News in Porn Law

News in Porn Law

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this week struck down a statute imposing strict record-keeping requirements on pornographers. The Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2257, required producers and distributors of sexually explicit material to keep proof of the name and age of every person depicted therein (and even to note their aliases, nicknames, and maiden names!) and attach to every porn item a notice of where such information may be found. This was all ostensibly in the name of making it easier to catch and prosecute child pornography, but what it did was substantially burden legitimate smut-peddlers, especially websites that act as conduits for large volumes of porn produced by other people.

The Sixth Circuit therefore decided
that the law was overly broad to reach its ostensible target of child pornography and intruded too far on the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights. The First Amendment prohibits the government from regulating speech (read as: anything remotely communicative, including pictures of naked people) based on its content, which this law did. The court also held that porn participants have First Amendment rights to remain anonymous – good news for all of us on the internets, not just the adult performers.

The statute stays in force, however, everywhere outside the Sixth Circuit, which consists of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The internet and our federal court system being what they are, that means everyone online, whose porn can be seen outside those four states, will have to keep complying with the law until the Supreme Court has its say.


Thumbnail photo courtesy of hansol.



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