in whole or in part with materials which have been mailed or shipped in interstate or foreign commerce, or is shipped or transported or is intended for shipment or transportation in interstate or foreign commerce.

Hatch's bill proposes creating an entirely new section of the law: 18 U.S.C. §2257A, "Recordkeeping requirements for simulated sexual conduct."

Hollywood's 2257A requirements would be pretty much the same as the adult industry's 2257 duties: Ascertain, by examination of an identification document containing such information, the performer's name and date of birth, and require the performer to provide such other indicia of his or her identity as may be prescribed by regulations (Will the front page of the National Inquirer do?); and ascertain any name, other than the performer's present and correct name, ever used by the performer including maiden name, alias, nickname, stage or professional name.

A mainstream performer simulating sex could be prosecuted under this section for either failing to provide correct identity information or for obscenity.

Finally, the Hatch bill creates punishments for failing to comply with every detail of the 2257 and 2257A laws: One year in prison and/or an undetermined fine. Second offenses are significantly worse.

 

23rd December   Minor Victory

From CNET News

A federal judge has blocked enforcement of a California law restricting violent video games, saying it violates the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte ruled late Wednesday that the state law, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October, unconstitutionally restricts minors' rights to information and granted the video game industry's request for a preliminary injunction.

Serious questions are raised concerning (California's) ability to restrict minors' First Amendment rights in connection with exposure to violent video games, including the question of whether there is a causal connection between access to such games and psychological or other harm to children, Whyte said in a written opinion.

California is one of a string of states that recently have enacted similar laws restricting violent and sexually explicit video games, legislation that has been uniformly rejected by the courts. Laws in Illinois and Michigan were blocked by federal judges on First Amendment grounds in the last few weeks, and earlier laws in Indianapolis and Missouri's St. Louis County have also been shot down. The U.S. Supreme Court has not squarely addressed this topic, but it has said in other contexts that even minors have free-expression rights.

The California law said minors must be restricted from buying a "violent video game." That was defined as a game in which the player has the option of "killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being" in offensive ways.

The Entertainment Software Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that filed many of the lawsuits, applauded the California decision. For the sixth time in five years, federal courts have now blocked or struck down these state and local laws seeking to regulate the sale of games to minors based on their content, and none have upheld such statutes, ESA president Douglas Lowenstein said in a statement.

Because Judge Whyte's decision is only preliminary, the final outcome could change after a full trial takes place. Attorneys for California are expected to cite research that claims to demonstrate a causal link between violent video games and harm to children.

 

19th December   Minor Lawmakers

From Australian IT

Hillary Clinton and US Senate colleagues have now introduced laws banning the sale of violent or sexually explicit games to minors, saying the industry's self-rating system is not being enforced.

The proposed measure is the latest development in an increasingly strident battle over the content of video games, which represent a $US10 billion industry in the United States, rivaling the box office revenue of Hollywood movies.

Some states have already passed laws regulating the sales, although the video game industry has won some early court battles against them.

At a recent news conference on Capitol Hill, Democrat Senator Clinton said legal restraints should be imposed to keep inappropriate video games from children, in the same way laws protect children from tobacco, alcohol and pornography.

In some video games, characters routinely spray each other with machine gun fire, drive over pedestrians and kill police officers, Senator Clinton said, saying it was all too easy for minors to buy such games:These video games are stealing the innocence of our children. Our bill puts teeth into the standards set by the industry.

The former first lady introduced the bill along with Democratic senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Evan Bayh of Indiana. They did not discuss prospects for advancing the legislation, but said they expected to attract some Republican sponsors.
 

The bill would prohibit any business from selling or renting a video game rated "Mature", "Adults-Only" or "Ratings Pending" to anyone younger than 17. Violation would be a federal misdemeanour. On-site managers of stores that made the prohibited sales would be subject to a fine of $US1000 or 100 hours of community service for the first offence; and $US5000 or 500 hours of community service for each subsequent offence.

Video game ratings are set by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, an independent non-profit group established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association. The president of that association, Douglas Lowenstein, said the proposed measure was unconstitutional and infringed on the industry's creative rights: We place our trust in parents, not Congress, to decide what's right for their families he said in a statement.

But Senator Lieberman said he was confident the law was constitutional, because it did not impinge on freedom of expression, only restricted sales to minors. There has been no ruling on the matter from the US Supreme Court, he said. Courts in America have not been hesitant to uphold laws that limit children's access to pornography. It's very ironic that courts have now struck down attempts to limit children's access to violent materials, he said.

 

17th December   Family Tiers Cause Tears

From The Ledger

Over the past few months, the cable industry has been faced with a double-barreled onslaught. Congress – specifically Sen. Ted Stevens, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, has been making noises about requiring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to hold cable and satellite programming to the same "decency" standards as broadcast media.

In addition, FCC head Kevin Martin, at Stevens' hearings on "Indecency in the Media" announced a revamping of a recent FCC study that, this time, allegedly would show that "a la carte" cable programming would be cheaper than program packagesa.

Now comes the news that National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Kyle McSlarrow has outlined plans for a number of cable operators voluntarily to start selling "family tier" programming; in other words, packages of channels with offerings such as Nickelodeon, FOX Family, ABC Family, Disney and others that, operators hope, will be so inoffensive to indecency-obsessed adults that the organizations that cater to these prudes, such as Parents Television Council, will get off the cable companies' backs and stop pressing the FCC to make indecency regulations apply to paid-access channels.

According to McSlarrow, Comcast and Time-Warner, the nation's top two cable operators, will start offering "family choice" tiers in spring 2006, and several other operators are expected to do so as well. However, the tiers will be available only on digital cable systems, not analog – but with the congressional mandate for all broadcasters to go digital by 2007, that caveat should not be considered much of a problem.

Stevens has scheduled a further hearing on media indecency for Jan. 19, though with the cable operators' cave-in, it's unclear whether that hearings will actually be held. In the meantime, both broadcast media owners and cable operators, clearly worried about possible congressional action, will be scurrying to come up with new proposals they hope will fly with the pro-censorship crowd.

 

11th December   Free Speech Zone Anything but Free

From The Ledger

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Polk County on Friday, saying the county's policy to use the free speech zone set up outside the county administration building (like a speakers corner) is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tampa, alleges several elements of the policy violate First Amendment rights, including a rule that requires users of the site to have a $500,000 insurance policy.

The lawsuit comes a week after the county officials denied the ACLU use of the site because it did not provide the insurance.

The real problem here is that (the county) has set a policy in place that purports to create a free speech zone, but it's only a free speech zone for those who can afford to cough up the funds to take advantage of it, said Rebecca H. Steele, director of the Tampa chapter of the ACLU.

The organization is also challenging a portion of the policy that requires interested parties to apply 21 days in advance and a rule that bars displays from including pornography, obscenities or commercial speech.

 

11th December   MPAA about to be Rated

From The Guardian

A documentary which investigates America's notoriously secretive film ratings board has itself fallen foul of the organisation's restrictive NC-17 classification.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated aims to blow the lid off the Motion Picture Association of America, which is charged with classifying films from the perspective of "the average American parent" but has itself been criticised for failing to outline its criteria to film-makers.

Ironically, This Film was handed the NC-17, the badge of shame, because it includes segments from previous films whose chances were damaged by the board's decision.

It is important that this film be seen by as many people as possible as it deals with an insidious form of censorship resulting from a ratings process that has been kept secret for more than 30 years, said director Kirby Dick.

The NC-17 rating, which replaced the X rating in 1990, denies admission to anyone aged 17 and under. It has proved the commercial death of many a film because it restricts the number of cinemas where it can be shown and video stores where it will be stocked on DVD.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated looks in-depth at issues such as whether films with a homosexual theme fare worse than those with heterosexual content in the ratings process, and asks why movies with violent themes are deemed more suitable for viewing by young people than those which contain sex scenes.

It also attempts to reveal exactly who sits on the board, which has existed since 1922 and includes chairmen and presidents of the seven major producers and distributors of motion pictures and television programmes in the United States - Sony, Warner Bros, Paramount, MGM, Fox, Disney and Universal.

Independent film-makers often complain that they are not party to information provided by the MPAA to directors at the major studios on how to avoid the NC-17 rating.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated is set to premiere at the Sundance film festival in 2006.

 

10th December   Extreme Charges Reinstated

See AVN for a more complete analysis of the case

In a unanimous opinion released today, a three-judge panel of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling of District Court judge Gary Lancaster and reinstated all charges against Extreme Associates, Rob Black and Lizzy Borden.

Extreme's attorneys, H. Louis Sirkin and Jennifer Kinsley, were undeterred.  I haven't yet read the opinion, but I got the gist of it from Reed Lee. So everybody understands, they didn't blow away our argument, and most importantly, they didn't blow us away on standing. They said we had the right to bring the issue, and that puts us way ahead of the game. The important thing is having won it in the district court, because we can now go forward with our appeals ... without having exposed our client to the danger of what potentially could happen in a trial.

In January of this year, obscenity charges against Black and Borden were thrown out in the first federal obscenity prosecution in over a decade. The two were charged in August 2003 with distributing obscene videos to Pittsburgh addresses through the mail and transmitting obscene images over the Internet.

 

8th December   Obscene Sentence

From AVN

A federal judge recently sentenced a Florida man to five years in prison for conspiring to distribute obscene videotapes.

Sanford Wasserman maintained his innocence and told the judge that he resented being made a “poster child” for a Bush administration “crusade” against pornography

Wasserman pleaded guilty earlier this year under an agreement that allows him some appeal rights. He later tried to withdraw the plea but was turned down by the judge, according to the story.

Prosecutors said Wasserman conspired with Thomas Lambert of Montana to distribute obscene videos. In court records, prosecutors characterized some of the tapes, which were available through mail-order catalogues, as depicting bestiality and violent sex, the story said.

Lambert pleaded guilty and was sentenced in June to two-and-a-half years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer called Wasserman the “king pin” in a distribution business and argued for a longer sentence than Lambert’s to act as a deterrent. He said Wasserman’s five-year sentence may be one of the stiffest imposed in a recent obscenity case.

 

5th December   Stop Snitching

From the Sentinel and Enterprise
From Enid News

City officials expressed significant concern that a T-shirt vilified Thursday by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino is sold in two downtown clothing stores, saying the apparel subverts the Fitchburg Police Department's work to reduce violence and drug dealing in the city.

The "Stop Snitching" shirt, a motto first popularized earlier this year in an underground DVD featuring Baltimore drug dealers, is sold in JJ & E Fashion and Manhattan Fashion, which are both located on Main Street.

Anyone that supports that type of mentality is either ignorant or their intent is malicious, Police Chief Edward F. Cronin said of the shirt. I strongly discourage that type of advertising with such a negative message, especially to young people, because they are the people who get affected the most by it and are the most vulnerable.

The shirt was displayed Friday in two varieties at JJ & E Fashion: One featured the slogan emblazoned on a stop sign and the other had a smiling face's mouth zippered.

The store also had several T-shirts on one wall featuring a simply drawn, snowman, a mildly subtle reference to cocaine, popularized by the rapper Young Jeezy on his debut compact disc, "Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101."

I would hope the merchants selling it should know it's not good for the city, not good for them and not good for the people who wear it, Mayor Dan H. Mylott said.

Luis Cruz, a salesperson at JJ & E Fashion, said the shirt is one of the store's more popular items, but does not believe its message is any worse than sexually explicit images or pirated CDs. I sell the T-shirts like any other item. If that was illegal, how come the police don't go to the people who made them?"

The T-shirt's slogan has come to symbolize the tension between police officers seeking insider information in order to penetrate crime circles, and tight-knit gangs punishing their looser-lipped cohorts --

The Boston mayor said Thursday at a news conference the city's Inspectional Services Division will go into every retail store that sells the shirts and remove them.

I would be ashamed of our society if they did something (that drastic) about it, Ward 2 Councilor Norman L. Boisvert said. I believe it is against the Constitution to stop them from selling those T-shirts. You can't dictate to society what (people) wear.

Police Chief Cronin expressed wonder at how Menino could enforce his comments. I have no idea how that could be done in a legal way.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts agrees with Cronin's assessment. Its lawyers today sent a letter to Menino and Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole urging them to stop the announced plan. To have uniformed Boston police officers visit retail stores to 'strongly recommend' that merchants should not sell these T-shirts is a form of official censorship, which is fundamentally inconsistent with the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression, John Reinstein, the ACLU of Massachusetts' legal director, said in a statement.

One clothing store owner agreed Saturday to stop selling the "Stop Snitching" T-shirts amid concerns the message was intimidating murder witnesses during a surge in violent crime. Store owner Antonio Ennis, after meeting with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and outraged community leaders, said he would stop selling the shirts in his store and over the Internet.

Antonio Ansaldi Clothing has stocked the shirts since 1999 and sold 300 to 400 a month, he said.

 

4th December   Within 500 feet of a Rights Violation

From AVN which carries a more detailed version of the story

A 1977 Indiana statute which makes it a crime for anyone to sell or display for sale sexually explicit materials within 500 feet of a church or school has been barred from being enforced against Video-Home-One, Inc., an Indianapolis video store doing business as V-H-One, whose stock of adult titles comprised less than 10 percent of its floor space.

This is not an ordinance; it's a criminal statute, noted attorney J. Michael Murray, whose partner Steven Shafron successfully argued the motion for temporary restraining order before U.S. District Court judge David F. Hamilton. What was at stake here was a felony offense. This poor entrepreneur had been in business for 15 years, and there happens to be a church nearby, and one day, he got a letter from the county prosecutor's office telling him that if he doesn't remove all of his adult merchandise, he will be criminally prosecuted and charged with a felony carrying a potential prison term, and so he was given 30 days within which to either comply with the prosecutor's demand or face criminal prosecution.

Indiana Code Sec. 35-49-3-3(a) provides, in pertinent part, that, Except as provided in subsection (b), a person who knowingly or intentionally... (3) sells or displays for sale to any person matter that is harmful to minors within five hundred (500) feet of the nearest propertyline of a school or church ... commits a Class D felony.

I've never seen a statute like this before, Murray said: I don't know whether any other state has this kind of a criminal statute, but I haven't seen it. And to my knowledge, our client is the first one ever to have been prosecuted under it. We weren't able to find any history of any prior prosecutions.

Although Indianapolis does have an adult zoning ordinance, V-H-One, with its small adult selection, was not in violation of it. The use of the state statute was apparently an attempt to maneuver around the local zoning authority, whose code does not define V-H-One as an adult business.

The statutory restriction on the location of sales of sexually explicit materials could survive First Amendment scrutiny only on the theory that the restriction is likely to reduce the so-called secondary effects of legal sexually-oriented businesses, wrote Judge Hamilton in his opinion. The court has before it no evidence that a business like plaintiff's generates the types of secondary effects that can justify location restrictions as in the Alameda Books line of cases. The court therefore found that plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of its challenge to the statute and was otherwise entitled to a temporary restraining order.

The court went into a fair amount of detail as to how it came to its conclusion, which relied heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2002 decision in City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books.

 

1st December

Updated 18th December

Updated 26th December

Updated 26th December

Updated 28th December

Updated 30th December

  Guilty Until Proved Guilty

Based on an article from The Ledger

Prosecutors are asking a judge to revoke bail for Christoper Wilson because his adult pornography Web site continues to operate. Wilson is required to "refrain from criminal activity" while out on bail and his Web site is illegal, the State Attorney's Office alleges in court documents filed this week.

Prosecutor Brad Copley is asking Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance to send Wilson back to jail, and a hearing has been set for Dec. 16.

After Wilson's Oct. 7 arrest on 301 trumped up obscenity charges, Wilson moved out of Polk County, according to his lawyer, Lawrence Walters. Wilson's parents paid $30,000 to a bail bondsman and agreed to be liable for his $151,000 bail to get Wilson out of jail Oct. 12.

His Web site, hosted by a server in Amsterdam, has remained in operation since then and was still operating Tuesday night. Copley maintains that by continuing to operate the Web site and by allowing new images to be downloaded, Wilson is breaking the law.

Since the defendant's release from jail on pre-trial release on Oct. 12, 2005, he has committed new crimes involving Wholesale Promotion of Obscene Materials and Distribution or Transmission of Obscene materials, utilizing new and different photographs, When Wilson was arrested Oct. 7, Copley said that even though the Web site was hosted outside the United States, the fact that Wilson lived in Polk County while running the Web site meant that he is subject to Polk County's interpretation of obscenity laws.

Although Wilson no longer lives in Polk County, the State Attorney's Office thinks that running that Web site is illegal and therefore Wilson is violating his bail conditions, according to Chip Thulberry, the state attorney's spokesman in Polk County.

But Wilson's lawyer said there has been no legal determination that the Web site is illegal. We're putting the cart before the horse here by trying to revoke his bond for continuing to do something that hasn't been proved to be illegal. Adult materials are presumed to be protected by the First Amendment until a jury determines that they're obscene. Asking that his bond be revoked for activity that's occurring when he doesn't live in Polk County any more is somewhat unusual. My law office has never seen anything like it in an obscenity case.

Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, said his organization might get involved in the case: I must have missed where they (Brad Copley and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd) were elected to be worldwide censors.

Simon said that Polk County has no right to prosecute what someone in another county does, and what people all over the world view on the Internet: What right do they have to decide what people who live in Berlin and London and Hong Kong and New York access in the privacy of their own homes?

If Wilson's bail is revoked, he said, That would trigger the concern and involvement of us and everyone else who has worked to keep the Internet open and available as a system of free expression.

Wilson's Web site features nude pictures and video clips sent in by Web site members. For the past eight or nine months it has offered soldiers serving overseas free access in exchange for pictures proving they were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of the pictures were gory, and featured sarcastic comments underneath. The site has generated worldwide controversy.

18th December   Update: Persecuted in Polk

Based on an article from the Orlando Sentinel

Christopher Wilson, the operator of a graphic Web site who was arrested in October after material on his site was deemed obscene, is back in the Polk County Jail.

A prosecutor successfully argued in court Friday that Wilson, whose Web site featured sexual and war-dead photographs, violated conditions of his pretrial release by allowing new sexually explicit pictures to be placed on the site, said Chip Thullbery, administrative assistant state attorney.

Wilson removed the sexual photos and videos from his Web site several weeks ago, but that wasn't enough to keep him out of jail. As soon as he was put on notice that there was a problem, he made every effort to remove them [the sexual items], said Larry Walters, Wilson's lawyer. Apparently that wasn't good enough for the state or sufficient for the judge.

Wilson was arrested Oct. 7 on a trumped up 300 misdemeanor counts of possessing and distributing obscene materials and one felony count of wholesale promotion of obscene materials. The charges against Wilson stem from 20 videos and 80 photographs. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has said the charges are not related to the war-dead pictures. [yeah yeah...]

Wilson posted bail several days after his arrest and was released from jail. Walters said Wilson has since moved from Polk to Orange County.

Thullbery said it doesn't matter that Wilson removed the items from his site. He violated the law while he was out on bond, Thullbery said.

Wilson gained national attention for his Web site, which the Sentinel is not naming because it contains an expletive ie
www.nowthatsfuckedup.com

Because American soldiers had trouble using their credit cards to pay and access the pornography, Wilson allowed them free access if they submitted a photograph proving they were serving in the war. What resulted were gory war photos.

Walters has said Wilson is exercising his First Amendment rights by operating the Web site. He said no one ever told Wilson to take the site down. Also, Walters said, the underlying obscenity case hasn't been proved. Speech is presumed to be protected, he said, until a jury speaks.

After Friday's hearing, Walters called the case "unprecedented." It's a very disturbing decision, Walters said.

Wilson is being held without bail. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Feb. 7.

26th December   Update:   Supremely Obscene Incarceration

Based on an article from The Ledger

Former Lakeland resident Christopher Wilson was still in jail Christmas Eve on obscenity charges relating to his internet pornography Web site.

But late Saturday, he received a note of good news: The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether Wilson should be granted bail.

Wilson's lawyer, Lawrence Walters, said that the Supreme Court has made arrangements to receive a filing by e-mail and immediately start considering it. His firm planned to submit the filing Saturday night, Walters said. The filing will ask that Wilson be released from the Polk County Jail immediately. We are hopeful that the court will act quickly in order to give Chris Wilson some time with his family this Christmas, Walters said.

Walters' law firm has been communicating with the clerk of the United States Supreme Court all day Saturday, he said. The Supreme Court tends to take First Amendment matters very seriously. This is an emergency matter, and they've agreed to consider it over the Christmas weekend, Walters said.

On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court on Friday rejected an emergency motion that Walters filed last week. The Florida Supreme Court said it did not have jurisdiction, Walters said.

Wilson's Web site generated international controversy earlier this year when he began allowing soldiers serving in the military to send in pictures of alleged dead Iraqi insurgents, which he posted to his site. Wilson was arrested by the Polk County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 7 on 301 charges of obscenity, one of them a felony charge. After he posted bail, he moved out of the county and continued running his Web site. Then, on Dec. 16, his bail was revoked because he allegedly had allowed new, obscene pictures and video clips to be posted to his Web site. This violated the law, which meant that his bail needed to be revoked, prosecutors argued.

His lawyer argued that until a jury legally determines that pictures are obscene, they are protected by the First Amendment. But Judge J. Dale Durrance reviewed the pictures and said there was probable cause to think they were obscene.

Wilson is being held in solitary confinement because he is a former police officer, and there are fears for his safety from the general inmate population, according to his lawyer.

28th December   Update:   Supreme Persecution

Based on an article from the North County Gazette

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant Christopher Wilson's emergency request for bail that would have released him from the Polk County Jail where he is being held on 301 trumped up obscenity charges relating to his operation of a website.

Wilson, a former police officer, claims he has a First Amendment right to allow alleged pornographic materials to be posted on his site.

Wilson was arrested in October by Polk County officials for alleged sexual conduct on his website. He had been free on $151,000 bail since his arrest Oct. 7 but trial court judge J. Dale Durrance revoked his bail and sent him to jail, ruling that Wilson had violated his pretrial release by allowing new sexually explicit photographs to be posted to the site.

Wilson's attorney, Larry Walters, said that Wilson had removed the sexual photos and videos from his website several weeks ago but the judge wasn't swayed. The judge ordered that Wilson would remain jailed until his next court appearance which is scheduled for Feb. 7.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the Free Speech Coalition and the First Amendment Lawyers Association late last week asked the 2nd District Court of Appeals via emergency petition to release Wilson but the DCA refused pending a full hearing.

On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court rejected an emergency motion that Walters filed seeking bail for Wilson, saying that it did not have jurisdiction.

Late Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider if Wilson should be granted bail, agreeing to receive a filing by email for immediate consideration. However on Sunday, Christmas Day, the Supreme Court rejected Wilson's attempt to reverse the decision of the 10th Judicial Circuit Court and Judge Durrance to revoke Wilson's bail. No reason was given for the denial.

Walters will be filing another motion with the 2nd District Court of Appeals for Wilson's release.

Sexual expression in cyberspace is protected by the First Amendment, said Gainesville attorney Gary Edinger, who submitted the amicus brief to the DCA last week on behalf of the three organizations. It's unprecedented for government officials to use imprisonment to prevent the distribution of material over the Internet.

This case is typical of how obscenity law can be misused to censor unpopular speech, said Michelle L. Freridge, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition. We are proud to stand with the ACLU and FALA in support of Chris Wilson, and we look forward to an expeditious and positive decision by the Second District Court of Appeal in this matter.

According to the Polk sheriff, 20 films and 80 photos are involved in the charges against Wilson but none involve photographs of war dead. The controversial website has obtained international attention and the sheriff said that sheriff's investigators had spoken with officials from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division regarding Wilson.

30th December   Update: Appealing for Reason

Based on an article from The Ledger

A Lakeland-based appellate court ordered Thursday that alleged Internet pornographer Christopher Wilson be immediately released from jail.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal did not state in its brief order why Wilson should be released, but did say that a written opinion would follow on the matter. The three-judge panel ruled unanimously.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Wilson had not yet been released.

Wilson is known for operating a controversial Web site from his Lakeland apartment, which garnered national attention for giving soldiers free access to pornography in exchange for posting pictures from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The former Eagle Lake police officer was arrested Oct. 7 on 301 trumped up obscenity-related charges.

In November, prosecutors requested that Wilson's $151,000 bail be revoked because his Web site continued to operate.

Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance revoked Wilson's bond on Dec. 16, finding there was probable cause to think the pictures were obscene.

 

1st December

  Federal  Game Burning

Based on an article from CNET News

A new front in the political wars over sex and violence in video games opened Tuesday when Senators Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman called for a new crackdown on the industry by the federal government.

The two Democratic senators claimed sex and violence in video games has spiraled out of control, pointing to a recent flap over whether Rockstar Games embedded a sex-themed scene in its popular Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas video game.

Parents should be able to make sure their kids can't walk into a store and buy a video game that has graphic, violent and pornographic content, Clinton said in a statement saying the actual bill will be introduced when the Senate returns from vacation on Dec. 12.

The announcement coincides with Tuesday's release of a report by the National Institute on Media and the Family, which called the industry-operated rating system for video games "beyond repair."

Pressure on the video game industry also came from a third political front: Ted Stevens, an Alaskan nutter, who convened a full-day hearing Tuesday on the topic of "decency" in TV and radio broadcasts and through computer games. America lacks the kind of moral compass the country should have for our young people, Stevens warned.

The political net effect was to put the industry, already reeling from a series of state laws targeting video games, on the defensive. (It had hoped to defuse criticism with an announcement a day earlier that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony will include parental controls in their next-generation consoles.)

Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association who testified before the Senate hearing, said in a statement sent to CNET News.com that the Clinton-Lieberman bill was unconstitutional and unnecessary: If enacted, the bill will be struck down as have similar bills passed in several states. So while this bill is positioned as a pro-family measure, in truth it will leave parents no better off.

Details on the measure, tentatively titled the Family Entertainment Protection Act, remains scarce. Lieberman's office refused to provide details, a sign that the proposed legislation may not been finalized.

But a summary that the two senators distributed says that the bill will prohibit the sale of "mature" video games to anyone younger than 18 years old; order the Federal Trade Commission to "investigate misleading ratings" on video games; solicit public complaints about video games; and require an "annual, independent analysis of game ratings" separate from the one currently created by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

The ESRB already rates games based on categories including alcohol, blood, violence, sex and nudity. In addition to a detailed description typically found on the back of a video game box, the board also creates a general seven-level rating indicating the game is appropriate for ages including "early childhood," "teen," or "adults only."

Clinton has been a critic of video games even before the sex-scandal involving Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas erupted in July. Clinton said in March, for instance: Probably one of the biggest complaints I've heard is about some of the video games, particularly 'Grand Theft Auto,' which has so many demeaning messages about women and so encourages violent imagination and activities and it scares parents.

Criticism of the video game industry has been a bipartisan phenomenon. The House of Representatives voted 355 to 21 for a resolution calling for an investigation of Grand Theft Auto, and a similar resolution was introduced in the Senate.

 

30th November   I Don't Believe in Censorship BUT...I only Listen to Nutters

From Anchorage Daily News
From AVN

Senator Ted Stevens (Republican) held a public forum on "Indecency in the Media". The hearing began about 9:30 a.m. and was scheduled to last the entire day, but in fact concluded just before 4 p.m., with the afternoon session devoted to confrontations between the morning's speakers and members of the general public

The morning, however, brought  some 20 speakers that included several senators, plenty of religio-reactionaries, several broadcast and cable/satellite industry executives – but no one from a recognized free speech group. It was an attempt to censor broadcast and cable/satellite speech even more than it already is, as well as an attempt to browbeat cable companies into allowing consumers to pick and choose just which cable channels they will pay for, rather than requiring them to buy packages of channels, some of which several of the speakers seemed to find offensive.

We're not involved in this to bring about censorship, Stevens claimed in his opening remarks.
BUT...We're here to give an opportunity for those who represent the families of America to listen to those of you run the media, that they currently believe does not fulfill their wishes to have the kind of moral compass that our country should have for our young people.

Stevens wants to craft a bill that doesn't just increase the penalties on broadcasters who use the public airwaves. He said he wants a bill that also addresses the TV programming that arrives in the home via cable, satellite and, eventually, the phone line. A few conservative critics have grumbled that Stevens and other political leaders aren‘t moving fast enough.

Since the vast, overwhelming majority of the public is outraged by this, why can‘t we get something done? pondered Brent Bozell. He is president of the Parents Television Council and one of the fiercest critics of raunchy and God-mocking material he says has "polluted" the airwaves.

Stevens and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, one of the invited speakers, criticized cable and satellite pricing bundles that require parents to pay for channels they find objectionable to get kid-oriented channels they want. Martin, like Stevens, suggested customers should be able to select a tier of family-oriented channels. Martin also suggested "a la carte" pricing - allowing to consumers to buy only the channels they want.

If cable and satellite operators continue to refuse to offer parents more tools such as family-friendly programming packages, basic indecency and profanity restrictions may be a viable alternative that should be considered, Martin said.

CBS executive Martin Franks said his network tried showing a family-friendly lineup of wholesome shows like Touched by an Angel. And we got killed in the marketplace, he said.

Parents already have the tools to ensure that their kids see only suitable TV, he and other industry executives said. The V-Chip is installed in most TVs purchased since 1999. It is a device that allows parents to block shows that are rated for mature audiences or "parental guidance suggested." I think we can make the V-Chip work, Franks said. It is not that complicated, Mr. Chairman, and it exists today.

Bozell predictably compared the V-Chip and TV ratings to erecting road signs warning of a pothole ahead rather than fixing the pothole. The V-Chip, he said, has made the problem worse. As soon as we got the V-Chip what we also got, almost immediately, was some of the most offensive and some of the most indecent programming on television, he said. He cited Comedy Central's South Park, often criticized for its crudeness, as an example.

 

28th November   Human Rights Told to Bugger Off in Virginia

From Washington Blade

The Virginia Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of two men who were convicted of "solicitation to commit sodomy" earlier this month.

The solicitation charge, which carries a three-year maximum jail sentence, is based on Virginia's "Crimes Against Nature" law, which states: If a person carnally knows in any manner any male or female person by the anus or by the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

The cases of Joel Singson and Andy Joe Tijan were combined by the Court of Appeals in its Nov. 8 ruling. In both cases, the men were convicted after they discussed their desire to perform oral sex with undercover police officers while in public bathrooms.

Gregory Nevins, of Lambda Legal argued that the ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence vs. Texas case nullified all state sodomy laws, and it violates freedom of speech for Virginia to prosecute Singson and Tijan for soliciting, even in public, conduct that the Supreme Court has said is constitutionally protected.

In its decision, the court said that Lawrence only addressed adult consensual intimacy in the home and explicitly noted that the case did not involve public conduct or prostitution leaving Virginia free to prohibit sexual activity that occurs in public. The court also said that it found the freedom of speech argument "unpersuasive."

Virginia's Crimes Against Nature law has been used to target gay man around the state, and to justify discrimination against gays in general, according to Dyana Mason, executive director of Equality Virginia.

Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, has been involved in arguing gay rights cases before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has spoken very clearly in the Lawrence case, and said that laws that interfere with Americans' personal choices regarding sex must meet the constitutional standard. What is going on here is not the enforcement of some public boundary, what is going on here is gay baiting and then trying to avoid Lawrence's prohibition on that.

Wolfson argued that although the Lawrence decision dealt with private sexual conduct, people should be free to discuss in public whether to engage in acts the Supreme Court has found are constitutionally protected. If every heterosexual who talked about sex in public was arrested, we'd be living in a very different country.

Nevins said that he intends to appeal the decision to the Virginia Supreme Court.

 

18th November   Fighting Obscene Police Action

See Multiple Counts of Perversion of Justice for the rather dubious story so far. Sounds more like political censorship than a simple case of obscenity

From AVN

In a move to have an obscenity case against a client dismissed, First Amendment attorney Lawrence G. Walters has filed with a Polk County circuit court a series of motions that claim Florida’s obscenity statute is unconstitutional.

Walters represents Christopher Wilson, a Florida man, who was arrested in October and charged with 301 obscenity violations based on videos and still photographs displayed on his website, NowThatsFuckedUp.com. The member-participation adult entertainment site became infamous after it was reported that Wilson granted U.S. GIs free access to its for-pay members area in exchange for photos from Iraq and Afghanistan. Wilson, a former police officer, said American soldiers serving overseas could not access online porn because credit-card companies would not authorize charges originating from that region.

The prosecution is problematic on a number of levels, says Walters. First and foremost, Florida’s law is vague because it fails to define “community,” a key aspect of obscenity law. Walters has given the court several options for the definition, including the confines of Polk County (the most restrictive), the state of Florida, the U.S. as a whole, and the “cyber-community” encompassed by the Internet (the most lenient).

We don’t believe Polk County community standards should be allowed to determine what materials are available on the Internet, Walters says, echoing a theme becoming more common in cases involving adult content in the Internet age.

In addition, Walters says, the word “prurient” contained in Florida’s statute is no longer relevant in today’s society. That word is no longer in general use today, and juries don’t know what it means. We believe the law should be struck down on that alone. He cites a similar Florida case from several years ago in which the prosecution of a “house of ill fame” was thrown out based on antiquated terminology.

If the terminology arguments don’t sway the court, Walters hopes a “federal pre-emption” one will. In certain situations, only the feds can regulate activities without violating the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, Walters says. In previous cases in seven other states, ‘harmful to minors’ cases were struck down on Commerce Clause grounds.

According to §230 of the Communications Decency Act, the embattled law that continues to govern obscenity prosecutions at the federal level, all state obscenity laws that are inconsistent with federal law automatically are pre-empted.

Between those two arguments, which are in many ways related, we hope to convince the court that only the federal government can regulate obscenity, as opposed to the states, Walters avers.

There’s also a Fourth Amendment issue involved, and if precedent is any indication, it’s a lulu. Brought to light by the ruling in U.S. vs. Extreme Associates, the argument it’s not illegal for Americans to possess ‘obscene’ materials in the privacy of their own homes or to buy them, so how can a governmental body insist that it’s illegal to offer them for sale? also carries considerable weight, based on previous federal district court rulings in Pennsylvania and Texas.

Walters also filed a motion asking the court to suppress all materials seized as evidence in the case on the grounds that the warrant was overly broad. By failing to specify the materials of interest – essentially allowing the investigating officers to seize anything that might be obscene in their own opinions – the warrant violated special conditions attached to First Amendment prosecutions, Walters says. That speaks to the issue of probable cause, he notes, because the investigators selected images and videos individually instead of considering the website as a whole.

In this case in particular, that denied the court the opportunity to consider the extreme political value Walters and Wilson believe is embodied in the website: combatant-taken and -posted photographs from within a war zone make a powerful political statement.

It’s the political value of the website that Walters and Wilson believe made it a target for “retaliatory prosecution.” We’re still investigating any potential tie between the federal government and this local prosecution, Walters says.

In the meantime, in case the court does not dismiss the charges against Wilson, Walters and his team are “investigating a comparable evidence issue,” he says. If the matter goes to trial, the defense will need to show what types of adult materials are acceptable in Polk County. To that end, Walters is soliciting input from other adult webmasters whose server logs might provide insight about Polk County traffic to adult entertainment destinations online. Members of the online adult entertainment community who can shed light on the issue may contact Walters at larry@lawrencewalters.com.

 

15th November   Hard Tax

From Kansas.com

A special panel of Kansas lawmakers agreed Wednesday to introduce a bill in January that would impose a 10% excise tax on X-rated adult entertainment businesses. It would be applied to strip clubs and escort services as well as X-rated video products and books sold in adult book stores.

Rep. Kenny Wilk, a Lansing Republican and vice chairman of the Special Committee on Assessment and Taxation, said he expected a lot of legislative interest in the measure. Rep. Shari Weber, a Herington Republican and the bill's main supporter, went even further. I imagine that out of 165 legislators, there would only be a handful that would not support it, she said.

One possible problem, however, might be legislators who have signed a pledge to vote against any tax increase and might perceive the 10% tax -- even though it wouldn't be paid by everyone -- as breaking that oath. Every legislator has their own idea of what that pledge applies to, she said. Will it impact this bill? Absolutely. Once they have the opportunity to study the issue, however, I don't think there will be much opposition.

Even if the Legislature approved the bill and it was signed into law by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, it likely would face a court challenge from sex-oriented businesses. John Ivan, a Merriam lawyer representing three adult video and book stores in Wichita, told the committee last month that such a law would violate the right of free speech and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, litigation would follow passage of such a law, he said.

The Kansas proposal is modeled after a law passed last year in Utah and a proposal introduced earlier this year in Oklahoma. A lawsuit has been filed challenging the constitutionality of the Utah law.

One legal hurdle such a law might have to get over is whether the state could show a compelling reason to tax these businesses differently than others. Wilk said he thinks there is a clear link between the availability of pornography and sex crimes. That was disputed by Ivan, who said last month that no reliable study had proven a link. Critics of the measure have pointed out that not everyone who buys pornographic material, for example, commits sex offenses.

Sen. Pat Apple, a Louisburg Republican, told the committee that not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic but that alcoholic products are taxed differently because of the harm alcoholics cause society.

Under Wilk's proposal, money collected from the tax would be used for the prosecution and treatment of sex offenders. Wilk admitted that there are several parts of the bill that haven't been worked out. For example, it is unclear from Wilk's proposal whether the tax would be applied to regular video stores that keep X-rated videos in a back room. There also is the question of whether the tax would be applied to X-rated movies ordered over cable television systems or from hotel rooms.

 

14th November   A Nasty Attempt at Justice

It appears that the US will also need to build high density prison accommodation to house all the victims of this legislation.

From CNET News

The Bush administration announced on Thursday that it is lobbying for new laws that would bump up criminal penalties for pirates, expand criminal prosecutors' powers and punish anyone who "attempts" to infringe a copyright.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, speaking at an antipiracy summit here hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the Department of Justice recently submitted to Congress a "legislative package" aimed at toughening up intellectual-property enforcement amid evolving technology.  According to the proposal  being circulated by the department, the measure would create a new crime called "attempting to infringe a copyright" and subject it to the same penalties as more serious infringement offenses.

The proposal would also permit authorities to seize and destroy pirated and counterfeit goods--with a special nod to music, movies and digitally obtained materials. Also on that list are any goods used to produce pirated or counterfeit material, as well as property obtained with proceeds from the sale of pirated or counterfeit material.

In addition to possibly serving prison time, those convicted of infringements would, under the new law, have to pay the copyright holder "and any other victim of the offense" a sum to compensate for out-of-pocket losses resulting from the crime.

The Justice Department is also seeking in its proposal greater latitude for prosecutors. Right now it's only possible to enforce against copyrights that are registered with the government. The new proposal would make that true only in civil cases, allowing prosecutors to go after pirates regardless of whether the copyright is registered.

The Business Software Alliance--whose president lamented at Thursday's event the $33 billion annual toll from piracy on the software industry--applauded the move, saying the group looked forward to reviewing the proposed legislation. The Recording Industry Association of America also issued a statement of support.

That sentiment was not shared by the digital rights group Public Knowledge, which said in a statement that it wished the department:
had devoted some analysis as well to protecting the fair use rights of consumers. We are concerned that the Justice Department's proposal attempts to enforce copyright law in ways it has never before been enforced.

 

12th November

  An Indecency of Nutters

From AVN

Senate Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens plans to hold a Capitol Hill summit later this month in the hope of finding common ground among stakeholders on television decency legislation, according to a Republican committee aide.

The National Journal's Technology Daily reported Stevens has tentatively scheduled the summit for Tuesday, Nov. 29, during Congress’ Thanksgiving recess. The session will not be a hearing, but the aide said it will be open to the public.

Stevens plans to invite cable and broadcast industry representatives to participate — along with telecommunications companies that are rolling out fiber-optic video services, groups such as the Parents Television Council and the National Religious Broadcasters, and other interested parties.

Stevens also plans to invite ratings organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America, according to the National Journal. The aide said the summit also might include demonstrations of new parental control technologies that help to block racy material.

Stevens has circulated draft legislation to increase fines on broadcasters that air material the FCC deems indecent, but the aide said that measure does not include new decency requirements for cable content, the report said.

For much of the past year, Stevens has been mulling whether to include cable provisions in a broadcast decency bill. He also has urged the cable industry to voluntarily create a separate tier of channels free of violent, profane or sexual content, according to the story.

Cable industry leaders have said they have no plans to launch that type of “family tier,” the story said. They argue that a tiered system ultimately would reduce programming diversity and viewer choice.

But they have overhauled the television ratings system in recent months, and taken other voluntary steps to help parents shield their children from material they find objectionable.

 

12th November

  Nutter Mayor in Jackson...That's a Novelty.

From WLBT

A Jackson adult video store is back open, one day after the nutter mayor and police locked the doors.

The owner of the McDowell road adult video and bookstore was also arrested, and several items were taken as evidence.

Charles Hobby, says he has operated the bookstore for four years without any problems, so he was surprised when Mayor Frank Melton, and police showed up on his doorstep. It started with a raid at an adult bookstore on Terry road the last week of July.  One arrest was made, sex toys were confiscated, and the store closed by the city. Now Jackson Police and Mayor Frank Melton have set their sights on the adult bookstore on McDowell road.

Charles Hobby says, We haven't violated no law, he puts a key on the door and locks us up, then sends his people out last night and confiscates all my novelties. The wall where the sex toys were displayed is now empty, about ten grand worth, taken by police during Monday's unscheduled visit by the mayor and several detectives.

Hobby, who was arrested, says for four years he's operated quietly with a city permit, and within the law, even though state law says selling sex toys is illegal. Hobby says, We have got a license on the bulletin board right there the city issued us to do just that and thats the way we've been operating.

We were taken on a tour of a the store, and into a back area with private booths, where customers can sit and watch videos. Police say they found more violations there. Jackson Mayor Frank Melton says he found two men involved in an inappropriate act, but managers here at the store say there was no one back here at the time.

Hobby says, I just got done reviewing the tape and there was nobody in that room. Charles Hobby says the entire raid was captured by security cameras, and as far as he's concerned he's done nothing wrong.

Mayor Frank Melton declined to comment on camera Tuesday, but he did say he will continue to shut down the bookstore as long as they continue to operate.

Charles hobby says he's hired a lawyer, and will fight to keep his business open.

 

12th November   Mobility Restrictions

From Silicon

The major US carriers on Tuesday unveiled guidelines aimed at limiting children's access to adult content and services.

Those under the age of 18 would need parental or a guardian's permission to receive content that carriers offer that may be sexually explicit, excessively violent, or involve gambling, according to voluntary guidelines issued by the wireless industry's biggest trade group, CTIA.

Carriers also plan to make filters and other tools available to restrict internet access on wireless devices.

Steve Largent, CTIA president and chief executive officer, said: Parents must ultimately decide what materials are most suitable for their children, and wireless carriers participating in this important measure are committed to providing parents with the necessary tools to do so.

The top three wireless carriers are among the participants: Cingular Wireless, a joint venture of BellSouth and SBC Communications, Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group.

About 21 million five- to 19-year-olds had wireless phones by the end of 2004, according to the technology research firm IDC. The Federal Communications Commission in February urged the industry to act on the issue of adult content
.

 

10th November

  Petitioning for Free Speech

From AVN

Strip club owners say Seattle voters should decide whether brighter lights, tip jars and a four-foot distance between dancers and customers should be required in Seattle’s adult cabarets, according to a published report.

Attorneys for Seattle Citizens for Free Speech on Monday delivered petitions with more than 27,000 signatures calling for a ballot referendum to repeal the stricter strip club rules, the Associated Press reported. All the group needed to qualify was 14,000 valid signatures.

It is unclear when the question would go on the ballot. It could be as early as February or as late as next fall, according to the report.

Strip club owners say the new law is aimed at putting three clubs, now open, out of business,

 

8th November

  An Obscene Tax Demand

From AVN

Goalie Entertainment owner Edward Wedelstedt pleaded guilty Friday in Dallas to a federal obscenity charge, agreeing to forfeit three adult bookstores in Texas to authorities as part of his plea agreement.

Wedelstedt admitted one count of distributing obscene material in exchange for a 13-month prison term and charges being dropped against his wife and their company, Goalie Entertainment Holdings, Inc., as part of the plea bargain. Wedelstedt's attorney, Hank Asbill, said they came away "pleased" with the agreement considering what was at stake.

Other than an outright dismissal of all the charges, we’re extremely pleased, Asbill told AVN.com Friday. Eddie Wedelstedt for nearly 20 years has operated adults-only bookstores in Texas, and one of those movies out of nearly 200,000 titles have been deemed obscene in the Northern District of Texas (and nowhere else in U.S.). ... Mr. Wedelstedt never personally viewed the movie, nor did he personally send it… But he has taken responsibility.

Wedelstedt will be sentenced in February. He and seven others were named in a 23-count indictment in March for racketeering, obscenity and tax charges. The judge must either accept the terms of the entire plea agreement or reject it, at which time Wedelstedt can withdraw his plea forcing a trial. If the judge accepts, he would likely serve only 11 months in a mininum security federal prison camp.

Asbill said: With respect to the tax offense, Mr. Wedelstedt conceded that between 1997 and 1999 he gave some employees cash bonuses in which those employees did not pay their own taxes on. During each of those three years, the average tax loss to government was $40,000 a year. During that same time, Eddie and his company overpaid their taxes by many hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not low millions of dollars.

Of the 23-count indictment, 18 of those counts referred to interstate transportation of obscene material by common carrier; interstate transportation of obscene material for purpose of sale or distribution; engaging in the business of selling or transferring obscene matter; and aiding and abetting those three alleged acts.

The final two counts of the indictment were RICO forfeiture, which asked for the forfeiture of millions in cash, all stock and other interests that Wedelstedt and Goalie have in 53 listed companies, 10 parcels of land and an airplane.

The bottom line is all of Eddie’s 1,000 employees are out of harm’s way, Asbill said.
His company continues to thrive everywhere except temporarily in the Northern District of Texas, and his foundation Eddie’s Kids will continue to thrive as well. So when the government starts patting itself on the back about this, someone ought to match up the indictment and charges, and forfeiture they were seeking against the plea agreement in this case, and you can draw your own conclusion.

 

3rd November   Nutter Senator Getting it Off his Chest

Based on an article from CBS 2 Chicago

Abercrombie & Fitch, the US clothing retailer is taking heat over its racy catalog.  A state senator is fighting Fitch over some supposedly provocative T-shirts.

Anatomy Tutor T-shirt logoPoliticians are objecting to Abercrombie’s latest fashion T-shirts -- tees with attitude as they're called.

But the candidate for governor calls them smut. I think that's an unacceptable product, said State Senator Steve Rauschenberger. This is not good for our children. It’s not good for society, Rauschenberger wants to pass a resolution forcing the store to pull the shirts off the market.

A selection of CBS viewers weren't impressed, All felt, government intervention is unnecessary. It's the parent's role to restrict their kids, not our politicians, they said.

Store clerks say the shirts are flying off the shelves.

 

31st October

  Seventeen Censors

From The Seattle Times

Unavailable in any of Albertsons' 2,500 Idaho locations was the October issue of Seventeen Magazine. The grocery chain pulled that issue from shelves earlier this month. The reason? An article on women's anatomy.

The article, titled Vagina 101, shows a drawing of a woman's genitalia with arrows pointing out the clitoris, the labia majora, the labia minora, the hymen and the anus. It provides a short description of each part of the anatomy, under the headline Owner's Manual. On the second page, the author addresses what's normal and what's not.

The Idaho-based Albertsons' corporate office issued a statement saying it pulled the October issue after receiving complaints from customers who considered the article inappropriate. The company has refused further comment.

Scott Spear, a University of Wisconsin professor of pediatrics who chairs Planned Parenthood's national medical committee, doesn't understand the fuss. It's rather straightforward and certainly not titillating and certainly not inappropriate for the readership, A key issue for that age group is, Am I normal? That's what the article talks about.

The story addresses such questions as how much pubic hair is healthy and whether girls should trim theirs. (On the latter, the article's answer is an emphatic no; it tells teens that the hair protects them from bacteria.)

Seventeen Magazine spokeswoman Elizabeth Dye defended the article, saying the magazine's readers perceive it as a trusted friend. So we talk about subjects that are important to them in an open and objective way.

 

30th October

  Stormy Climate for Games

From Ferrago

Gamespot today reports that Florida Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla has proposed a new bill, which aims to restrict the sale of 'adult-content' videogames to minors. The new law is pretty much identical to the law just passed by Californian legislators, and proposes $1,000 fines for retailers selling specially labelled 'unsuitable' titles to youngsters. De la Portilla's suggested bill covers Arcades as well as stores, and as with California will enforce 18-certificate labelling on selected games. With both Democrats and Republicans now backing numerous game restriction bills across the United States, it seems likely that such measures will grow in strength.

Of course, as in California, the games industry are expected to fight back with lawsuits which claim the new legislation is unconstitutional, even if it is passed in the state. One such case based along similar lines has already succeeded, but with pressure on 'adult' games mounting it can't be long before the debate is being raised at a national level, at which point games publishers may have to accept some form of censorship as in the UK, Australia and several other countries.

 

29th October

  Sex Club Clubbed

From The Indy Channel

A two-year battle between a sex club and Indianapolis council is over. A judge ordered the Reel One sex club on West Washington Street to shut down.

The club opened in 1992. City and police opened an investigation in 2003. Officials said they found nudity and large groups of people watching and having sex inside the club. The buildings doors were locked Wednesday evening after the ruling

The club's owners were involved in a protracted legal battle with the city. Their attorney maintained that the couple did nothing wrong and had a right to operate the sex club: The activity that occurs in a private setting among consenting adults is perfectly appropriate and lawful activity, said Reel One attorney, Richard Kammen.

Investigators said Reel One violates licensing laws, allows live sex on the premises, and operates within 500 feet of a residential neighborhood.

The judge not only ordered the owners to stop using the Reel One property for their sex club. They were also barred from running a live sex club anywhere else in the city.

 

28th October

  Nutters win in South Carolina

Based on an article from AVN

A grand jury indicted four sexually oriented businesses in South Carolina on charges of disseminating obscene materials, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors say the four businesses - Pandora's Boxxx, Lucy's Love Shop, 4 Your Eyes Only and Paradise - violate a state law that prohibits the sale of material that "depicts or describes in a patently offensive way sexual conduct," according to AP.

Nutters who opposed the businesses celebrated a victory.This is just the beginning of what could happen in our state, the Rev. Elva Martin, whose Anderson Prayer Task Force led opposition to sexually oriented businesses in the Anderson city limits, told the news service.

Ingo Stugg, owner of 4 Your Eyes Only, said he has been in business in Anderson for 10 years. How come we have licenses for years and years and they suddenly come out with these things? Where are we going where all these churches can tell us what we can and can't sell? We pay our taxes the same as anybody. If you don't like it, then look the other way.

Nutter opposition began to build last spring when Pandora's Boxxx opened, as the first sexually oriented business in Anderson's city limits, according to the story. The report said that Anderson's city council passed a law restricting where such businesses could be located, but about 4,000 residents signed a petition urging a citywide ban on sexually oriented businesses.

Anderson Mayor Richard Shirley said the matter was best settled in the courts. An arraignment date could come at the next general sessions court term on Nov. 7, prosecutor Scott McElhannon said.

 

26th October

  Ohio Nutters On Hold

From  Ohio.Com

A Bill that would regulate Ohio strip clubs is on hold for now.

Senate President Bill Harris on Tuesday delayed action on two bills, saying he has concerns but still hopes to get them passed in some form by the end of the year. Both had been scheduled for committee votes Wednesday and were expected to be recommended for full Senate votes.

One of the bills, which would ban most erotic dancing after 11 p.m. and lap dancing altogether, became the subject this week of complaints that religious conservatives pushing the bill have suggested Republican primary challenges to any GOP member - including Harris - who opposes it. The bill also gives townships more power to regulate adult businesses, a provision the clubs don't oppose.

Harris, an Ashland Republican, pulled the bill from the Judiciary and Criminal Justice Committee, which was set to vote on Wednesday, and parked it in Rules, which can either take up hearings or refer it to another committee. He said he was concerned about potential loopholes and did not act because of the political statements.

However, Harris said he was offended by statements in an e-mail by Phil Burress, president of Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values (CCV). The e-mail said: After this is over, CCV's new PAC (Political Action Committee) will be making sure every Republican who stood in the way of CDA (the strip club bill) passage will have to answer to the voters. Maybe in the form of a primary.

Harris said he was concerned that language added in the House, which passed the bill 92-5 in April, would allow seminude dancing to continue after 11 p.m. in clubs with liquor licenses but ban it for other types of clubs. Ohio law already allows fully nude dancing only in clubs that don't serve alcohol.

 

23rd October

  Gonzales Shows his Fetish for Censorship

From National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF)

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has announced that his office will specifically target bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior in pursuing new obscenity prosecutions. The Department of Justice began recruiting in late July for a new anti-obscenity squad to pursue obscenity prosecutions, and the FBI announced in September that it was forming an anti-obscenity task force to crack down on pornography.

Any website that has content containing bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior should be forewarned that prosecution is possible. Additionally, Federal sentencing guidelines state that any obscenity- related punishment should be enhanced for sadomasochistic material.

Forty people and businesses have been convicted of obscenity since 2001, and 20 additional indictments are pending according to Andrew Oosterbaan, chief of the Justice Department's child exploitation and obscenity section. There were only four obscenity prosecutions during the eight years of the Clinton administration.

Though adult content is, in theory, protected by the First Amendment, only a jury can determine if a work is obscene or not under the subjective set of standards that vary from one community to the next established in the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, Miller v. California.

Text is not inherently more protected than images when it comes to obscenity charges. The erotic fiction website Red Rose Stories is facing obscenity charges after federal agents raided the owner's home on October 3rd, taking computer equipment and diskettes that contained all of their files and site information.

The Department of Justice is clearly hoping that websites will self-censor or remove their content entirely. Midori, a fetish model and SM educator who teaches classes on bondage, has removed her website, BeautyBound.com, citing fear of obscenity prosecution. The owner of three SM websites, known as GrandPa DeSade, removed his websites from the Internet. SuicideGirls.com also announced they are self-censoring their materials over concerns about a possible obscenity crackdown.

Recent prosecutions of obscenity on websites include: A former police officer in Lakeland, Florida, was arrested on October 7th on over 300 obscenity-related charges for the sexual content posted on his website. The same day, webmaster Chris Wilson, owner of amateur website NowThatsFuckedUp.com, was raided on charges of obscenity by a local Sheriff s office.

I think it's crucial for us to stand up for consensual sadomasochism and other alternative sexual practices, says Barbara Nitke, fetish photographer. This is a battle worth fighting, and I hope everyone who can will just censor out the most provocative material from their websites, but keep them up. I also appeal to the lawyers in our community to help us find ways to keep people's websites up.

Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) have proactively challenged federal obscenity laws as applied to the Internet, arguing that obscenity laws based on "local community standards" are too vague and their existence burdens protected speech, resulting in self-censorship due to the fear of prosecution. A district court three-judge panel in New York ruled that while Nitke and the NCSF members were at risk, more proof was needed that obscenity laws cause otherwise protected speech to be restrained through acts of self-censorship. The case is currently on appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

The effect of silencing alternative lifestyle speech was exactly why we brought the lawsuit," says attorney John Wirenius, lead counsel for NCSF. "The self- censorship we are seeing underscores the importance of supporting our ongoing obscenity challenge.

 

23rd October

  Fighting Fund

Based on an article from AVN

The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) today recognized companies for their efforts over the past several months organizing fundraising events to benefit the 2257 Legal Defense Fund.

The fund was established earlier this year to raise donations that go exclusively to pay for the FSC legal challenge to the revamped and repressive federal labeling and record-keeping laws.

In an FSC press release, the organization said, These companies, along with many others, have heard the call, recognized the need, and responded in ways that should make the entire industry proud.

The following companies sponsored the Porn Poker Tournament, which debuted at the Internext Convention in Hollywood, Fla., this summer. The winner of the tournament, who wishes to remain anonymous, donated all winnings to the 2257 Legal Defense Fund on behalf of the sponsors:

Camz.com
SammySmack.com
NetBilling.com
PluginFeeds.com
MrSkinCash.com
Eroticy.com
DatingGold.com
JupiterHosting.com

Another fundraiser was held October 1 and 2 by X-Factor, which had a booth at the Rainbows Festival, a gay and lesbian street festival attended by more than 20,000 in downtown Phoenix.

Without the incredible effort of these companies to expend their time and resources on behalf of the 2257 legal challenge brought by the Free Speech Coalition, said FSC Executive Director Michelle L. Freridge.
We simply would not be able to as effectively challenge the federal government in its campaign to impose unfair, unconstitutional and punitive regulations. We are humbled by these endeavors, and by the continuing interest of companies like these to help us drive home the message that this industry will not go down without a fight.

 

20th October

  Explicit Nutter Tax

Based on an article from Kansas.com

The battle over sexually explicit entertainment, already well under way in Wichita, appears headed for the state Capitol in the coming months.

Pornography opponents took their case Tuesday to a legislative panel, urging that lawmakers tax sales of explicit materials. The tax committee will decide next month whether to recommend a tax to the full Legislature, which convenes in January.

A lawyer representing three Wichita video stores, however, warned that the tax likely would not survive a legal challenge alleging violation of the constitutional right to free speech and equal protection under the law.

The 10 percent sales tax is being pushed as a grand jury in Wichita is examining whether porn shops violate the community's obscenity standards.

And Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans is promoting changes in zoning ordinances to force the shops to move elsewhere.

Rep. nutter Shari Weber, a Herington Republican, said a tax is justified because of a connection between pornography and sex crimes. Those crimes cost the state money to investigate and prosecute offenders, keep them in prison, rehabilitate them and monitor them when they are discharged, she said: The state has a compelling interest to place an excise tax on these businesses because of their adverse effects on the health, well-being and safety of the citizens in our state.

The Kansas Department of Revenue estimates that a 10 percent tax would generate $1 million a year. Phillip Cosby, an anti-porn activist from Abilene, said the tax should be levied on the materials wherever they are sold, not just those businesses that clearly identify themselves as adult shops.

John Ivan, a suburban Kansas City lawyer representing the three After Dark video stores in Wichita, said any porn tax that did not include all outlets, including the Internet and convenience stores, would run afoul of U.S. Supreme Court rulings in tax cases. He also argued that numerous studies have failed to establish that viewing pornography leads to sex crimes.

 

19th October

  Record Keeping Legislation to Censor Hollywood Love Scenes

From Reuters

Tucked deep inside a massive bill designed to track sex offenders and prevent children from being victimized by sex crimes is language that could put many Hollywood movies in the same category as hard-core, X-rated films.

The provision added to the Children's Safety Act of 2005 would require any film, TV show or digital image that contains a sex scene to come under the same government filing requirements that adult films must meet.

Currently, any filmed sexual activity requires an affidavit that lists the names and ages of the actors who engage in the act. The film is required to have a video label that claims compliance with the law and lists where the custodian of the records can be found. The record-keeping requirement is known as Section 2257, for its citation in federal law. Violators could spend five years in jail.

Under the provision inserted into the Children's Safety Act, the definition of sexual activity is expanded to include simulated sex acts like those that appear in many movies and TV shows.

It's a significant and unprecedented expansion of the scope of the law, one industry executive said. I don't think the studios would like being grouped in with the hard-core porn industry.

The provision, written by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., could have ramifications beyond simply requiring someone to ensure that the names and ages of actors who partake in pretend lovemaking as compliance with Section 2257 in effect defines a movie or TV show as a pornographic work under federal law. Industry sources say the provision was included in the bill at the behest of the Justice Department. Calls to Pence's office and the Justice Department went unreturned Tuesday.

On Pence's Web site, the congressman contends that the provision is meant to crack down on so-called 'home pornographers' that use downloading on the Internet and digital and Polaroid photography to essentially create an at-home cottage industry for child pornography.

Industry officials contend that the way the provision is written, a sex scene could trigger the provision even if the actors were clothed. While the language is designed to capture "lascivious exhibition of the genitals," other legal decisions have said that "lascivious exhibition" could occur when the genitals are covered.

The bill, with the Section 2257 provision included, already has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and is waiting consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Industry executives worry that the provision, which is retroactive to 1995, will have a chilling effect on filmmakers. Faced with the choice of filing a 2257 certificate or editing out a scene, a filmmaker might decide it's not worth getting entangled with the federal government and let the scene fall to the cutting-room floor, the executives said.

From the creative side of the street, there's concern that the government of federal law enforcement would get involved in what you were doing, one industry source said.
At some point, people would be faced with the decision: 'Do I include the scene and register a 2257 or leave it out?'

 

18th October

  Pandering to Texas Nutters

From AVN

Another attempt by Texas lawmakers to brand an adult clerk with a charge of illegally pandering obscenity has been thwarted, according to Houston news sources.

Jose Escalante, a worker at the Adult Video Megaplex, was found not guilty Wednesday of possessing adult toys with the intent to promote and sell them. Escalante was arrested June 9 during a raid on the store, and faced a $4,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

He's simply a clerk at the store, Escalante's attorney, Richard Kuniansky, said, and the vice squad went in a arrested a clerk for possession with intent to distribute obscene devices. It's aburd.

Prosecutors said that anyone caught in possession of six or more adult toys deemed obscene by the law is presumed to be promoting them, and claimed that Escalante was a store manager, not just a clerk as he said, and therefore was in possession of all the products being sold in the store.

An officer who testified Tuesday defined an adult toy as obscene if it is in a package advertising that it is designed to be used in a sexual act. Many of the toys not seized during the raid are advertised as massagers.

Said Kuniansky,
These devices are for sale all over town, at passion parties, and some of the establishments do put on the devices that it is intended for novelty only. In my opinion, that means nothing.

 

15th October

  Airbrushed Survey

I wonder what happened to the important questions such as whether people, enjoy it, get off on it or buy it?

From AVN

How does the public feel on pornography? What should be done about it? Opinions may vary, but basically men like it and women don’t, according to a recent Harris Poll.

These are the results of a survey of 2,555 U.S. adults conducted online between September 20 and 26, 2004. Among the more interesting findings of this research are:

About half of all adults believe that pornography "raises men’s expectation of how women should look" (51%) and that it "changes men’s expectations of how women should behave" (48%). However, women are much more likely than men to believe these (62% vs. 40% and 58% vs. 37%, respectively).

Two out of five adults (40%) believe that pornography "harms relationships between men and women" with this view also held by a higher percentage of women" (47%) than men (33%).

Almost half of all adults (48%) believe that "pornography is demeaning towards women" but this view is more widely held by women (57%) than by men (38%).

There is no consensus on the impact of pornography on children but most people, including both men and women, think the effects are mainly negative. When asked which one phrase best describes their beliefs about the impact of pornography on "children who see a lot of it," 30 percent of adults say "it distorts boys’ expectation and understanding of women and sex," 25 percent say "it makes kids more likely to have sex earlier" and another seven percent say "it distorts girls’ body images and ideas about sex." Very few people say that "it helps kids better understand sexuality" (2%).

 

14th October

  Fending Off Nutters

Based on an article from Internet News

With indecency complaints from nutters soaring, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is launching a new site to educate the public about laws governing the public airing of obscene, indecent and profane material.

The FCC receives hundreds of thousands of complaints each year alleging violation of the restrictions on obscene, indecent, or profane programming. Last year, the FCC fielded more than a million complaints from the public over questionable material broadcast over television and radio.

During the first six months of this year, more than 160,000 complaints hit the FCC, which has administrative responsibility for enforcing the law that governs these types of broadcasts.

The new FCC site explains how to file a complaint and what happens to the complaint once the commission receives it. The site also answers frequently asked questions on a wide range of topics ranging from how a consumer can determine the status of a complaint he or she filed to what makes material obscene, indecent or profane.

The FCC carefully explains that the First Amendment does not protect obscene speech and that public broadcasters are prohibited from airing obscene programming at any time. The rub, of course, is defining obscene speech.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, obscene material meets the following criteria: (1) an average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest (i.e. material having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts); (2) the material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and (3) the material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The Supreme Court has indicated that this test is designed to cover hard-core pornography.

Indecent material, on the other hand, is sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity. For this reason, the courts have held that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned entirely.

Indecent material may, however, be restricted to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience. The FCC has determined, with the approval of the courts, that there is a reasonable risk that children will be in the audience from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The FCC prohibits station licensees from broadcasting indecent material during that time period. The FCC explains that "profane language," a frequent source of FCC complaints, includes those words that are "so highly offensive that their mere utterance in the context presented may, in legal terms, amount to a nuisance."

The FCC warns broadcasters that, depending on the context, it considers the "F-word" and those words (or variants thereof) that are as highly offensive as the "F-word" to be "profane language" that cannot be broadcast between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

 

13th October

  Computer Games Terminated

Based on an article from Games Are Fun

Assembly Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee's video game bill, supported by Common Sense Media, was signed into law on Friday by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bill, California AB 1179, makes it illegal to sell violent video games to minors, a restriction not in law for music, movies, art, or written material that isn't pornographic in nature.

We applaud Governor Schwarzenegger for signing this landmark legislation, said James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. Even though he's a major figure in the entertainment industry, he's a father first. In that role, the Governor understands that ultra-violent and sexually violent media content is harmful to kids' development.

The new law goes into effect January 1, 2006. But we at GAF expect a struggle. The constitutionality of the bill is in question and it's likely that the ESA as well as many of the major video game developers and publishers of the world will fight against it in the public eye and in the courts.

Schwarzenegger wasn't the first to cave into political pressure on video game issues. Similar laws were passed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Common Sense Media continues its absurd rantings about the bill with this statement:
Graphic and sexually-charged media violence needs to be seen for what it is -- a threat as dangerous to our kids as tobacco use or underage drinking. At Common Sense, we believe in sanity, not censorship. And it is eminently sane to change the way violent games are marketed and sold to kids. It's only common sense to keep our kids safe from the proven effects of video violence.

 

12th October

updated 13th October

  Multiple Counts of Perversion of Justice

Based on an article from The Ledger

Chris Wilson, the owner of an amateur porn Web site that stirred international controversy with its pictures allegedly portraying dead Iraqi insurgents, is being prevented from making bail.

Wilson has been held at the Polk County Jail since Friday night. His lawyer said Polk authorities piled on charges, 300 misdemeanors and one felony, and that has made it more difficult for Wilson to arrange his release from jail.
I think it's inappropriate. It's an additional, pre-conviction punishment, said Larry Walters, a First Amendment lawyer based in Orlando.

The charges against Wilson all are related to allegedly obscene content on the Web site he operates out of his Lakeland apartment.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said filing so many misdemeanor charges is standard procedure. [yeah yeah].The law is quite clear that each photograph or each video or each image is a count. And certainly, had we gone through his entire Web page, we probably could have made several thousand more charges.

Therein lies the problem for Wilson. Because of the large number of charges, Wilson's family is having a hard time finding a bail bondsman who will write that number of bonds, according to Walters. Also, it makes bailing him out considerably more expensive. Bail for each misdemeanor charge is set at $500 each, and the felony charge is $1,000. His total bail is $151,000.

Normally, a defendant can post one bail for 10 percent of the total amount -- about $15,000 in Wilson's case. But state law requires that the minimum bail paid by a defendant for each charge be set at no less then $100, according to Bartow bail bondsman Bill Kidwell.

Between the misdemeanors and the felony charge, Kidwell said, Wilson's family would have to pay $30,100 to get him out, money that the bail bondsman does not repay the family. They would also have to pledge collateral to cover the entire $151,000, which would be forfeited if Wilson did not show up for trial.

Walters said Wilson's family had asked the State Attorney's Office in Bartow to combine all the counts into one charge for the purposes of the bail, but the State Attorney's Office refused.

Chip Thullbery, administrative assistant state attorney, acknowledged that. We felt the original charges as filed were appropriate. Certainly, it was not done for harassment. It was done because he possessed that amount of material. [yeah yeah]

According to Walters, Wilson's family is continuing to try to post bail. Walters has set up a section on his Web site, www.firstamendment.com where people can send in donations to assist Wilson.

Walters said Monday that he had gotten dozens of e-mails and hundreds of telephone calls from around the country from people offering their support of Wilson and expressing outrage that he was arrested in the first place.

Luke Lirot, a well-known First Amendment lawyer fromTampa who has represented clients on obscenity charges in Polk County, said that filing numerous charges against a defendant has been a typical tactic for Assistant State Attorney Brad Copley. Brad Copley's chosen method of persecution is to heap on as many charges as possible, to increase the expense of mounting a defense, Lirot said.

Lirot said Polk County's aggressive approach to prosecuting materials viewed as obscene is inconsistent with virtually every area in the United States and most of the decisions coming from the Supreme Court. There's a huge void of First Amendment rights between Tampa and Orlando.

Wilson's Internet business initially began as a Web site where people could send in pictures of their wives or girlfriends engaged in sexual activity. He stirred international controversy because of his practice of allowing military personnel serving overseas free access to his site in exchange for pictures proving they really were serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For the past seven or eight months, Wilson has been posting pictures that show burned and mutilated bodies, allegedly of Iraqi and Afghan insurgents. The Army investigated, but could not confirm whether military personnel really were posting those images.

Update 13th October:

Chris Wilson, the operator of a controversial porn Web site, was released from the Polk County Jail after his parents put up $30,100 to arrange his bail.

His lawyer, Lawrence Walters of Orlando, said Wilson's parents arranged their son's release Monday but he wasn't let out of jail until Tuesday afternoon because it took so long to process the 301 bonds -- one for each of the 300 misdemeanor counts and one felony count filed against Wilson.

A Sheriff's Office employee at the jail said that it took all day to process the 301 bonds.

Wilson's bail had been set at a total of $151,000 for the charges. His parents made arrangements with a bail bond agency to put up the bail and paid the agency a fee of $30,100.

The family had struggled to make bail over the weekend, because Wilson was charged with so many individual obscenity counts.

 

12th October

  Proof is a Burden on Justice

From Star Tribune

In large, bold type, a newspaper ad announced that a child pornography law had been found unconstitutional. Do not let your clients plead guilty, read the ad, placed by attorney Jeff Dean.

Dean's ad was prompted by the case of a client, Donald D. Schoen of Minneapolis, who had been charged in May with six counts of possessing child pornography. Dean argued in court that because the law requires judges to consider whether the evidence supports the allegation that the subject of the pornography is a minor, defendants are deprived of their right to a jury trial. On Sept. 13, Hennepin County District Judge Stephen Swanson agreed with Dean that the statute under which Schoen had been charged was unconstitutional. The judge dismissed the charges.

Dean said Tuesday the judge found that the statute unconstitutionally shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution, which ordinarily must prove that the subject is a child, to the defense, which was forced to prove that the age of a subject is a disputed issue. Swanson's order said that the statute left it to the trial judge to decide if sufficient evidence of age was produced. That results in a defendant being denied his or her constitutional right to let a jury decide whether or not a crime has been committed.

I believe child pornography is disgusting, Dean said, but all people charged with a crime have the right to be innocent until proven guilty.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Paul Scoggin said that proving whether a person is a minor is not an issue in most cases because it's obvious that the subjects are children.

Minneapolis defense attorney Peter Wold called Swanson's decision to strike down the statute a good one. It's a violation of the right to a fair trial when the defendant has to prove something. This was a courageous decision by Swanson.

Wold said he thinks the underlying law is bad and that the Legislature should repeal it. Moreover, he said he thought Dean's ad was a good way to let lawyers know about the ruling since attorneys aren't often immediately aware of trial court decisions.

 

10th October

  The Corpse of American Freedom

From YNot

The Polk Country Sheriff’s Office raided the home of Chris Wilson in Lakeland, Florida, and charged him with 301 counts of obscenity. Wilson was arrested, and his bail was set at $151,000.

Wilson’s amateur porn website www.nowthatsfuckedup.com which accepts and posts user-submitted pictures, made national news recently over its policy of granting free access to any American military personnel stationed in Iraq provided that they submit proof that they are serving overseas. Many of the soldiers submitted pictures of dead Iraqis, which were subsequently posted on the website, which in turn caused an investigation by the United States Army.

Wilson is charged with one count of wholesale distribution of obscene material and 300 misdemeanor counts related to 20 online films and 80 photographs obtained from his website. The obscenity charges all relate to pornographic images, however, and do not relate to the images of the dead Iraqis. YNOT has not yet been able to determine the exact nature of the images, or why the Polk Country Sheriff’s Office believes that they are obscene.

In terms of the announced obscenity charges against Wilson, the Polk Country authorities are triple-dipping. For each video and photograph in question, Wilson is being charged three times – once with distribution of obscene material, once with offering to distribute obscene material, and once with possession of obscene material with intent to distribute.

The investigation into this matter is ongoing, and we will share any pertinent information with the US Army Criminal Investigations Division, said Polk Country Sheriff Grady Judd in a press release. In my 33 years of law enforcement experience, this is one of the most horrific examples of filthy, obscene materials we have ever seized.

The press release also indicated that the Sheriff’s office was searching Wilson’s residence for a customer list, leading to speculation that the raid could be intended to provide the US Army with information as to which soldiers had sent pictures to Wilson in exchange for membership.

 

9th October

  Stories of Freedoms Long Since Lost

From XBiz

Online erotic stories host Red Rose Stories announced on its site Friday that the FBI had forced it to shut down. According to a posting on the site’s main page, Red Rose Stories is facing obscenity charges for posting stories that allegedly involved bestiality, water sports, scat, bondage and domination, S&M, slavery, threesomes, orgies and sex with children.

According to Rosie, who runs the site, such topics have opened the door to her prosecution.

Trust me on this. I found out the hard way. I never thought I'd be in trouble for the written word, Rosie told XBiz via email: I had no pictures of a sexual nature on my site, adult or otherwise. [It seems] the only legal sex stories are those that involve a man and a woman consenting to missionary position sex in a dark room.

Rosie said officials came to her house when she was not home and seized a number of items. The men in black took all of my computer equipment and many of my diskettes, and have access to all my files and site information. I am sorry to inform all interested parties that Red Rose Stories is a dead site.

Rosie said that chat services on the site, as well as some parts to its forum, would remain open, and suggested subscribers contact the Pittsburgh FBI office if they “want to ask the feds for a refund.”

 

8th October

  Seattle Prudes

From New York Newsday

Seattle City Council recently approved some of the strictest adult-entertainment regulations of any major city in the country, voting 5 to 4 to require that dancers stay 4 feet from patrons.

That means no lap dances and no folding dollar bills into G-strings. In addition, the clubs must maintain at least parking-garage brightness throughout the premises and can have no private rooms. Dancers will no longer be allowed to take money directly from customers; instead, customers will put the money in a tip jar.

For the most part, the attraction's gone, said Gil Levy, a lawyer for Rick's adult nightclub in Seattle: It will make the clubs less fun.

The legislation was requested by Mayor Greg Nickels. The mayor's office said the restrictions were needed  supposedly to prevent a rash of cabarets from opening after a federal judge struck down the city's 17-year moratorium on new strip clubs.

Technically, Seattle already had a ban on dancers and patrons "touching" in clubs. But officials and police said that the rule was ignored and that dancers routinely gave lap dances.

Several officers submitted testimony about witnessing acts of prostitution or near-prostitution in the clubs, but said that because the clubs were dark, it was sometimes hard to prove the no-touching rule was being violated without buying a lap dance.

Those who opposed the rules suggested a better way to regulate strip clubs would be through zoning, to keep them away from schools, churches and homes. Seattle has no zoning rules governing adult entertainment.  Furthermore, they said, the rules are unbecoming of a city that prides itself on being liberal and tolerant.

And a classic "I'm not a prude...BUT...": Without being prudes, we can be prudent, said Councilman Nick Licata.

 

6th October   Hardcore Raid

From AVN

Max Hardcore’s studio, Max World Entertainment, was raided today by FBI agents searching for five titles being investigated for obscenity by the Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice.

The titles under investigation are Pure Max 16: Euro Version, Max Hardcore Fists of Fury 3, Max Hardcore Extreme Schoolgirls 6: Euro Version, Max Hardcore Golden Guzzlers 5 and Max Hardcore Golden Guzzlers 6.

Hardcore is currently in Barcelona, Spain, Max World attorney Jeffrey Douglas told AVN.com. Douglas relayed the following statement from Hardcore:

Once again, the government is wasting tax dollars and otherwise invaluable law enforcement resources to try to force a minority view of morality on all of America. Five movies have been targeted by the Federal Prude Patrol. There is no indication of any crime to be alleged except obscenity. If indicted, I will fight to protect my liberty, as well as the liberty of consenting adults to watch other adults engage in lawful, consensual, pleasurable sexual action. Shame on the Bush Department of Justice. I am proud of the movies I make and proud of those who buy and sell those movies.

 

2nd October   Persecutors Mauled in the Lion's Den

From AVN

In a stunning victory for adults' sexual rights, a Kansas District Court judge on Sept. 7 dismissed a 10-count indictment charging violations of the state Obscene Devices Act against the Lion's Den adult store here.

We filed extensive motions to dismiss, motions to suppress evidence on search and seizure grounds, and challenging the constitutionality of the statute as a basis for dismissal and other grounds, said J. Michael Murray, attorney for the Lion's Den store in Abilene. All those motions were briefed, and the court held a hearing on Sept. 7. We argued those motions, and at the conclusion of the hearing, the judge granted our motion to dismiss, predicated on one of the attacks that we had mounted on the constitutionality of the statute, and so the prosecution has been dismissed.

The Lion's Den case had its beginnings more than a year ago, after a Dickinson County grand jury, which was empaneled through a petition circulated by religious censorship group Citizens For Strengthening Community Virtues, returned a 29-count indictment charging violations of the Obscene Devices Act.

"The citizens who were protesting the store, led by Philip Cosby, complained to the sheriff about the Lion's Den purportedly engaging in dissemination of obscene materials, Murray said. So the sheriff went to the store with Mr. Cosby; he picked out materials that he felt were obscene, and then the county bought them for something over $1,000 as I recall, and later they got a search warrant and then seized some other materials a few months later. So there was a purchase and a seizure, and it was by those two methods that the evidence was acquired."

The new county prosecutor, Keith Hoffman, filed an information, which is another method by which a criminal case can be commenced in Kansas without the need for a grand jury, charging 10 violations of the device act, and it was those charges that were dismissed on Sept. 7.

In his ruling, Kansas Senior Judge Robert Innes noted that the state Supreme Court had ruled in 1990, in the case of State v. Hughes, that state law forbids the legislature from declaring a device obscene solely on the basis that it relates to human sexuality, and the language used in the statute equates a nonprurient interest in sex with obscenity. A later change in the law retained the language rejected in the Hughes case, which led Judge Innes to rule against the statute once again.

The case still is not completely over, since the state has a right to appeal, which time won't begin to run until Judge Robert Innes issues his final order in the case. At press time, that final order had not yet been issued.

 

1st October   FBI to get veto power over PC software?

From CNET News

The Federal Communications Commission thinks you have the right to use software on your computer only if the FBI approves.

No, really. In an obscure "policy" document released around 9 p.m. ET last Friday, the FCC announced this remarkable decision.

According to the three-page document, to preserve the openness that characterizes today's Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement. Read the last seven words again.

The FCC didn't offer much in the way of clarification. But the clearest reading of the pronouncement is that some unelected bureaucrats at the commission have decreed that Americans don't have the right to use software such as Skype or PGPfone if it doesn't support mandatory backdoors for wiretapping. (That interpretation was confirmed by an FCC spokesman on Monday, who asked not to be identified by name. Also, the announcement came at the same time as the FCC posted its wiretapping rules for Internet telephony.)

Nowhere does the commission say how it jibes this official pronouncement with, say, the First Amendment's right to speak freely, not to mention the limited powers granted the federal government by the U.S. Constitution.

What's also worth noting is that the FCC's pronunciamento almost tracks the language of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Almost.

But where federal law states that it is the policy of the United States to preserve a free market for Internet services "unfettered by federal or state regulation," the bureaucrats have adroitly interpreted that to mean precisely the opposite of Congress said. Ain't that clever?

 

1st October   Oregon Rules Supreme

Based on an article from Statesman Journal

The Oregon Supreme Court, in two significant decisions recently struck down a state law banning live sex shows and a city ordinance regulating nude dancers.

A majority of justices said that both violated the state constitutional guarantee of free expression, which the court has interpreted as one of the broadest in the nation. The court has maintained for nearly a quarter of a century that most such regulations, including obscenity, are unconstitutional.

Stephen Green, a law professor at Willamette University, said Thursday's decisions go beyond whether strip clubs can offer lap dances or live sex shows to paying adult customers and whether government can regulate or ban them. When it comes to individual rights, the Oregon Supreme Court does not do a balancing test; we say the right of free expression is absolute, Green said.

Examples of exceptions are protection of minors -- the court ruled in 1996 that child pornography is not covered by the guarantee -- and restrictions on the time, place and manner of activities to shield unwilling viewers, captive audiences and neighbors.

The Oregon Constitution, which dates to 1857, says: No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.

Justice Michael Gillette, who wrote for the majority in both cases, said there is no historical exception under the protection of free expression that allows either the state law or city ordinance to stand. He wrote: Thus, it appears to us to be beyond reasonable dispute that the protection extends to the kinds of expression that a majority of citizens in many communities would dislike -- profanity, blasphemy, pornography -- and even to physical acts, such as nude dancing or other explicit sexual conduct, that have an expressive component."

The votes were 5-1 in both cases. One justice did not take part.

These decisions continue to protect the right of Oregon families to decide for themselves what they want to read, see and hear, said Andrea Meyer, legislative director and counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, which has opposed broad restrictions.

One case involved the 1999 criminal convictions of Charles Robert Ciancanelli, the owner of a now-closed Roseburg club, for promoting unlawful sexual conduct in a public show. Undercover police officers attended two private shows in a small room at Angels, where women kissed, touched one another, engaged in sexual conduct and touched the officers.

The court upheld Ciancanelli's separate conviction for promoting prostitution. He was in the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario.

Lawyers for the Oregon Department of Justice asked the court not only to uphold the state law but to reconsider its broad interpretation of free expression. They lost. The state appreciates the court's analysis of the breadth of Oregon's free-expression clause, said Kevin Neely, a spokesman for Attorney General Hardy Myers. However, we believe the framers of the Oregon Constitution intended to permit regulation of public sexual conduct.

Charles Hinkle, a Portland lawyer said: The court signaled in these decisions that it takes very literally the language of the Oregon Constitution. It will be a very high burden from now on for anyone to try to persuade a court that the free-expression guarantee does not mean what it says.

But Hinkle said the decision in the Roseburg case could open the way for more prosecutions based on the anti-prostitution law. He said it may curb not only live-sex shows but also films and photographs of sexual acts. The proponents of censorship did win a significant victory, he said. Mr. Ciancanelli's conviction was affirmed. The decision may have been good for lawyers, but it did not do Mr. Ciancanelli any good.

The other case involved a 2000 incident in which two managers of a now-closed club in the Eastern Oregon town of Nyssa were fined $185 each for violating a 1998 ordinance that required nude dancers to perform at least 4 feet from patrons. The city later extended the distance.

Religious nutters, neighborhood groups and local officials have complained that the court's recent rulings have spurred the growth of the sex industry in Oregon. Barrera said the state's largest city should be called "porn-land." But voters rejected ballot measures in 1994, 1996 and 2000 to restrict the state's free-expression guarantee, most recently to allow zoning of sex shops.

 

30th September   Obscene Prioritisation

From AVN

According

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recently said that law enforcement must learn to out-smart criminals bent on using the Internet to perpetrate crime, including obscenity.

After the announcement that the FBI had begun forming an anti-obscenity task force to crack down on illegal porn operations, some media reports indicated that some FBI agents were not thrilled with the move.

Gonzales countered that by explaining the reasoning behind FBI involvement and referring to a long history of Congress pushing for prosecution of obscenity cases.

They've made the decision that dollars should be spent to fight obscenity, Gonzales told the Miami Herald. When they appropriate money in order for the department to fight crime, we have an obligation to do that. And that's what we're doing here.

People get the idea that somehow the department with all of its talent can't do more than one thing at a time. In fact, we can fight the war on terror, and at the same time, we can go after corruption, we can go after corporate fraud, we can go after drugs, we can go after violent gun crimes and we can go after obscenity.

 

25th September   Extreme Censorship

Is it a coincidence that both the UK and US have decided to 'do something about extreme porn'?

From AVN

According to a story in the Washington Post, the FBI's Washington Field Office, at the urging of the Attorney General's office, began recruiting in late July for a new "anti-obscenity squad" that will allegedly target bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior.

They're going to look for cases like Extreme Associates, the rape and the fisting and all that kind of stuff, summarized attorney Paul Cambria.

But given the squad's stated objective, what are the chances it could accomplish what it wants? It wouldn't hurt the real target, the mainstream adult industry, Cambria opined, because it would just be a bunch of garage people they'd be arresting; you know, people shooting in their backyard garage, putting this stuff out. If they're really interested in the major companies, which they say they are, none of them produce this kind of material, so they're either going to have to expand their horizons or be happy knocking out a bunch of inconsequential operators.

That contradiction isn't lost on the FBI agents themselves. According to anonymous sources within the Bureau who talked to Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, joining the squad would not be considered a career enhancement.

Those assessments jibed with attorney Clyde DeWitt's experiences when he was a prosecutor in Texas: A Justice Department attorney who I knew some years back and who was involved in high-level drug cases in Washington during the '80s, indicated to me that the obscenity unit was the laughing stock of the whole department. Apparently that hasn't changed. Imagine a young FBI recruit, tackling the obstacle course at Quantico and thinking, 'After I have conquered all of the great challenges here, I too will be qualified to spend endless hours sleuthing for images of 'bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior'.

 

24th September   Customarily Bizarre

From Reuters

Inspectors for U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Logan International Airport say they are trying to keep bizarre pornography out of the state.

Our main focus is on terrorism, Ted Woo, spokesman for the CBP's Boston office, told the Boston Herald, but this is something our agents are definitely on the lookout for. If it's so-called normal pornography, it's not going to be an issue, especially if it's for personal use.

The confiscated material is sent to U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan's office, where it is ultimately destroyed unless someone is willing to fight for the sordid contraband in court.

Sullivan's spokeswoman Samantha Martin said no one caught with porn involving consenting adults has been prosecuted in recent memory. Virtually any material exploiting children, however, is expressly illegal.

The Washington Post reported this week FBI headquarters has put out a call to agents to join a new national anti-obscenity squad targeting the manufacturers and purveyors of porn.

 

21st September   The War On Obscenity

Perhaps the will destroy their own country as effectively as they have destroyed Iraq

From Monsters & Critics

The Bush administration reportedly is getting help from the FBI in its war on porn, a campaign that has also become the subject of mischievous humor.

Early last month, the FBI`s Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad, reports The Washington Post. The initiative has been designated as one of the top priorities of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, says the Post.

I guess this means we`ve won the war on terror, one exasperated FBI agent told the newspaper. We must not need any more resources for espionage.

The squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against 'manufacturers and purveyors' of pornography directed at consenting adults.

The effort comes at a time when popular acceptance of hard-core pornography has come a long way, says the report.

The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation`s top priority remains fighting the war on terrorism, said Justice Department`s Brian Roehrkasse.
However, it is not our sole priority. In fact, Congress has directed the department to focus on other priorities, such as obscenity.

 

19th Sept   Violent Gameography

From Tom's Hardware Guide

California lawmakers approved Assembly Bill 1179, which prohibits 'extremely violent' video games from being sold to minors and requires large labels to be affixed to retail boxes. Violators can be hit with up to $1000 in fines, per infraction. The bill now heads to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk and he has 30 days to either sign or veto the bill.

AB1179, formerly known as AB450, was sponsored by Speaker pro Tem Dr. Leland Yee (Democrat) and passed by a 65 to 7 vote. The bill will hit retailers with up to a $1000 fine if they willingly sell violent games to minors. In addition, AB1179 requires a two inch by two inch label with a white 18 (outlined in black) to be affixed to the retail boxes of those games. Interestingly, only the retailer will be fined, and not the sales clerk. Also, if the manufacturer forgets to label the box, the store will not be fined.

In AB1179, violent games are games where the player has an option of killing, maiming,
dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being in a 'shockingly atrocious manner', but it is unclear who will determine what content will fit that definition. Yee, who is also a Child Psychologist, believes that violent games can have a dramatic and detrimental effect on children and his bill has the backing of child advocacy groups, like Common Sense Media.

Adam J. Keigwin, spokesperson for Leland Yee, also does not think the bill encourages censorship. We are not asking them to be less violent. They have a first amendment right to make or produce what they want, but we just want them to sell to adults, says Keigwin. Keigwin also thinks that the current ESRB rating system 'doesn't have any teeth' and that Mature-rated games are routinely sold to children.

 

18th Sept   Vague Obscenity Legislation Under Fire

From AVN

Every battle is won in stages, and in every stage are dates that stand out as seminal moments in the tide of victory or defeat.  Oct. 3, 2005, may become a date that will live in infamy in the obscenity wars, because on that date a Louisiana jurist is expected to render a decision about the constitutionality of the state’s obscenity statute.

Until recently, no one outside this small Louisiana community considered it a hotbed of political controversy. That changed when the local district attorney charged two video-store owners with promoting obscenity.

The case, in which defense attorneys are challenging the very core of Louisiana’s applicable law, could have profound effects on obscenity laws nationwide.

Because it specifically attempts to regulate electronic communication, the law is … written so broadly that anything on the Net would be subject to Louisiana law, and Louisiana is not allowed to regulate interstate commerce, says Chicago First Amendment attorney J.D. Obenberger, one of the representatives for the defense. That’s a constitutional responsibility of the federal government. I’m using the improper effects of the statute on the Internet to get the whole statute thrown out.”

Judge Charles Porter is expected to announce his decision about the constitutional challenge Oct. 3. Whether he sides with the defense or the prosecution on the matter, all parties in the case, including the judge, agreed in advance that the case will be certified as a constitutionally important question of first impression, Obenberger says, and the decision will be appealed to the state Supreme Court or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Until a higher court has ruled on the constitutional issues, the obscenity prosecution will not proceed.

If the higher court sides with the defense, obscenity statutes in 45 other states will be in jeopardy due to similar construction. If we win in Louisiana, I don’t think anyone else is going to try [pressing an obscenity case] anywhere again, Obenberger says. If the Louisiana law falls, then all the other state laws fall like a house of cards.

In addition to challenging the vagueness and reach of the statute, Obenberger associate Reed Lee, who is acting as co-counsel, is challenging the law on the basis that it infringes individual privacy rights.

People do have the right to receive these materials in their homes, and a law such as this one, when it extends to consenting adults, goes beyond what’s constitutionally permissible, Obenberger says.

That argument may prove to be extremely compelling in this case, Obenberger notes. Lee submitted the same position in an amicus curae brief to the appellate court in the Extreme Associates case, and has since received an inquiry from the court asking if he will be available to present oral arguments to support his point when the court considers the matter.

Louisiana can’t control what everyone in the country gets to see and exert a heckler’s veto because someone in a community in your state may get offended by this. Everyone will get scared, and that will affect what goes on in [Los Angeles] and New York, Obenberger says.
It’s going to chill free expression in Louisiana and that’s bad enough, but they’re going to chill free expression in areas of the country that maybe aren’t as conservative as this area of the country is.

 

16th Sept   Unconstitutional Censorship Continues in Ontario

From Eye Weekly

Despite all the happy Liberal talk of liberalization, the Ontario government will continue to view and screen every film, video, cartoon and video game in the province before they can be legally sold or seen by the public.

The new "Film Classification Act of 2005" came into effect on Aug. 31, and not only does the act not abandon film censorship in Ontario, as politicians said it would, it effectively expands it.

George Orwell would be impressed, says Toshiya Kuwabara, the outgoing manager of the tiny gay and lesbian Glad Day Bookstore, which fought in court to rein in the powers of the Ontario Film Review Board (OFRB). The Liberals are doing the opposite of what they say they are doing and are delighting as the public eats it up, he says.

In fact, the practice of screening and censoring films by the provincially run OFRB was declared unconstitutional and illegal by an Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling in early 2004. The court ordered the government to give up its authority to censor and ban films it didn't like within a year.

The McGuinty government did not appeal the decision and said they would comply. However, when the new legislation materialized late, it not only kept the powers of the province to screen and approve films, it expanded their authority further to include material previously not subject to prior approval by agents of the state.

The new act looks shockingly like the old act, says Noa Mendelsohn Aviv of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association's freedom of expression project. She says the constitution is supposed to be the supreme law of the land and the courts have said censorship is illegal under our constitution. If the government can simply ignore the courts and the constitution when they please, what does that say for their respect for the rule of law in this country?

OFRB spokesperson Jason Okamura sees it differently. When asked to respond to the concerns of critics, Okamura simply read the same prepared statement he read to this reporter in the spring when the legislation was introduced as a draft. The Act, he said, "responds" to the court ruling by "narrowing" the focus of censorship.

Alan Borovoy, lawyer for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, has called this interpretation of the court's direction peculiar, saying: The court didn't say to narrow censorship, it said to abandon it.

Freedom of expression advocates say the fight isn't over yet. John Tatulis, the owner of VXI Multimedia and a member of the group Responsible Ontario Adult Retailers (ROAR) says his group will continue its fight to keep the province out of their stores. One of our members just won a court decision giving him the right to sue the government as well as specific government employees for the damages they have caused to his business in their attempts to shut him down through censorship and seizures.

He realizes they are fighting an uphill battle. But we're not giving up -- we will hold them accountable, he says.

 

16th Sept   Child Protection Exploited to Repress Adults

From AVN

In an attempt to exert control over the sexual practices of American citizens under the guise of protecting children, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) introduced bill H.R. 3726 this week, also called The Child Pornography Protection Act of 2005.

Among other provisions, the bill targets adult citizens who record visual images of consensual sexual activity in the privacy of their own homes, adds nudity and clothed images of pubic areas to the definition of “explicit sexual activity” as defined in U.S.C. 18 §2256, and criminalizes the production and distribution of R-rated mainstream motion pictures that fail to comply with the record creation and notice provisions of 2257, and possibly for violation of obscenity laws.

The stated intent of H.R. 3726 is to crack down on what Pence refers to as “home pornographers,” defined as people who create child pornography using their home computers. A close reading of the bill, however, reveals far more ambitious legislative objectives, including altering the federal labeling and record keeping law (U.S.C. 18 §2257) to include simulated, written and illustrated content, which directly implicates many if not most Hollywood films, expanding the reach of federal forfeiture laws to include 2257 violations and obscenity convictions, and enhancing administrative subpoena power to cover obscenity cases, making it easier for the government to compel a person to appearance or to obtain records in a legal proceeding without having to demonstrate probable cause before a judge.

 

15th Sept   Games Censors with Easter Egg on their Face

Surely games can be sold such that allow for unlimited modification via Internet download. There must surely be a recognition that when modified via the Internet the original rating may change. All it needs is a little advice on the download page.

From The Register

US games software watchdog the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has told games publishers they must reveal any hidden content included in all the software they have released since 1 September 2004.

The order was sent by email, a copy of which was leaked to games-oriented website Gamasutra this week. In the email, the ESRB expressed its concern that hidden content subsequently exposed by games modifications could undermine the ratings system. Since the ESRB is run by the games industry itself, it undoubtedly fears that any loss of faith in its ratings could lead to a potentially harsher, government-mandated certification system.

To counter that threat, the ESRB told all publishers and developers they must formally detail any hidden material which the organisation has not already been notified about. If you fail to notify us of previously undisclosed, non-playable, pertinent content by 9 January 2006, and such content becomes playable through a subsequent authorised or unauthorised release of code to unlock it, rendering the original rating assignment inaccurate, punitive in addition to corrective actions may result, the watchdog warned, without going into details.

Any hidden material reported to the ESRB by that time will be used to consider whether a game should be re-rated. In future, the organisation said, if games companies don't want hidden content to be reflected in a game's rating, they shouldn't include it. The request follows the discovery of adult material in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas earlier this year.

The ESRB's rules have always required games publishers to notify it of hidden content intended to be exposed by special codes or, say, by sending game characters to certain locations. These so-called Easter Eggs are commonplace, but since the adult content in GTA: San Andreas was not included as an Easter Egg, it was not revealed to the ESRB.

GTA: San Andreas is due to return to shops this week after its publisher, Take-Two Interactive, removed the so-called 'Hot Coffee' content in order to get the rating back down to Mature.

 

12th Sept   Uncensored in Censorial New Zealand

From Scoop

Publisher Steve Crow (best known for his popular Erotica Adult Lifestyle Expos) and editor Jonathan Eisen  have teamed up to create New Zealand's newest magazine UNCENSORED.

I think New Zealanders are beginning to realise that much of the information that they get from the mainstream comes with an 'agenda' that involves staying away from or 'spinning' the big issues rather than risk rocking the boat. UNCENSORED is simply about presenting the facts exactly as they are, exposing the naked truth and 'outing' those who seek to corrupt or hide it from us for their own purposes."

Despite Steve Crow's reputation as the founder of Vixen (New Zealand's most successful importer, distributor and producer of adult entertainment products) UNCENSORED magazine will not be publishing porn. Rather, Crow promises readers just the facts, for a change free from contamination by advertising pressures, vested interests and industry or government-sponsored PR spin.

Crow, who will be writing a regular column in UNCENSORED, has had many run-ins with "Wellington bureaucrats" and politicians, and has often taken them to court over censorship issues, winning many of his cases. He points out what he calls the "absurdity" of NZ censorship laws in which he says there is too much subjectivity, Victorian attitudes and double standards.

As an example of the double standards, he cites the fact that hardcore homosexual porn is OK with our censors, while hardcore heterosexual porn apparently is not. He states that perhaps this is a direct reflection of the personal attitudes of the Chief and Deputy Chief Censors, both of whom are gay.

Another double standard, Crow says, is that the Censors are far more tolerant of violence, rape and murder, often with a little bit of (non-explicit) sex thrown in for good measure, than they are of explicit sex, especially if there is even the slightest hint of coercion or violence. It seems to be acceptable to our Censors to flood us with media depicting violence, no matter how extreme as long as, God forbid, we don’t show people having sex.

After the idea of outlawing "hate speech" arose last year, Crow decided that the issue of censorship went much farther than the restrictions imposed on adult entertainment; and UNCENSORED, his latest project, reflects his concerns that many forms of censorship in New Zealand are widespread.

It's no accident that September 11 is the date chosen for the launch of UNCENSORED as the hidden facts regarding the real perpetrators of the tragedy of 9/11 are featured in the first issue of the magazine.

UNCENSORED magazine is distributed by Independent Media Distributors Ltd and will be available in booksellers, news dealers and supermarkets throughout the country. It will initially be published quarterly. RRP $9.95 (126 pages, full colour, perfect bound.)

 

6th Sept   Serious about Comic Censorship

From LA Times

The notion persists that all readers are kids, which places more restrictions on what comic book characters can say.

Comics have gained a certain gravitas in recent years: Graphic novels get reviewed alongside conventional books, and universities offer courses on comic book theory. There has been a glut of news stories telling us of comics' newfound maturity. The courts, though, have not adapted so readily.

We still have to deal with prosecutors who will look at a jury and say, 'Come on — comics are for kids. Let's call a spade a spade,'  says Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. It's a stigma, he says, that still causes problems for the industry when it comes to obscenity charges or arguing fair usage in copyright cases. That's why Brownstein's group has earned gratitude — and often financial support — from those in the comics world.

With a three-person staff, the defense fund is run out of a small office on Madison Avenue in New York. They've recently moved operations from Northampton, Mass. The nonprofit organization was founded by comic book artist Dennis Kitchen in 1986, more than 30 years after the industry's first major run-in with the authorities — a Senate hearing on the destructive influence of comics on children. Things didn't go comics' way that day, and a restrictive Comics Code Authority was soon established. Ever since, comics and the law have had a strained relationship.

The field of comics law is littered with weird details. One landmark case involved two villainous half-human, half-worm brothers named Johnny and Edgar Autumn who graced the pages of DC Comics. They happen to look a lot like the musicians Johnny and Edgar Winter. Less than flattered, the Winter brothers sued in 1996 on such grounds as defamation and invasion of privacy.

There's been progress, Tom Batiuk says, but comics still struggle for the same acceptance as books and movies.  The defense fund's efforts are important for an industry with few financial resources, Miller says. Book publishers and movie studios have plenty of resources to fight censorship attempts, but the comics industry mainly consists of artists with day jobs and mom-and-pop stores.

 

27th August   Missouri Anti-Adult Law Stripped Out

From Kansas.com

A Cole County judge on Friday declared a state law that places overly strict new restrictions on strip clubs is unconstitutional.

Circuit Judge Richard Callahan said provisions of the law, which was to go into effect Sunday, violate state constitutional limits on amending a bill beyond its original purpose, and First Amendment protections of nude dancing. The state may not limit persons of majority age from engaging in lawful expressive conduct protected by the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution without a substantial and direct connection to adverse secondary effects, a showing that has not been made, Callahan said in the declaratory judgment.

Under the law, signed in July by Gov. Matt Blunt, seminude lap dances would have been banned and dancers would have had to stay at least 10 feet from each other. A customer would have faced a misdemeanor charge for tucking a dollar bill into a dancer's G-string. The law also would have required all dancers and customers to be at least 21 years old. Current law sets the minimum age for dancers at 19.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit, said similar laws have been upheld in other states. I react to what my constituents have asked for, Bartle said before the ruling. I think smut shops in Missouri are incredibly destructive in people lives.

The adult entertainment industry's attorneys claimed the law violates free-speech and expression rights under the First Amendment. They also argued that it violates state constitutional requirements that bills relate to one subject and remain tied to their original purpose.

The subject of the bill that included the strip club restrictions was passed under the heading of "crime" after it initially was labeled as a bill for alcohol-related traffic offenses.

Bartle gave fellow lawmakers 50 case studies that support his belief that strip clubs decrease surrounding property values and increase crime. He said the new law would reduce those negative effects.

Richard Bryant, an attorney for the industry, said the studies were endorsed by religious groups and called them "bogus." He said a secondary impact study conducted a couple of years ago in Kansas City found that adult businesses did not increase crime or sink property values.

The attorney general's office said it was reviewing Callahan's decision and didn't yet know what actions it might take.

 

26th August   No Indecent Haste

Based on an article from the Hartford Courant

The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation in February to raise the current $32,500 maximum penalty for indecency to $500,000. Similar legislation also passed the House last year, but again it's stalled in the Senate.

Although those who say the big increase would be a censorship tool for the government are heartened, groups fighting indecency on television and radio are frustrated.

This should have happened a long, long time ago, said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, an entertainment industry watchdog group. The House continues to do its job, and the Senate continues not to do its job.

Last year the Senate bill was held up and eventually scuttled by Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, who wanted the legislation to include a requirement that the Federal Communications Commission study violence on television. This year, the issue has been bottled up in the Senate Commerce Committee.

Lanier Swann of Concerned Women for America, said the panel's chairman, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, needs to answer for the reason that he isn't helping move this forward when it's something that the American public would really like to see.

Stevens has not said why two indecency bills pending in his committee have yet to get a hearing. He has advocated stronger indecency rules for broadcasters, and has complained about vulgarity on cable. His aides say he is not ignoring the issue, and is crafting his own legislation.

Opponents of higher fines worry that they would lead to less free expression. What has become clear is this really isn't about protecting kids. This is about changing television,"\ said Jim Dyke, executive director of TV Watch, an advocacy group funded in part by the entertainment industry. A politically active, savvy group of Americans has figured out a way to make TV in their own image. His group helps teach parents about tools they can use to control what kids see on television.

Under FCC rules and federal law, radio stations and over-the-air TV channels cannot air obscene material at any time, and cannot air indecent material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The rules do not apply to cable or satellite broadcasts.

The FCC defines obscene material as describing sexual conduct "in a patently offensive way" and lacking "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value." Material deemed indecent contains references to sex or excretions.

The commission has been quiet about indecency recently, not issuing any fines against broadcasters so far this year. In 2004, the FCC issued a record $7.9 million in fines, including a $550,000 fine against Viacom Inc., which owns CBS, for the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show featuring Jackson.

The National Association of Broadcasters said it would prefer to see the nation's 13,000 radio stations and 1,700 TV stations police themselves. Most people would recognize that broadcast programming is far less explicit in terms of sex and violence than what you routinely find on cable and satellite TV and radio, broadcasters' association spokesman Dennis Wharton said.

One of the bills before Stevens' committee was introduced by Sen. Sam Brownback. It would raise the maximum fine tenfold, to $325,000 an incident. The other bill, introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, would boost the top fine to $500,000. It also would extend indecency rules to cable and satellite, and - for the first time - would allow the government to regulate violence on television.

 

2005   2006   2007   2008   2009   2010   2011   2012   2013   2014   2015   2016   2017  

melonfarmers icon
 

Top

Home

Index

Links

Email
 

UK

World

Media

Info

US
 

Film Cuts

Nutters

Liberty

Cutting Edge

Shopping
 

Sex News

Sex+Shopping

Advertise
 


US

Americas

International

World Campaigns
 

UK

West Europe

Middle East

Africa
 

East Europe

South Asia

Asia Pacific

Australia
 


Adult DVD+VoD

Online Shop Reviews
 

Online Shops

New Releases & Offers
 
Sex Machines
Fucking Machines
Adult DVD Empire
Adult DVD Empire
Simply Adult
30,000+ items in stock
Low prices on DVDs and sex toys
Simply Adult
Hot Movies
Hot Movies