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29th September   Textbook Prosecution

From X Biz

A federal grand jury has returned an indictment for a woman accused of disseminating alleged obscene fictional stories on her website describing the torture and sexual abuse of children.

U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced the charges saying that Karen Fletcher, who uses the pen name “Red Rose,” violated federal obscenity laws despite the fact that no pictures of children were displayed on the site.

Use of the Internet to distribute obscene stories like these not only violates federal law, but also emboldens sex offenders who would target children, Buchanan said.

Buchanan said Fletcher’s site contained free excerpts of stories featuring child sex, murder and torture, with the full-length stories available to users for a fee. Fletcher was charged with one count for each of six stories that involved the kidnapping, torture, sexual molestation and murder of children nine years and younger. Federal agents executed a search warrant at Fletcher’s home in August 2005, seizing her computer. At the time she told authorities that she writes the bulk of the site’s stories, with about 40 other people contributing to the site as well.

According to an FBI search warrant affidavit, Fletcher told authorities that about 29 people had paid $10 per month in membership fees. She also described her work to law enforcement officers as a “fantasy site.”

If convicted, Fletcher faces a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine, but the actual sentence would be dictated by federal sentencing guidelines.

Update: Trial On

3rd October 2007

The case came to the attention of the Department of Justice after a "Suspicious Activity Report" was filed by a representative of PayPal, a secure-payment service Fletcher's website uses.

This is the only report we've seen of PayPal actually making a decision on the legality of a website's content and submitting a report to the government as a result, attorney Larry Walters of Weston said.

A trial date is tentatively set for some time in April of 2008.

 

15th September   Censors Gone Wild

From ASU Web Devil

Girls Gone Wild DVD coverWith her predatory eyes now set on the pornography industry, the inequity of the American legal system continues to make a mockery of the Supreme Court's promise of "equal protection under law."

The U.S. Justice Department's effort to persecute Mantra Films demonstrates the federal government's interest in using law enforcement as yet another tool to serve certain political interests.

Mantra Films, makers of the Girls Gone Wild series, pleaded guilty to the department's charges and has agreed to pay a staggering $2.1 million in fines and "restitution."

The company was charged with failing to maintain proof of age and identification for the performers in its videos.

Mantra Films was also charged with not properly labeling its products, as required by a new federal law.

The charge against Mantra Films is that they did not maintain the proof and identification of each woman who has made an appearance in one of their many adult-themed films dating from 2002 to 2003.

And though the Justice Department parades Mantra Films' guilty plea as a victory against the exploitation of minors, there is not one single shred of evidence or suggestion that anyone under the age of 18 has appeared in any of the films in question.

All that Mantra Films is guilty of is not keeping sufficiently accurate records on some of the women who appeared in their videos three or four years ago.

In a time when the threats posed to children are sensationalized by those seeking to use these "crises" for their own political gain, the disproportionate attention that government investigators spent on easy targets of our cultural decay is disconcerting.

It is no coincidence that the federal government was able to find that the producers of Girls Gone Wild did not dot all of their I's or cross all of their T's. The law has been written so that it is nearly impossible for these companies to be free of all legal technicalities.

What else could explain the charge that the Girls Gone Wild videos were not "properly labeled" - as if the content of such videos is some sort of secret withheld from helpless consumers?

The moral of this story has nothing to do with the "exploitation" of children. The real lesson to be learned from this story is that if the government doesn't like what you're doing, be prepared for over-regulation and to hand over $2.1 million.

Update 11th Oct: Joe Francis, founder and chief executive of the ‘Girls Gone Wild’ company, was fined $500,000 yesterday in Los Angeles. It’s the second hefty fine he’s received this month for violating federal record keeping laws that require him to document the ages of young women that appear in his soft porn videos.

 

14th September   Hands off Video

From AVN

FCC logoKevin Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said he doesn’t think the agency should regulate Google Video, YouTube or other such online video portals.

Martin said during his re-nomination hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee that he doesn’t believe the FCC has the authority to regulate the Internet like it does with on-air broadcasters, though he preferred it did. He added that he felt that legislators should try to make the Internet a “more decent” place
.

 

4th September   Oh Bather, the Bounders have Destroyed the Twin Towers

From Belleville News Democrat

Broadcasters say the hesitancy of some CBS affiliates to air a powerful Sept. 11 documentary next week proves there's been a chilling effect on the First Amendment since federal regulators boosted penalties for television obscenities after Janet Jackson's breast was exposed at a Super Bowl halftime show.

This is example No. 1, said Martin Franks, executive vice president of CBS Corp., of the decision by two dozen CBS affiliates to replace or delay 9/11 - which has already aired twice without controversy - over concerns about some of the language used by the firefighters in it.

We don't think it's appropriate to sanitize the reality of the hell of Sept. 11th, Franks said. It shows the incredible stress that these heroes were under. To sanitize it in some way robs it of the horror they faced.

Carter G. Phillips, a lawyer for Fox Television Stations Inc., cited the decision by several CBS affiliates to replace the documentary or show it after 10 p.m., the time at which the Federal Communications Commission loosens restrictions, when he spoke last week to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

Phillips addressed the court as part of a hearing on whether the FCC rushed to judgment in concluding that NYPD Blue and three other programs violated decency rules.

Saying the FCC was chilling free speech rights, Phillips mentioned the documentary to show the court how timid broadcast companies had become since the FCC toughened its position toward profanities after the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show on CBS.

So far, about a dozen CBS affiliates have indicated they won't show the documentary, another dozen say they will delay it until later at night and two dozen others are considering what to do.

 

3rd September   Nutters Falling Ass Over Tit

From Free Speech Coalition

Parents Television CouncilWhen Helen Mirren took stage to accept an Emmy for her performance in HBO’s Elizabeth I, she commented that her great triumph is not falling ass over tit coming up those stairs,If you saw the shoes I’ve got on, you would understand. Later in the broadcast, Calista Flockhard repeated the phrase while presenting another of the show’s awards.

The Parents Television Council (PTC) announced yesterday that it has filed an indecency complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concerning the airing of “vulgar and obscene language” used by actresses Helen Mirren and Calista Flockhart.

It is utterly irresponsible and atrocious for NBC to air this vulgar language during the safe harbor time when millions of children were in the viewing audience, said PTC president L. Brent Bozell in a statement released by the PTC.

PTC’s director of corporate and government affairs Dan Isett said the word “tits” was the problem:
It’s one of the original ‘seven dirty words,. It should be considered a dirty word.

In other “decency news,” the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) requested a meeting with President George Bush in order to discuss the importance of enforcing federal obscenity laws, according to articles published on the Focus on the Family (FOF) website.

Trueman requested his meeting with Bush in a letter sent on the behalf of “nearly 50 pro-family groups,” according to the FOF.

The same article includes a statement from Tom Rodgers, reportedly a former police detective, describing the damage done to communities by “porn shops.”

 

31st August   These Censorial Times

From CNET News

The New York Times said Tuesday it had blocked British Internet readers from seeing a story detailing elements of the investigation into a suspected plot to blow up airliners between Britain and the United States.

The New York Times article cited unnamed investigators providing information not given publicly by British police. It detailed the content of martyrdom videos and bomb-making equipment found by police and said an attempt to blow up the airliners was not as imminent as authorities had suggested.

The same article appeared on the paper's Web site, but readers in Britain who clicked on the headline received the notice "This Article Is Unavailable." On advice of legal counsel, this article is unavailable to readers of NYTimes.com in Britain. This arises from the requirement in British law that prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial, the notice said.

However British newspapers the Times and the Daily Mail also published details from the New York Times article this week.

A government source said no injunctions had been taken out against the British papers, but action could not be ruled out if details were in any future publications, closer to a trial date.

Media lawyer Mark Stephens of Finer Stephens Innocent said he could not see anything wrong with the blocked New York Times article and the decision by British papers to print similar details showed the contempt of court law may be the problem.: It's probably unhelpful to have an area of law which is so uncertain where one set of lawyers is saying censor everything while another says there's nothing wrong with it. Even by blocking you don't have the desired effect. You actually create an enhanced interest as the blocking becomes a story in itself, which fans the flames of curiosity,

The British take this very seriously and tend to attack publications for contempt even if the arguments that we would have made sounded fairly reasonable, said George Freeman, a lawyer with the New York Times.

Freeman said it was no guarantee that someone in Britain could not find the story.

 

28th August   Sharia in Sandy Springs

From AVN

Love Shack chainThe Sandy Springs City Council in Georgia has passed an obscenity law after two months of deliberations.

The measure, approved unanimously last week, prohibits the sale, distribution and even the advertisement of obscene material. It also includes a list of acts that it defines as obscene, including certain sex acts as well as sex toys, although it makes exceptions to those needing the material for sexuality class or through a prescription from a doctor, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The issue of the new law was raised after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Georgia’s obscenity law was unconstitutional, forcing local governments to operate without one unless they can pass an obscenity law of their own.

Sandy Springs City Attorney Wendell Willard said the new measure would give the city a way to prosecute buyers and purveyors of obscene material.

But Alan Begner, an Atlanta-based attorney whose clients include Sandy Springs adult stores Love Shack and Starship Enterprise and Extreme Video, said the new law would do away with a customer’s right to access adult material in the city.

Shady Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said the city does not plan to crack down on adult stores.

 

13th August
updated to
30th August
  Game Over for Illinois

From IGN.com

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas gameAs result of trying to enact a law banning the sale of violent videogames (which was found unconstitutional), the State of Illinois must pay the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), game industry trade group, $510,528.64 in attorney fees.

Judge Kennelly's rulings send two irrefutable messages -- not only are efforts to ban the sale of violent video games clearly unconstitutional, they are a waste of taxpayer dollars, said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the ESA. The sad fact is that the State of Illinois knew this law was unconstitutional from the beginning. Taxpayers have a right to know that over half a million of their dollars and countless government hours were thrown away in this fruitless effort.

The Safe Games Illinois Act would have required retailers to use warning labels in addition to the existing Entertainment Software Ratings Board labels. It also would have forced retailers to post signs within stores explaining the ESRB rating system.

In December 2005, United States District Judge Matthew S. Kennelly handed down a permanent injunction halting the implementation of the law. In his decision declaring the law unconstitutional, Kennelly sided with the ESA, writing, If controlling access to allegedly 'dangerous' speech is important in promoting the positive psychological development of children, in our society that role is properly accorded to parents and families, not the State.
 

30th August   Update: Game Over for Louisiana

From X Biz

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas gameCiting the 1st and the 14th Amendments, a federal court judge has issued a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of a law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Brady comes shortly after the Governor of Louisiana signed Act 441 into law, which bans and criminalizes the sale, lease or rental of a video that “appeals to a minor’s morbid interest in violence.” 

But in a lawsuit filed by the Entertainment Software Association and the Entertainment Merchants Association seeking a preliminary injunction and ultimately a permanent injunction, Brady sided with the plaintiffs, stating that they were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Louisiana law infringes on free speech and violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Brady further stated that depictions of violence should be given full constitutional protection along with other unpopular forms of free speech, and that video games should not be treated differently from other forms of media.

The state may not restrict video game expression merely because it dislikes the way that expression shapes an individual's thoughts and attitudes, Brady wrote in his ruling.

Other laws seeking to ban the sale of violent video games to anyone under 18 have already been struck down in six states.

 

27th August   Surviving Protest Rallies

From the BBC

Officials in New York are campaigning to stop the broadcast of a new series of reality show Survivor which divides contestants into ethnic "tribes". City council officials are to stage a rally on Friday to urge New York-based CBS network to pull the 13th series of Survivor, due to air from 14 September.

CBS said it had "full confidence in the producers and their ability to produce the programme in a responsible manner". The network announced on Wednesday that the 20 "castaways" would be
initially segregated into groups of blacks, whites, Asians and Latinos before merging later in the series. It said the move was aimed at addressing complaints that there had not been sufficient ethnic diversity in previous series.

But New York councillor John Liu told the Associated Press: "The idea of having a battle of the races is preposterous. How could anybody be so desperate for ratings? The programme could encourage racial division, he added.

The campaign group Hispanics Across America called the programme "racist TV". Founder Fernando Mateo said:
The participants will be held to the daunting and
unfair challenge of representing an entire race of people.

 

27th August   No Questions to be Asked

Based on an article from X Biz

On June 6, US Representative, Chris Cannon, proposed a new bill, HR 5528, titled the Pornography Jurisdiction Limitation Act of 2006. Under the terms of the brief bill, no court created by act of Congress shall have jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court shall have no appellate jurisdiction, to hear or decide a question of whether a state pornography law imposes a constitutionally invalid restriction on the freedom of expression.

In a statement, Cannon expressed concern over federal court decisions that have invalidated state anti-pornography laws.

For too long, Cannon said, federal courts have been creating a dangerous climate for our children by overturning important decisions by state courts to restrict pornography consumption and distribution within their borders. My legislation simply lets states decide for themselves how they tackle this problem.

With the rise of the online adult industry, a number of states — including New York, New Mexico, Michigan, Virginia, Arizona and Vermont — passed legislation designed to extend their existing pornography restrictions to the Internet. In each instance, the laws were thrown out as unconstitutional by federal court judges, who ruled that the state content regulations violated the 1st Amendment. The courts also ruled that state attempts to regulate online activity beyond their borders are a violation of the Constitution's Commerce Clause, which reserves that power to Congress.

The Free Speech Coalition, which is currently challenging a Utah law that provides for an email registry, strenuously opposes the proposed legislation. In a summary prepared by Legislative Affairs Director Kat Sunlove and FSC counsel Reed Lee, the FSC argued that the law would lead to the "Balkanization of expression in the U.S."

There is relatively little likelihood that Cannon's bill will make it into law. The same day that he introduced his bill, it was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and no further action has been taken.

 

23rd August   Miles off Constitutional

Based on an article from AVN

A U.S. Court of Appeal unanimously invalidated Missouri Revised Statute 226.531, which prohibited advertising within one mile of a state highway by any business classified as an "adult cabaret" or "sexually oriented business." Plaintiffs in the lawsuits which brought this issue before the court were Passions Video and Lion's Den, both adult-oriented businesses which would have been affected by the law.

The court analyzed the Missouri law under the criteria set forth in a 1980 case, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission of New York, which proposed a four-part test to be applied to the government's power to restrict commercial advertising, and found that the law failed the fourth prong of that test.

To determine whether the regulation on commercial speech is constitutionally valid, wrote Senior Judge Gerald Heaney, presiding over a three-judge panel of the court, we determine whether: (1) the affected speech concerns lawful activity and is not misleading, therefore protected by the First Amendment; (2) the government’s asserted interest in regulating the speech is substantial; (3) the regulation directly advances the asserted interest; and (4) the regulation restricts no more speech than necessary to serve the asserted interest. The state 'bears the burden of identifying a substantial interest and justifying the challenged restriction.'

The court found that the law restricted more speech than was necessary to accomplish the state's goals.

It's hard to say that a mile restriction – anything within a mile of a highway – is narrowly tailored to anything, assessed Chicago attorney Reed Lee.
I think the interesting feature is that under the third prong, the court said, 'Well, this is really a way of regulating secondary effects.'

 

18th August   Risque Denial of Free Speech

From AVN

A U.S. Appeals Court here has struck down a Pennsylvania law that bars “lewd” behavior at businesses that serve liquor.

The U.S. District Court of Appeals three-judge panel ruled that a state law which prohibits “any lewd, immoral or improper entertainment” at establishments that serve liquor “punishes a significant amount of protected speech".

The ruling comes after two exotic dancers were cited for performing wearing only high heels, G-strings and Latex pasties at Club Risque.

By law, statute violators would be charged with a misdemeanor and face a $5,000 fine and up to a year in prison as well as loss of the establishment’s liquor license, if convicted.

Lawyer J. Michael Murray, who represented the dancers, said his clients feared that their right to express themselves artistically had been compromised by the law, which dates back to the 1950s, according to city records.

John O.J. Shellenberger, the chief deputy Pennsylvania attorney general involved in the case, said that he was unsure how the ruling would impact enforcement of the law. Clubs are often cited for lewd entertainment, according to documents with the Liquor Control Board.

 

15th August   Bullied by Oldies

From Scripps News

Bully Playstation game The video game, Bully, from the makers of Grand Theft Auto has been called a Columbine simulator and an impetus for teen violence.

This week's announcement of the game's October release has seen more details emerge. Bully may be evolving into a benchmark game for issues ranging from censorship to the stature of video games as relevant social commentary.

Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship said: Video games plainly have certain levels of subtlety that are not easily available to other genres. The story can move in a lot of different directions, depending on how you play it.

But Frank Bolanos, the Miami-Dade school board member who pushed for the game to be banned in his district, has a different view: It's just a violent game. It just seems to be profit-driven.

Bertin isn't surprised by that sort of reaction to Bully and a call to suppress it by the British government last December.

Terry Donovan, one of the founders of Rockstar, recognizes that gaming is going through an ordeal that other media have had to endure: History is littered with forms of expression that have been considered 'controversial,' only to be welcomed into the fabric of society as valuable creative expression a few years later.

Clive Thompson, video game critic for Wired News and contributing writer for The New York Times, calls video games this generation's rock 'n' roll: Video games are as divisive as rock 'n' roll was and they have created an experiential generation gap. It's that gap, Thompson thinks, that is sparking much of the outcry against video games: There are a number of reasons why games are more disturbing to people than movies or music. It is demographics; the people who are worried about them, don't play them and don't understand them. It's a perfect storm of misunderstanding.

Alice Taylor, executive producer with the BBC, says like television before it, video games are struggling for general acceptance:
I think that's the case with any new technology or new system; people who haven't grown up with it think it's the devil.

 

14th August   Circumventor

From Computer World

The developer of proxy software designed to defeat Web filters is offering Internet users $10 to install and run his application, as a way to raise its profile.

Independent developer Bennett Haselton, creator of the Circumventor proxy software, announced late Thursday that he would pay the money to people who install Circumventor, send him the URL of the proxy and keep it running for at least a week. Haselton promotes Circumventor as a way for young people to defeat Web-filtering software at schools and libraries, but also as a tool for people living in countries that filter Web content.

We'll distribute the [proxy] URLs to people who need them, such as people serving in the U.S. military overseas (where Internet connections are censored to limit access to sites such as MySpace), and victims of totalitarian dictatorships such as China, North Korea, and high school, he wrote on his Peacefire.org site.

The U.S. House of Representatives vote in late July to approve the Deleting Online Predators Act, which would require many U.S. schools and libraries to block social networking sites such as MySpace, prompted Haselton to make the offer, he said in an e-mail.

Haselton will distribute the new proxy URLs on the Circumventor e-mail list, which has about 20,000 subscribers, he said. Paying $10 per computer is "a lot cheaper than paying for a dedicated Web host," he added.

Haselton said he hopes the $10 offer will give Circumventor an advantage over Web-filtering software vendors: It may help turn the tide in the cat-and-mouse game between anticensorship server operators setting up new Circumventor sites, and blocking software companies trying to catch up and block them.

 

14th August   Cutthroat Censors

From X Biz

Pirates DVD coverAlmost a year after its release, Digital Playground’s hardcore hit, Pirates. continues to generate interest in the first R rated version of a hardcore film.

Digital Playground founder Joone explains, From the time we were writing the script, we wanted to make a movie that could play without any sex in it. We went in with that mentality — saying that we needed a great story, and as strong characters as possible.

That feat, Joone said, was not as easy as he initially had hoped. The first cut the study provided to the MPAA, had too much sex and not quite enough story, resulting in a flat no: We asked if they thought it was possible to get an R-rated cut out of it, and they said, ‘We think you can.’ So that was a little light at the end of the tunnel.

What followed was an epic, six-month struggle to find a balance the ratings body could live with. Part of the problem, Joone said, was lack of clear direction on what is and isn’t acceptable. One minor advantage is that the two main characters were married, so the MPAA didn’t seem to have much objection to them having sex.

Interestingly enough, though, the final product was a movie Joone believes is less explicit than some supposedly mainstream R-rated flicks:
Studios get way more leniency with their films, both because of stars and the fact that they know it’s going to be a theatrical release. I mean, we could not, in our movie, have two girls kissing. And in how many movies have you seen that?

 

13th August   Game Over for Illinois

From IGN.com

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas gameAs result of trying to enact a law banning the sale of violent videogames (which was found unconstitutional), the State of Illinois must pay the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), game industry trade group, $510,528.64 in attorney fees.

Judge Kennelly's rulings send two irrefutable messages -- not only are efforts to ban the sale of violent video games clearly unconstitutional, they are a waste of taxpayer dollars, said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the ESA. The sad fact is that the State of Illinois knew this law was unconstitutional from the beginning. Taxpayers have a right to know that over half a million of their dollars and countless government hours were thrown away in this fruitless effort.

The Safe Games Illinois Act would have required retailers to use warning labels in addition to the existing Entertainment Software Ratings Board labels. It also would have forced retailers to post signs within stores explaining the ESRB rating system.

In December 2005, United States District Judge Matthew S. Kennelly handed down a permanent injunction halting the implementation of the law. In his decision declaring the law unconstitutional, Kennelly sided with the ESA, writing, If controlling access to allegedly 'dangerous' speech is important in promoting the positive psychological development of children, in our society that role is properly accorded to parents and families, not the State.

 

12th August   Click Your Heels and Wish to be Anywhere But Kansas

Based on an article from AVN

Kansas map with Christian crossThe owners of six adult book and video stores, who were already facing obscenity charges, were indicted on similar charges by a Kansas Grand Jury Tuesday.

According to court papers, the owners of Circle Cinema and After Dark were slapped with several obscenity charges involving their Sinsations and Adult Entertainment Center stores as well as another After Dark location, all located in Topeka.

Last month, Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office charged Hiunion Inc. with misdemeanors of selling and distributing obscene material when it sold sex toys, magazines such as Freaky Fetishes and videos such as Caught Masturbating 3, The Art of Anal Group Sex and All Girl Asslicking.

Since individuals were not charged in the indictments, penalties could range from heavy fines to the stores’ closure or both, according to state law.

Kansas prosecutors have been under pressure from nutter groups using a state law that allows citizens to force a Grand Jury investigation by collecting 1,300 signatures on a petition.

 

10th August   US Ratifies Convention on Cybercrime

From Out-Law

The US Senate ratified the Convention on Cybercrime on Thursday, the first international treaty on computer-related crime and the gathering of electronic evidence.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dick Lugar said the move will enhance America's ability to join with other countries in fighting computer crime internationally.

The United States was a leading participant in the negotiation of the Convention and expects it to have a significant law enforcement impact, particularly in terms of our ability to obtain assistance from other countries in the investigation and prosecution of trans-border computer-related crimes. In particular, it will enhance our ability to cooperate with foreign governments in fighting terrorism, computer hacking, money laundering, and child pornography, among other crimes."

The Convention, which also deals with copyright infringement, lists a number of substantive crimes that parties agree to prohibit under their domestic law, requires parties to adopt improved procedures for investigating computer crimes and provides for international cooperation in the investigation of such crimes. American law is already in compliance with the Convention, so no implementing legislation is required, making ratification a largely symbolic gesture.

The Convention was signed in November 2001 and came into force in July 2004. The UK has signed the Convention but has yet to formally ratify it. While ratification requires implementation of the Convention's principles into national laws, most of them are already in the UK's laws.

An Additional Protocol against racism and xenophobic material on the internet is not likely to be signed by the US because it is inconsistent with the country's Constitutional right to free speech. Canada became the 28th state and the first non-European country to sign the Additional Protocol last July.

 

10th August   Communities Value Unbelievable Nonsense

From AVN

Advert campaigning against hotel room porn13 religio-reactionary nutter groups placed an ad in USA Today calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute companies which supply adult videos for hotel pay-per-view systems. Although the ad only appeared in the D.C. and New York City editions of the newspaper.

The Citizens for Community Values (CCV) were said to have played the leading role in the advert.

The specific targets of the ad, which is titled If what begins with a click can end as a registered sex offense, it's time we rethink hardcore porn, are OnCommand and LodgeNet, which are termed two companies ... largely responsible for flooding U.S. hotels with the majority of highly alarming and pornographic video content. Not explained in the ad are why such videos are "highly alarming," nor which particular sex offenses are "registered."

We are calling on the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to immediately investigate the companies that distribute it to determine whether 'adult' videos being sold in hotels by OnCommand and LodgeNet violate long-established Federal and State laws regarding distribution of obscene material, said Burress of CCV, who over the past few years has attempted to convince various Ohio and northern Kentucky prosecutors to strong-arm hotels into banning adult pay-per-view.

The ad opines that, It's high time America began thinking less of profiting from debasing women and more about prosecuting – under current laws – those who produce, sell and distribute hardcore porn.

Several of the nutter organizations sponsoring the ad are also signatories to a letter from the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, which urges religious people to ignore scientific findings proving the existence of global warming, and all oppose comprehensive sex education in schools, as well as condom distribution for HIV prevention in Third World countries.

Yeah, they care about
men, women, children and families!

 

8th August   The US Censorship Game

From X Biz

US games age classificationsProposed federal legislation called the Truth in Video Games Act, or H.R. 5912, would fundamentally alter the way the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) assigns ratings to computer and video games, and contains language that gives the Federal Trade Commission oversight of the ratings system.

The legislation proposed by Representative Cliff Stearns would effectively prohibit video game producers from failing to disclose its games’ content to the ratings board. The new rules also would stop producers from mischaracterizing content to circumvent the ratings board. The FTC would act as the arbiter of how “mischaracterization” is defined.

The ESRB was created by the Entertainment Software Association to function as an independent ratings board. The legislation would require the organization to view video games in their entirety before issuing a rating. Currently, the ESRB depends on producers’ statements about a game’s objectionable or adult content to assign a rating.

While there has been some movement to restrict the sale of violent video games at the state level in Illinois, Minnesota, Louisiana and California, among other states, most of these measures have been unsuccessful and struck down by state judges.

Additionally, the bill would require the General Accounting Office to study the effectiveness of the ESRB and devise possible alternatives, suggesting a universal ratings system that spans across the various mediums of movies, music and TV.

 

7th August   A Library of Lost Freedoms

From X Biz

CDT logoFree speech online is facing its greatest legal opposition in a decade, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) said about two bills currently working their way through Congress.

The CDT commented on a broadband bill before the Senate that contains provisions requiring labeling for adult content sites and the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), which recently passed the House, that bans social networking sites from school and libraries.

According to CDT executive director Leslie Harris, free speech online is facing some of its most serious assaults since the passage of COPA in 1998.

The U.S. government continues to spend millions of dollars to fight successful court challenges to COPA, which requires adult sites to obtain proof of age before users can see adult content, Harris said.

Harris believes that both bills go too far in their attempts to protect children from pornography online and predators.

The adult labeling provision of the broadband bill requires any website with sexually explicit content to be labeled. According to the CDT’s director for Internet standards John Morris, such a requirement is overbroad because it would require labels for sites ranging from hardcore pornography to sex education. Labels would also be required for sites without photographic content, Morris said.

According to Harris, DOPA, which is sponsored by Representative Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., would give the FCC “remarkable power” to decide which websites can be blocked from schools and public libraries. DOPA violates the 1st Amendment by restricting an entire category of speech, Harris said.

 

5th August 4472 Censorship Laws

From J. D. Obenberger, Attorney at Law, www.xxxlaw.net

XXXLAWOn Thursday, July 27 2006, President Bush signed House Resolution 4472 into law, an enactment with profound effects for adult webmasters.

The definition of those who produce sexually explicit content now includes the class of persons who have been called "secondary producers" in the Regulations. That change seems to take effect immediately.

Secondary producers, eg adult webmasters  now have to maintain records of actors in hardcore scenes. Previously these records were maintained by the primary producer.

In addition new softcore material will also require the maintenance of records.

JD Obenberger maintains information about the new censorship law at www.xxxlaw.net and in particular tries to answer some of the following questions:

  • When does HR 4472 Take Effect?
  • Why Did Congress Enact the Section 2257 Amendments?
  • What is the Practical Effect of the Changes in Section 2257?
  • What Should a Webmaster Do to Comply with the Amendments?
  • What Else did Congress do in HR 4472?
  • What other Changes of Interest to Adult Webmasters did HR 4472 Make?
  • Isn't There an Injunction Against Section 2257 Inspections?
  • Isn't all of this Unconstitutional?
  • What Should I Do If the Agents Come for an Inspection?

 

31st July   Censorchip

Based on an article from the Columbian

Broadcasters and other entertainment providers have unveiled a $300 million ad campaign to inform parents how they could shield their children from supposedly objectionable television shows.

The humorous public service announcements urge parents to visit a Web site that offers information on how to use the "v-chip" and cable set-top boxes to keep sex and violence out of their living rooms.

Jack Valenti, former president and CEO of the MPAA introduced the ads at a briefing before leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee. Valenti said the online tools will equip parents to: be the boss of what your kids watch.

The campaign is coordinated by the Advertising Council in cooperation with the MPAA, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Consumer Electronics Association, the major television networks and satellite TV providers.

The campaign was originally announced last April in the hope it would persuade Congress not to pass legislation increasing penalties for indecent broadcasting. Congress voted to increase fines tenfold anyway.

Valenti said the new campaign was not about fending off legislation but "doing the right thing." While the indecency law covers only broadcast television, Valenti said the new education program should help parents include cable and satellite programming, too.

 

29th July   Extreme US Depictions

From AdultFYI

Clarence Thomas Gartman and Brent Alan McDowell were sentenced today in Dallas. Senior District Judge Barefoot Sanders sentenced Gartman to 34 months in prison and McDowell to 30 months in prison. Both Gartman and McDowell.

Following a five-day jury trial in Dallas in March 2006, Gartman and McDowell were each found guilty of one count of Mailing Obscene Material and Aiding and Abetting. Gartman was found guilty of an additional count of Conspiracy to Mail Obscene Material.

Gartman and McDowell's activities were discovered while investigating the site activities of Garry Layne Ragsdale and his wife, Tamara Michelle Ragsdale. Gartman and the Ragsdales were partners in a business distributing videos until a dispute arose between them, in early 1998, which dissolved the partnership. The Ragsdales were convicted in federal court in Dallas on Oct. 23, 2003, on obscenity charges related to the obscene video business they conducted after their partnership with Gartman ended. Garry Ragsdale was sentenced to 33 months in prison and Tamara Ragsdale to 30 months in prison. Their convictions were upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last year.

The government provided evidence at trial that beginning in 1998, Gartman and McDowell maintained a site on the Internet, forbiddenvideos.com. The site was used to advertise and distribute obscene videos by VHS cassettes, CDs and streaming video, depicting rape scenes, sexual torture and other explicit sex acts.

Obscenity has a three part definition under U.S. law. To find a matter "obscene," the jury was required to apply contemporary community standards to satisfy a three-part test: (1) that the work as a whole is an appeal predominantly to prurient interest; (2) that it depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and (3) that the material, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. An appeal to "prurient" interest is an appeal to a morbid, degrading and unhealthy interest in sex, as distinguished from a mere candid interest in sex. This three-part test is a result of rulings by the United States Supreme Court in 1973 and 1976.

 

28th July   Naked Repressionz

From X Biz

Amending the 2257 federal record-keeping requirement, President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 before a White House crowd that included “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh, for whose son the bill is named.

While H.R. 4472 takes dramatic steps to protect children, such as creating a national sex offender registry, it also reshapes the 2257 playing field, according to Free Speech Coalition attorney Jeffrey Douglas, who said that the law mandates that so-called secondary producers — a group that likely includes adult webmasters — will be required to comply with 2257.

In addition to expanding liability to secondary producers, the proposed law also mandates record-keeping for films and images containing depictions of “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person.”

According to Douglas, that means that exhibitions of mere nudity could fall under the 2257 record-keeping regime.

 

28th July   Intoxicated by Power

From AVN

70 years of repressionA federal judge has barred the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission from seizing adult materials unless a judge deems it obscene.

U.S. District Judge Gray Miller said Monday that the agency’s practice of seizing pornographic materials it deems obscene violates the constitutional guarantees of free speech, the Houston Chronicle reported. Miller also ruled a law that allowed such seizures unconstitutional.

Miller’s ruling is part of a 2003 lawsuit filed by Houston-based Carico Distributing Co. which distributes adult materials in Texas. The company sued the agency after it conducted repeated raids on liquor and convenience stores that carry its adult magazines and videos.

In ordering a permanent injunction on seizures, Miller said the agency could only seize adult materials after a judge determined that they were obscene. He also struck down as unconstitutional a law that forbids stores with licenses from the commission to carry or display “immoral, indecent, lewd or profane” materials

 

22nd July   Red Carpet

See www.filmratings.com

Red Carpet serviceThe US rating system that helps parents stay informed about movie content appropriate for children has added a new e-mail alert service.

The Classification and Rating Administration announced its introduction of Red Carpet Ratings, which can be received on computers or handheld devices, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said.

As new movies are released each week, parents can receive new ratings and explanations for the ratings. Posters at movie theaters also will help inform parents about ratings and the Red Carpet Ratings service.

The rating system established 38 years ago is determined by a board of 10 to 13 parents who rate movies submitted by filmmakers.

US residents can sign up by visiting the Motion Picture Association Web site at www.mpaa.org or www.filmratings.com. E-mails generally will be delivered every Tuesday.

 

19th July
updated to
29th July
  Leader of the Not So Free World

Based on an article from Reuters

FCC logoPresident Bush's use of 'shit' during a supposedly private chat with British Prime Minister Tony Blair Monday forces US broadcasters to follow strict new indecency laws while their cable rivals have no such worries. Cable networks are free to air Bush's quote in its entirety but broadcast networks risk fines and even their licenses by airing it without bleeping the word.

Bush's candid remark to Blair was picked up by an open microphone during the closing lunch at the Group of Eight summit in Russia. In the remarks, he expressed his frustration with the United Nations, Hizbollah's attacks on Israel and the group's backers in Syria.

See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over, Bush told Blair as he chewed on a buttered roll.

Video clips of the remark were available on the Internet soon after that, but broadcast industry executives and attorneys said in an interview that airing the remark would put them at risk of Federal Communications Commission sanctions.

I guess the FCC has performed a new feat by forcing broadcasters to censor the leader of the free world, one executive quipped. Under rules adopted by the commission in 2004, the use of variations of the word "fuck" or "shit", no matter how they are used, can get broadcasters fined, even if it's a slip of the tongue.

 

29th July   Update: FCC a Public Disservice

Based on an article from Ledger Enquirer

FCC logoUnclear federal rules for broadcast television decency standards are putting public TV stations at risk and threaten to deprive viewers of important programs, PBS President Paula Kerger said Wednesday.

The fines now would put stations out of business and we cannot allow that to happen, Kerger told a meeting of the Television Critics Association: We need to do a better job ... in letting the American people know that this is not just about Janet Jackson. This is about filmmakers that have powerful stories that now are not being allowed to tell those stories on public television or broadcast television.

Next week, PBS plans to file arguments in support of a Northern California public TV station that is appealing a $15,000 fine levied by the Federal Communications Commission over the airing of an episode of Martin Scorsese's music documentary The Blues.

It's paralyzing, said Kerger, who has held the posts of president and chief executive officer for less than five months but worked in public broadcasting for 13 years.

John F. Wilson, a fellow PBS executive, gave a vivid example of broadcasting's quandary: Scenes in which a character utters an epithet may be censored not only for sound but for picture, he said: We try to follow the zig or the zag here of the FCC ... we are now blurring lips when you can see plainly, to a reasonable person making this judgment, that you can tell what they're saying,

PBS is wary of what might befall an upcoming documentary on World War II by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns. The War is scheduled to air in fall of 2007.

Those sharing their memories for such a film should be able to do so freely, even if FCC-banned epithets are involved, Kerger said. One suggested solution is to put The War on later at night, she said, but that would deprive some of the chance to see what Burns feels is his greatest work.

For now, the film is scheduled to air between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., although the air date has yet to be announced. Alerting concerned viewers to its language content should be considered an adequate safeguard, Kerger said:
They should have the opportunity not to watch something if it's going to be troubling. But for others, to be able to see a documentary and to be able to let a person tell their own story and not censor the words that are coming out of their mouth is tremendously important.

Meanwhile CBS Corp officials were in court Friday, asking an appeals court to overturn a Federal Communications Commission decision to fine the broadcaster for showing Janet Jackson’s breast during the 2004 Super Bowl.

In a statement, the network said:
We disagree strongly with the FCC’s conclusions and will continue to pursue all remedies necessary to affirm our legal rights,”

 

5th July   Trapped in the Closet Freed from the Closet

From EOnline

Tom Cruise on South ParkOne week after South Park's controversial Trapped in the Closet episode garnered an Emmy nomination, and nearly four months after it was abruptly pulled from rotation on the cable net, Comedy Central has finally acquiesced and will allow the Scientology-skewering episode back on the air.

If they hadn't put this episode back on the air, we'd have had serious issues, and we wouldn't be doing anything else with them, creator Matt Stone tells Variety.

The episode reportedly ruffled some high-powered feathers upon its first airing. In addition to an accurate, if cartoon-depicted, primer on Scientology, the show featured a literally closeted Tom Cruise who refuses to come out, only to be joined in his hiding by fellow Scientologist John Travolta and R&B man R. Kelly, whose operatic ballad provided the show's title. The episode is also credited for leading Scientologist Isaac Hayes to jump ship as the longtime voice of Chef.

Stone explains that the episode's removal was nearly the final straw for the duo, Trapped in the Closet was the third instance of censorship by the network.

Last year, the network declined to rerun the Bloody Mary episode after the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights attacked Parker and Stone and protested the program that featured a menstruating statue of the Virgin Mary.

In April, Comedy Central intervened on another episode before another religious group could take umbrage. Cartoon Wars, an episode dealing with the worldwide violence ensuing from a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet, was broadcast with a title card reading Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network.

South Park's Trapped in the Closet returns to Comedy Central's airwaves July 19.

 

10th July   Irreparable Injury to Film Sanitizers

From AdultFYI

CleanFlicks logoAfter a bitter three-year legal battle involving Utah companies that sanitize DVD/VHS movies, a federal judge in Denver ruled that such editing violates US copyright laws and must be stopped.

In a ruling in the case involving CleanFlicks vs. 16 of Hollywood directors, US District Judge Richard P. Matsch found that making copies of movies to delete objectionable language, sex and violence hurts studios and directors who own the movie rights. Their [studios and directors] objective . . . is to stop the infringement because of its irreparable injury to the creative artistic expression in the copyrighted movies, the judge wrote in his decision.

Michael Apted, president of the Director's Guild of America, said that movie directors can feel "vindicated" by the ruling: Audiences can now be assured that the films they buy or rent are the vision of the filmmakers who made them and not the arbitrary choices of a third-party editor,

The judge ordered CleanFlicks and other companies named in the suit, including Play It Clean Video and CleanFilms, to stop producing, manufacturing, creating as well as renting edited movies. Those businesses also must hand over all inventory to the movie studios within five days of the ruling.

The ruling does not affect another Utah company, ClearPlay, which has developed technology in DVD players that edits movies on the fly as they play.

 

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