Main | Thursday, October 25, 2007

Big Win For Adult Websites

You may recall back in September when I passed along an alert from the NGLTF regarding the expansion of the 2257 Regulations, which would have required internet social networking and hook-up sites like Facebook and Manhunt to maintain your photo ID on file, information many would be loathe to put in the hands of such parties.

Fear no more. On Tuesday, the U.S. Sixth District Court of appeals overturned the original regulations as overly-broad and in violation of free speech protections.
Tuesday's ruling is a remarkable win for adult publishers, not just because of the weighty nature of the regulations but also because the lawsuit has been going on for so long. The case was originally filed in September 1995, and this is likely going to be the last word unless the U.S. Supreme Court gets involved.

Although the Justice Department tried to downplay the impact of the record-keeping rules, the court reasonably noted that the regulations apply even to couples taking erotic photos for their own private use. Uploading them to the Web is regulated as well, of course.

"This reach is extremely broad, and the most commonsense limitation, for which the statute and regulations provide some support, would be to limit the statute's reach to photographs taken for a commercial purpose, that is, photographs taken for the purpose of sale," the 6th Circuit said. But, the judges added, "the plain text and definitions of the terms used commercial limitation on who will be considered producers."

Fortunately, the 6th Circuit recognized this, and concluded: "The government has drawn a similarly over-inclusive line here by including all sexually explicit photographs, whether created for commercial purposes" or otherwise. (The lawsuit was filed by a swingers' magazine called Connection that allowed couples to send in explicit photographs of themselves.)

As the linked CNET article notes, as written, the regulations made felons out of anybody (not just the site owners) who made or uploaded sexually explicit photos without complying with the Justice Department rules. No word yet from BMB about their resuming to allow members to upload their pervy self-pics.

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