FSC Sends Letter to ICANN, GAC, Opposing Proposed .XXX sTLD

January 31, 2011

Free Speech Coalition (FSC) on Friday sent a letter to the Board of Directors of Internet regulator ICANN and to its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), urging the Board not approve Internet registrar ICM’s application for the proposed .XXX sponsored top level domain (sTLD).

“This is an extremely comprehensive and powerful document,” FSC Executive Director Diane Duke said. “FSC thanks Jeffrey Douglas, Tom Hymes and especially Reed Lee who worked long hours ensuring not only that all topics were covered, but also that they were meticulously referenced.

FSC has opposed the adoption of .XXX domains for adult online business since 2004. The adult industry trade association is asking that the ICANN Board and GAC will consider the document prior to the ICANN Board meeting scheduled to be held in March, in San Francisco.

When it rejected ICM’s .XXX sTLD proposal in 2007, the ICANN Board articulated five reasons, virtually all of which related to concerns that had been expressed by ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). After that decision, ICM Registry invoked ICANN’s process of an Independent Review Panel (IRP). Utilizing the information provided by ICM’s application and testimony that included ICM representation — but no adult entertainment industry representatives — the IRP determined that ICM had met the “sponsorship community” requirements for the sponsored TLD.

At the last ICANN Board meeting held in December, the Board expressed intent to move into a contract with ICM for a .XXX sTLD but, as required by ICANN’s by-laws, must consider GAC advice. The .XXX consideration now moves to consultations between the ICANN Board and the GAC.

On a number of occasions, the GAC has voiced concern over a .XXX sTLD.  FSC’s letter focuses primarily on the context of those concerns raised by GAC. The GAC took issue with the promises included in ICM’s proposal, challenging ICM’s ability to follow through with those commitments.

ICM claims that .XXX will help combat child pornography and protect vulnerable communities. ICM asserts that $10 of every $60 registration will go to combat child pornography. However in its letter, FSC documents where that very same $10 has been promised to help the adult industry for everything from 2257 to piracy. Moreover FSC quotes the founder of Safekids.com — one of the oldest and most enduring web sites for Internet safety — stating, “As an Internet safety advocate, my concern about .XXX is that it could give parents a false sense of security.”

Also in its letter, FSC pointed out the promises to protect intellectual property seem to extend more to mainstream companies than the businesses ICM purports to represent. ICM’s “Sunrise for .XXX” initial rights protection document offers domain parking options to only non-adult companies. The letter challenges ICM’s intent to “take appropriate measures to restrict access to illegal and offensive content,” pointing out that what is legal and offensive varies drastically from country to country.

Finally FSC addresses the issue of “sponsorship community” clearly documenting where the adult industry and ICANN were deceived by the use of “pre-reservations” as a sign of industry support. – jc

For more information on opposition to the proposed .XXX sTLD, contact Diane Duke at diane@freespeechcoalition.com. The letter can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the link below.

FSC Letter to ICANN and GAC 1-28-11


Land of the Free: Pornography and What We Are Really Fighting

January 30, 2011

 

Legions of rightwing moral activists – both groups and individuals, religiously and politically motivated –  believe that if they can eliminate the adult entertainment industry, the world will be a better place.

There are already many countries in the world where “porn” is prohibited; China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Botswana, Vietnam and Pakistan, just to name a few. News broke this morning that Iran has sentenced two webmasters to DEATH for operating adult sites (one of these webmasters was operating in Canada, but was arrested when he traveled to Iran to visit his sick father). Perhaps anti-pornography activists should relocate to these countries and see if they like it better than the United States.

Because in the U.S., we have individual civil rights and one of these is free speech – that said, moralists are relentless in spreading their message of fear and “porn” is an easy target. Especially at a time when people are uneasy about the economy, the global political climate and many other everyday concerns; the “holier than thou” fear mongers are ready to build communities against an enemy. For people that are uncomfortable with sexually explicit material, their anxiety is easily provoked with misinformation about “porn addiction,” “epidemics,” “STDs,” “child pornography” and the spin around every other negative sex-related trending topic.

In just the last two months, several public figures have jumped on the anti-adult bandwagon, ready to  push their moral agenda. And very quietly, people are listening to their message without realizing they are at risk of losing their civil rights, bit by explicit bit.

Anti-pornography organization XXX Church will sponsor “Porn Sunday,” to coincide with Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 6. Participating churches will hold discussions on “porn addiction” and show a 30-minute video featuring, among other NFL players, Dallas Cowboys QB Jon Kitna.

In the original version of a promotional “Porn Sunday” video trailer, Kitna said when he entered college, he discovered the world of online porn and, at the same time, he began “drinking to blackout,” “cheating,” “stealing” and “womanizing.”

What is the point that Kitna is trying to make here? That “porn” caused him to act out compulsively? Well, there are plenty of people that enjoy adult entertainment that aren’t alcoholic and don’t steal or cheat their way through school. Why isn’t Kitna participating in “Alcoholic Sunday” or “Compulsive Behavior Sunday?” Maybe because those titles don’t draw attention (or flocks to churches) like the buzzword “porn?”

It should be noted that XXX Church has recently pulled the original version of the trailer and now has a more uplifting version available for distribution on its website. It also should be noted that there is NO official designation for “porn addiction” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) as of right now – but there sure seem to be a lot of therapists out there treating it. And a lot of those therapists seem to have a connection to some underlying religious/moral ideology.

In fact, a “porn addiction” center recently opened in the state of Utah, which, coincidentally, is also the state ranked No. 1 for viewing pornography online.  A recent article in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News explained corporate brands that have recently taken an anti-sexually explicit stance (in this case, pulling advertising from MTV reality show, “Skins,” which – by the way – is NOT adult entertainment). The article seems to suggest that the time has come for corporations to overlook the rights of Americans and move forward with anti-pornography policies, in order to save society.

The unnamed author said, “Without addressing the question of rights, companies must face the mounting evidence that pornography is costly to individuals and society.”

What evidence? There wasn’t a shred of evidence presented in this article. If Utah has the largest population of online adult viewers, where are the signs of moral corruption and societal decline? In Utah, more than 60 percent of the population is members of the Church of Later Day Saints – that sounds like the environment for a very pious, moral population.

Remember – no one holds a gun to your head and makes you watch pornography. You do not immediately receive porn on your computer monitor when you hit the “power” button – you have to go looking for it. No legitimate, legal pornographer wants children to be able to view pornography. No adult entertainment business wants to be involved in illegal activities in order to produce adult entertainment. The adult industry is already subject to a higher level of scrutiny than other industries.

And if you don’t like pornography, then don’t watch it. DON’T watch it – you have the choice and you should be thankful that you have the liberty of choice in this great country of ours.

But there are plenty of well-intended citizens that want to make that choice for you. They’ve already decided that adult entertainment is bad for you and they want to save you from yourself by taking away your ability to choose. That attitude is not only condescending, it’s dangerous. Because if they get to decide that porn is wrong and dangerous, then what’s next? Homosexuality? Controversial books? Provocative clothing? Profane words? Video games? Violent movies? “South Park?” Anything that THEY don’t like?

You know what they say about good intentions… the road to Iran, China and many other places is paved with them.

Anyway, here’s a laundry list of moralists that have targeted adult entertainment as the biggest point on the Devil’s pitchfork:

  • Republican politician Mitt Romney, who served on hotel chain Marriott’s Board of Directors until earlier this month, has been linked to Marriott’s recent decision to discontinue PPV adult entertainment in their hotels. Romney allegedly encouraged the decision after being criticized by conservative Republicans for his ties to a business profiting from adult entertainment. The AFL-CIO (the largest trade association in the U.S.) has criticized Romney for helping to eliminate a revenue stream that could provide higher wages for hotel union workers.
  • Media activist group Morality in Media recently appointed Patrick Trueman as its CEO. Trueman was former Chief of Child Exploitation and Obscenity at the Department of Justice under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He is also founder of PornHarms.com, and anti-adult organization that researches the “harmful” effects of pornography.
  • Anti-pornography activist, feminist and professor Gail Dines recently penned this article about the big business of porn, and her experience at the AVN Adult Expo in January – except that she is describing her experiences at the 2008 AEE show, though this article was published earlier this month. She calls adult producers and directors “predatory capitalists,” and implies that they persuade and coerce the female performers in the industry to objectify themselves for profit – which implies that, unlike “feminists” like Dines, adult industry women are so weak and ignorant that they cannot make their own decisions. She also is the founder of anti-pornography organization Stop Porn Culture.
  • Anti-pornography evangelist Shelly Lubben and her Pink Cross Foundation actually did attend this year’s AEE, in order to “save porn stars,” as well as promote Lubben’s new book “The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn” and her rap EP, produced by Christian music producer Fredrick “Ricky B” Burchell. Lubben has claimed, repeatedly, that her relatively short career in the adult industry caused her to suffer from mental and physical illness. Since becoming a born-again Christian, Lubben speaks at seminars hosted by churches and universities.
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) recently filed complaints with CalOSHA against adult producer Vivid Entertainment – the most recent action in their two-year campaign to force mandatory condom regulations on adult video productions.

And that’s just since December. These groups will always exist and because they have a right to free speech, they will continue to have a voice in public forums. But we members of the adult entertainment industry also have a right to voice our opinions. Since adult entertainment is a protected form of speech, we have a right to produce legal adult entertainment for adults, and citizens of the United States have a right to view it if they choose – and then they can decide for themselves, what is appropriate or inappropriate, right or wrong, bad or good. No one has the right to take that choice away from you, in the United States of America.

Free Speech Coalition serves as a pro-adult industry voice to the public, media and legislators. We do that on behalf of adult industry businesses and professionals – and on behalf of free citizens. – jc

(Graphic: Some rights reserved by Nuclear Vacuum – The red areas indicate countries where pornography is prohibited; yellow where there are restrictions; and green where pornography is legal.)


FSC Announces Election Results, New Board Members

January 26, 2011

FSC is proud to announce new members to its Board of Directors. The Board election was open to all active FSC members and held during the month of December.

Incumbent board members that were re-elected include Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas, Board President Sid Grief, Secretary Mark Kernes, Board Treasurer Lynn Swanson, Reed Lee, Alec Helmy, Joel Kaminsky and Mara Epstein.

Kink.com founder Peter Acworth is newly elected to the FSC Board. In addition, ElDorado Trading Co. founder Larry Garland was appointed to a seat vacated by Wicked Pictures Joy King. King is stepping down due to other obligations.

“Both Larry and Peter bring a strong business component to the Board – Larry from the novelty side, Peter from the online video side,” said FSC Executive Director Diane Duke. “Those skills coupled with their leadership ability will be a valuable addition to FSC’s Board.”

Members of the board in good standing include Theresa “Darklady” Reed, Tom Hymes and Christian Mann, bring the total number of seats to 13. Those elected serve two-year terms. -jc

(Photo: Some rights reserved by David Drexler)


Whether or Not You Hate Sarah Palin, She Has a Right to Free Speech

January 18, 2011

This is a layperson’s (my) opinion of how free speech is supposed to work: American citizens are allowed to express themselves using various protected forms of speech – speech that doesn’t incite violence or bodily harm (an example of illegal speech being, if someone were to falsely call out “Fire!” in a crowded theater at the risk of causing a stampede). In using protected speech, citizens are allowed to express their opinion, even if it appears to the majority to be repellent, obnoxious, disgusting or just plain wrong.

Other citizens, at that point, have the right to voice their opinion to the original speaker in open debate and tell them that they are repellent, obnoxious, disgusting or just plain stupid. As adults, we are encouraged by the Constitution to engage in public debate and even heated arguments – short of physical violence, resulting from that debate. And, in the end, the majority can decide which opinion they agree or disagree with. Consequently, if someone (like Ms. Palin) makes enough statements that go against broader opinion, then the public could choose to rightfully ignore her or even call her out as a crackpot.

Is Palin guilty of misguided public statements and a bloodthirsty pursuit of furthering her own political agenda? Should she have used better judgement? Maybe so. That’s for each individual to decide. That’s how free speech and democracy are supposed to work.

Because of the extremely tragic incident in Arizona where six lives were lost and several people wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a new uproar for limiting speech is being argued in the media. Parties are pointing fingers and several political pundits calling for “inflammatory speech and symbols” to be culled out of the public discourse.

Trouble is, as with “obscenity” – how do you clearly define what is “inflammatory?” And who’s in charge of defining it?

As Jeffrey Miron said in an article posted on CNN.com, there’s no guarantee that free speech will or needs to be “civil,”  but once you allow the government (or other entities) to start restricting speech, you’ve started a slow slide down a slippery slope.

“The argument for free speech holds simply that the harms from government restrictions on speech are worse than the harms from free speech itself. If government can determine what constitutes acceptable speech, it will use that power to restrict speech in inappropriate ways,” Miron said.

And while there has been an outpouring of sympathy for the victims and their families, there is no proof that’s been brought to light (yet) that accused shooter Jared Loughner was influenced by Palin’s press campaign featuring a “cross-hair map” targeting Democratic congressional seats, including Gabrielle Giffords’. Even if he was a sworn acolyte of the Church of the Mama Grizzly, it’s not like Palin went down to the gun shop and bought the ammo for him.

For all we know, Lougner may have been hearing voices or reacting to any number of perceived messages from media or elsewhere. The sad fact of the matter is that Loehner appears to be mentally unstable – and there will always be mentally unstable individuals that will act out violently. Restricting speech isn’t going to change that, the same way that outlawing adult material wouldn’t stop rapists or sex offenders from acting on their compulsions.

At the end of the day, you’ve got crazed gunman Loughner, muttering on a YouTube video about his “genocide school” and how “they are controlling the grammar.” You’ve got Palin spitting out sound bytes like “Don’t retreat – reload!” and “blood libel.” Censorship won’t eliminate the problems of mental illness or hate speech, but may actually make it harder to detect – much less find resolutions for these issues. Taking away each individual’s right to analyze what is being said so that they can make a well-informed choice opens the door for thought control, misinformation, agenda-pushing and propaganda.

If we allow speech to be limited because of the chance that there may be unstable individuals that will maim or kill, isn’t that basically the same as giving into terrorism? Why should sane, intelligent people have to watch what they say, in order not to ignite some lunatic’s fuse? And if others speak of lunacy, using rhetoric that the majority does not accept, then why should sane, intelligent people be restricted from arguing against that speech?

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

All men are created equal – for me, that presumes that all people are capable of deciding for themselves what is appropriate and inappropriate, what they agree with or don’t agree with. Once you allow someone else to decide what’s correct for you to say (or hear or see or think), you lose another little bit of your right to make that decision for yourself – you lose a little bit of your freedom.

We hold these truths to be self-evident… -jc


A Few Photos from the 2011 AVN Adult Expo

January 12, 2011

Getting a photo opp at the Girlfriends Films booth. Girlfriends donated more than $14,000 to charities last year, on behalf of their models

 

Signing for John Stagliano's Evil Angel; starlet Bobbi Starr

A female fan has her picture taken with Digital Playground starlets Stoya and Kayden Kross

Starlet Tori Black is a fan favorite; here, she's signing for studio Elegant Angel

MILF star Deauxma appears in many Girlfriends Films releases

As all-American as hot dogs, apple pie and ... adult entertainment!

FSC had a great time last week, at the AVN Adult Expo held at the Sands Expo Center, in Las Vegas. Lots of fans and stars attended the annual convention, which features the best and the next in adult entertainment. The companies featured above are all strong supporters of FSC – and one of the best things about the Vegas show is it’s the one time of year that we get to see friends, old and new. The adult entertainment community is tight-knit, and we are proud to be a part of it. – jc


‘You’re Americans. Act Like It!’

January 11, 2011

Created by artist Al Haug.

Haug excepts donations to support his artwork at his PayPal address. This article posted on Salon.com in September gives instructions for how to order a poster or a T-shirt of this design.

Also, a Salon writer reports that this image is aimed at anti-Muslim sentiment evoked by the debate over the “Ground Zero Mosque.” However, we think that Haug’s message may by applied to more than only religious freedoms. – jc


Freedom of Speech: From the Mouths of Babes

January 11, 2011

In a 2006 article from Southern Methodist University’s Daily Campus – Art history major Liza Oldham exhibits an insightful and eloquent understanding of the importance of upholding the right to choose, especially if that choice happens to be enjoyment of, or employment in adult entertainment.

The opinion piece was published during an uproar caused on-campus when Playboy Magazine came to Dallas, scouting models for its “Girls of the Conference USA” pictorial. Most of the SMU ladies that tried out for the coveted chance to appear in Playboy have probably graduated on to other endeavors; but what Ms. Oldham has to say is no less relevant today than it was in 2006 – or 1996, 1986, 1976, 1966 or 1953, the year that Playboy was founded… or in 1787, when the founding fathers signed the U.S. Constitution.

Oldham’s response was to another author’s opinion, that admonished and judged Playboy and the ladies of low morals that saw the opportunity to be in Playboy as a means of furthering themselves, or expressing themselves as sexual beings, or just because it would make them happy. As Oldham points out, in America, we all have the right to pursue happiness, don’t we? Why should anyone have the right to judge if what makes you happy is right or wrong, as long as what makes you happy is legal and legitimate?

But more than that, Oldham clearly illustrates the important role that pornography plays as a legitimate, though unpopular, form of free speech. Especially now, as the “politically correct” threaten even American literary icon Mark Twain with censorship; it is essential to recognize that freedoms that took a couple of centuries to establish aren’t lost overnight, but in little bites as subjugation eats away at autonomy.

“Like it or not, pornography is here to stay, and it has the right to stay; it may be one of the most extreme and outlandish examples of free speech, but the fact that it is backed by the Constitution ought to reassure us of our own rights,” she says in the article. “As Larry Flynt, founder of Penthouse (sic), said, ‘If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.'”

Amen to that. Thank you, Ms. Oldham, where ever you are, for understanding what so many have trouble grasping, even in 2011. And we certainly don’t intend to use the term “babes” as derogatory here, but as a compliment toward intelligent, young women (and men) that aren’t afraid to speak their mind or pursue their happiness. – jc

(Photo: Some rights reserved by Lavalamp66)


2010 Top Legal Technology Stories

January 4, 2011

Tech blog Ars Technica was kind enough to round up their Top Ten Legal Tech Stories for 2010 and, no surprise, almost half of them dealt with the topic of online copyright infringement. It was a banner year in The Pirate Wars – from Apple losing a DRM skirmish around jail-breaking their iPhone to weapons-of-mass-defendants “John Doe” infringement suits. One story that didn’t make the AT Top Ten, but we thought was worthy of mention, was the Thanksgiving week seizure of more than 80 “rogue” websites by a special division of Homeland Security called the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (or ICE) – proving that Homeland Security can seize a lot more than just your junk at the airport.

Just last week, owner of the seized Torrent-Finder domain told TGDaily that he is currently trying to rebuild his online presence and SEO strategy using a .info domain. That’s the online pirate’s equivalent of patching your sails, hoisting your mizenmast and setting sail in uncharted waters. – jc

(Photo courtesy of Cornell University Library)


Performers Only Meeting on Condoms & Workplace Safety at the AVN Show

January 4, 2011

Wondering what’s up with the latest developments regarding proposed condom use and workplace safety on adult production sets?

Free Speech Coalition (FSC) will host a meeting for currently active adult industry performers only, at The AVN Show in Las Vegas this week. No media or public will be allowed. This meeting is not is not a public forum, but a meeting for performers to learn more about current developments with proposed mandatory condom/barrier protection and other workplace safety issues.

FSC professionals will facilitate the discussion and industry attorneys will be on hand to answer questions.

The meeting will be held in Meeting Room 102, located in the Sands Expo Center, on Friday, at 5pm.

For more information, email joanne@freespeechcoalition.com. Follow us @FSCArmy.

Presented by FSC, the adult industry trade association.


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