E R N I E ' S H O U S E O F W H O O P A S S
In the past few weeks, many people have written in and asked what I thought about the new changes to USC 2257 and more importantly, how it would effect EHOWA.
For those of you who don't know what USC 2257 is, it's the law that governs the disclaimer you see at the bottom of all the porn sites you visit. The law was created with the intention of stopping child pornography. To be USC 2257 compliant means that yes, all the people having sex on your website are at least 18 years old, and no you're not peddling kiddie porn. Recent changes that became effective on June 24th of this year that set extremely strict guidelines for the management of these age verification records. Now any sexually explicit photo that does not have paper documentation proving all involved parties are age 18+ adults, will automatically be considered child pornography.
So to make sure we're all on the same page, first talk about exactly what the law does - and just as importantly does not - encompass...
Blah-blah-blah, what the hell does it all mean? Well here's the meat and potatoes of it. If you look at this presentation by Lawrence Walters, Esq., go to page 4 and you'll see, "Rule of thumb: Penetration, Masturbation or S&M" (I shall henceforth refer to these three actions as, "The Unholy Trinity") so if a photo depicts any of these three things then it's deemed sexually explicit. Additionally, one adult site offered the following guidance to it's affiliates...
What it breaks down to is this. Nudity itself is not considered sexually explicit; the naked person has to be doing something to make it sexually explicit. So a girl simply showing tits = nudity. The same girl showing tits while she has a mouthful of cock = sexually explicit. See the distinction? Good.
Here's an example. Behold a picture of a Paris Hilton's nipple slip. Okay, it's her, it's her breast, there's her nipple. We've all seen them before, woo hoo. Now, as previously stated, just showing the breast itself does not make the picture is sexually explicit, it's just nudity. It's still safe to post this. But let's turn that up a notch. I used to have a picture of Paris Hilton that was a screen capture from the video of her with Rick Solomon - again she was topless so we could see her breasts - only this time she was giving him a big fat sloppy blowjob. Bzzzt, that picture had to come down because it's now crossed over into the sexually explicit territory due to penetration and I don't have the documentation to make that photo 2257 compliant.
HOW IT EFFECTS EHOWA - So let me first put everyone's mind at ease and explain how this law effects EHOWA. In short, it doesn't. I mean yes the law applies to all website on the internet, from your 13 year old's blog to your company's website, to your favorite hardcore porn. But as previously stated, 2257 applies to "sexual explicit" material; of which you will not find any on EHOWA. Will you see pictures of breasts? Yes, but again simple nudity does not constitute being sexually explicit. Now, did I choose to remove some material that I believed might be treading a little too close to being sexually explicit for my comfort level? Yes I did. Here's a few examples...
I think all in all I removed about 15-20 pieces of material from EHOWA in order to stay safely away from falling under the umbrella of 2257. But the core of EHOWA remains intact for one very simple reason, and I don't care what Steven Bouvet says - EHOWA was never conceived to be, is not, nor will it ever be - a porn site. It's a place for me to rant and bitch about things, and to punctuate my remarks with a few well places pictures. So if you're looking for hardcore porn, you'll have to go someplace else. Nothing has changed in that regard.
Now that we've cleared up what little impact this has on EHOWA and you're all breathing easier, let's talk about the recent changes that came into effect for 2257 and how they impact the internet as a whole.
Let's say that you run a website - an adult website with hardcore pornography - and one of the pictures you have as content to provide to your customers is of Jenna Jameson masturbating with a dildo. Since we know this picture needs to fall under 2257 compliance because masturbation is part of The Unholy Trinity, here's what your obligations as an adult webmaster were and are:
Now the intention of this change is to prosecute those who traffic in child pornography. By mandating that each photo be documented, lawmakers hope to protect minors and cut down on an illegal multimillion dollar industry. I think this is a just cause and the intentions of the lawmakers is a pure one. I think all of us agree, child pornography is disgusting, anyone who enjoys it should be shot, and it has to be stopped. But, as it is currently written now, there are a few huge problems with this law.
First, let's say that I want to stalk Jenna Jameson. All I have to do is start up a porn website and buy some content with her and now she's obligated to provide me with her home address. That's scary. Now further imagine that she's not rich Jenna Jameson who can afford her own bodyguards, but just a regular housewife who has made a few videos with her husband. That's even scarier because there's going to be a lot of personal information changing hands.
Secondly, the new and improved 2577 assumes that all pornography is child pornography, until proven otherwise. Stop for a second and think about that. Guilty until proven innocent. A lot of these smaller "mom and pop" porn sites buy their content from bigger providers, and a good portion of this material may have been shot two or three years ago. The actor/actresses in the material simply aren't around anymore - maybe they've moved, died, changed their names, whatever. So regardless of the fact that the adults in these photos/movies were over age 18 at the time were filmed; regardless of the fact that the photographers have a signed release from the models as required by the law at that time; this existing content will now be deemed illegal since the actors/actresses aren't available to provide the additional info required by the updated law. And thus with the stroke of a pen, probably 80% of the pornography on the internet is suddenly deemed child pornography since it can't be proven that it's not.
And it doesn't matter if the people in the photo are visibly older than 18 either. So if I have a photo of two 90 year olds having sex (I know, ewwww, but I'm trying to make a point here so bear with me), and I don't have copies of each of their photo id's and home addresses and telephone numbers, etc -- then that photo is automatically deemed child pornography. That just doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand how that helps children.
But it doesn't stop there. Take for example this site where the webmaster has put up a little quiz called, "Sex or Something Else." The object is you have to look an an individuals facial expression and guess whether they're having sex or performing some other activity. Click "sex" on the #2 picture in the top right corner. The way 2257 is currently written, this photo which depicts explicit sexual activity would be considered child pornography unless he has the docs to prove otherwise. And in case you're wondering, blurring the photos does NOT make the picture "not sexually explicit". And if this webmaster doesn't have complete documentation on all the actors; and make that documentation available for federal inspection 365 days a year, this cute little quiz is now considered a felony offense.
Do I think more needs to be done to protect children? Yes I do. But do I believe that 2257, as it's currently written, is the right way to go about it? No, I do not. I think this law has gone from one extreme to the other; from requiring almost no documentation to requiring way too much.
I know porn may not be everyone's bag, and that's okay if you're not into it. So let me draw a parallel into something that more of us do enjoy. Drinking alcohol. No wait, I'm serious, so hang with me for a minute here. Both pornography and alcohol are something you can't enjoy in the country until you've reached a certain age, so the principle of each isn't too far apart.
Imagine, a 50 year old man and his 21 year old son walk into a bar and order a round of beers. The bartender sees the father is obviously of drinking age, but asks the son for a copy of his drivers license. After verifying the son is at least 21, he pours them each a nice frosty beer which they proceed to drink. Dear old dad then orders a second round. Mr Bartender Man pours the other two beer which the men drink, pay for and leave. That's it, that's a legal drinking experience in todays day and age.
Now let's transpose 2257's requirements onto the alcohol industry and see how that would have transpired.
A 50 year old man and his 21 year old son walk into a bar and order a round of beers. The bartender asks to see each of the men's drivers licenses and then makes a photocopy of each which he puts into a filing cabinet. The two men consume the beers and ask the bartender for a second round. Again the bartender must see their id's, and make more photocopies of the two drivers licenses before he can pour them a drink. The two men drink their second round of beer and leave. The bartender's responsibility is not done there. He is now responsible for saving those four drinking records (two beers x two men) for a period of seven years. He must also be prepared for inspection by the Federal Liquor Authority and show those records on demand, 365 days a year. So that means if The Feds want to take a look at those records at 9am on Christmas morning, the bartender had better well be abe to give them access, or they're going to cart his ass off to jail.
Now would such laws probably cut down on underage drinking? Yes, yes they probably would. But how much, and at what cost? Imagine having to photo document each one of your party guests every time they consumed a beer or strawberry daiquiri the next time you throw a barbeque. Imagine that you could be imprisoned if your friend happened to mention that he had a beer at your party and you couldn't immediately provide the photo documentation proving he was over 21 at the time. That's effectively what's happening to the porn industry.
Should more be done to stop child pornography (and for that matter underage drinking)? You bet your ass. But I don't think declaring all pornography illegal until proven otherwise is the right anwer. I believe there is merit behind what lawmakers were trying to accomplish and ultimately I hope they succeed. I just don't think 2257 going to accomplish anything even remotely close to what it's supposed to. I think the only thing you're going to see are a lot of US based porn sites go offline, their web hosting services go bankrupt because of lack of business, and a lot of porn just move to offshore hosting. I think we're going to see an increase in identity theft from all these copies of people's personal information running around. And I think the real medium where most child porn is probably traded -- newsgroups and peer to peer sharing -- remain completely unaffected.
Right now the Free Speech Coalition is fighting to have an injuction put in place to block enforcement of 2257. Their argument that the law is too broad sweeping and places too much of a burden on webmasters who provide legal adult entartainment. And, I agree and support their fight. Not because I don't want child pornography stopped - because I most certainly do. Hell, I won't even post pictures of my nephew with his new ATV unless he's wearing a helmet so you can't see his face. I just think there's got to be a better way to go about it than with the current restrictions of 2257.
Consider this. A friend of mine is an Air Force pilot, father of three boys and due to his military status occasionally gets deployed for a few months at a time. So when he and his wife started their family, they also started a website which they use to share family photos both while dad is away, and with their extended families back here in the northeast. Last week he sends out an email stating he has password protected their online photo alblum. Why? Because when they looked in the server logs, they discovered a large number of people were visiting from web searches for "child in diapers," or "child in bathtub," or "naked baby" and various other fucked up searches. Now the fact that a parent has to password protect his family's photo alblum because some disturbed assholes are trying to look at pictures of his children taking a bath, just boggles my mind.
So take this example and ask yourself: What does 2257 do to protect this man's children? The answer is nothing.
Children do need better protection from online predators. But as it stands right now, USC 2257 just isn't it.
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