by Furry Girl
I am pleased to see that a new fight is gearing up against the United States' horrible 2257 regulations, and I want to tell my readers about why "a porn regulation" should matter to them as sex workers, sex workers' rights activists, and privacy rights supporters.
"2257" is shorthand for the numerical code of the irritatingly-named Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. You can read about it in detail on Wikipedia, but the short of it is that when you appear in adult productions in the US, you as the performer/model must give the production company/photographer two forms of identification and sign a bunch of paperwork promising that you are over 18. (Which is its own absurdity, because there have been a few instances of 16 or 17 year olds getting fake IDs to work in porn, and any contract a minor signs is void anyway. The contract doesn't do a thing to guarantee age, and does not prevent a determined teenager from working in porn. It's the producer who is punished, even if they do everything they possibly can to screen out a lying underage worker.) 2257 laws, like all ridiculous, anti-privacy, anti-free speech measures, are "to save the children."
There are many good reasons to oppose 2257 regulations as they stand now, not the least of which is that it's an attempt by the government to strangle the sex industry and stifle sexual expression online through red tape and excessive paperwork-keeping requirements. As someone who both appears in and produces online porn, 2257 is a problem from all sides for me, but there are two facets which I oppose the most. (I covered this topic in my talk in privacy at the 2010 Desiree Alliance conference, and I really wish more sex workers understood what happens to their information once they sign waivers and let their IDs be photocopied.)
First off, 2257 laws are a horrifying problem in terms of privacy for models and performers. I am required to keep records of the name and legal address of all people who appear on my websites, and to keep copies of two forms of ID, one of which must be government-issued and have a photo. If I pay them over $600 US in a year, I am required to note their social security number for tax purposes. I am required to keep these model releases and IDs organized by legal names and stage names, and where the images appear. I am required to have these records available for inspection by the federal government to prove that my web sites are not actually filled with child pornography.
As a small-scale pornographer who only produces exclusive content, I keep all of these records to myself, but with the vast majority of porn, content is shot with the purpose of re-selling and licensing it out to many sources, which means a performer who thinks they are entrusting their name to one photographer may end up giving it to hundreds of people. Any random person can search for companies reselling and licensing adult content, and with a purchase, buy performer's legal names, social security numbers, and addresses. I've even seen online content sellers that allow new customers to try their content for free, meaning they are literally just handing out copies of performer's personally-identifying data to anyone who asks. This should rightly scare anyone who has ever signed a model release for an adult company. I even hesitate to talk about it this part of the porn industry publicly, because it's the easiest way for a stalker to find a porn performer. It's not as easy as Googling, "Sally Sweetsucker home address," but a determined stalker can comb through enough adult content resellers and have a good shot at finding their target.
My second main problem with 2257 as a small-scale pornographer is that I am required by law to list my legal name and home address (because that is my business location and primary place of production) on the front page of my web sites. (This is not allowed to be a PO box or an office you rent just for the purpose of record-keeping. It has to be staffed during business hours, and where you actually shoot your content. That might work for a big studio with a building with security, but not for small-timers.) In my decade in the business, I have only ever met one small-scale producer that complied with that portion of 2257 regulations, and I was shocked that they did. Independent pornographers and sex workers like myself should not have to choose between a fear of federal prosecutions and prison time for violating this aspect of 2257 laws, and a fear of overzealous stalkers coming to our homes to rape or assault us. When I started in 2002, it was allowed to have an attorney serve as the official record-keeper of your 2257 documentation, but that changed years ago during the Bush administration. Many small-scale pornographers simply pulled out and found new jobs, too scared of making the horrible choice of federal prison or being attacked by stalkers. No one should have to make that choice. No one should be put in such an extreme a lose-lose position.
There have been legal challenges in the past to 2257 laws, but the fight continues. The Free Speech Coalition has launched a new web site asking for help funding their battle, and you should support it. 2257 laws endanger the lives and safety of sex workers, but this issue is never discussed in sex worker advocacy circles. Porn production regulations are more institutionalized and abstract that the immediate concerns of escorts/prostitutes/etc who fear arrest, assault, and rape, but it's just as real, as just as serious. Please support the effort to fight against 2257 laws, and spread the word.
Furry Girl: a good time not yet had by all.
- I operate SWAAY.org, an accessible sex workers' rights site that educates the general public about our lives and our issues.
- I've been vegan for 13 years because it's the easiest way for an individual to contribute to less violence, suffering, and exploitation.
My adult sites
- Cocksexual.com: Strapons
- EroticRed.com: Menstruation
- FurryGirl.com: Unshaved
- TheSensualVegan.com: Store
- VegPorn.com: Herbivores
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New to my blog? Some favorite posts
- "You have no right to dislike feminism after all it's done for you!"
- "You misrepresent true feminism by focusing on the bad feminists. They're not real feminists anyway!"
- An argument for more sex workers to be out?
- Degrading, violent desires
- Do you have what it takes to be an empowered sex worker?
- Feminism is the shitty relationship you had in your early 20s
- Feminist porn isn't a branch of sex workers' rights, it's an obstacle
- How are we branding sex workers rights in the US? (Let's focus more on *worker*, less on *sex*!)
- How to do your homework on trafficking, "rescue", and the affected communities
- Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists
- Musings on ethical porn and the red herrings of "feminist porn" and "violent porn"
- My call for a "working" class uprising against inaccessible discourse and the over-representation of dabblers
- Sex trafficking is the new crack: manufactured "epidemics" as political tools
- The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists
- Things I've gained from being a sex worker: an anti-paternalistic perspective
- Vigilantism and 'crushing bastards': in praise of anger, hatred, and taking joy in the smiting of one's enemies
- Want to play BINGO with the antis?
- Watch out for psuedoscience: my long-time nemeses of concern trolling and "teaching the controversy"
- What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition
- Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too
Favorite sex/ho blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat