FSC Supports the Fight Against ISP Blocking in the UK

December 13, 2013

UK_union_flagThe Free Speech Coalition is pleased to be able to join with the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) at the UK’s Authority of Television On Demand (ATVOD) conference: “For Adults Only — Protecting Children From Online Porn”

The two organizations reinforced their common purpose to protect children online and have called for a public education campaign as the only viable alternative to blanket censorship, such as ISP blocking, based on the findings of their report ‘Protecting Children in the Digital Age.’

Any media requests should be directed to:

Sue Mutton

Susannah Mutton PR & Marketing Consultancy


or press@freespeechcoalition.com.

Free Speech Pioneer, Publisher Barney Rosset Dies at 89

February 24, 2012

We live in a country were, as Americans, we have unprecedented freedoms and rights. The First Amendment, which provides us with freedom of speech and expression, is first for a reason. Because great minds knew that without open exchange of ideas; the entitlement to civil debate; and the right to express in art and literature topics that some might find controversial – without these freedoms, there would be little opportunity for progress and freedom.

Barney Rosset was one of those great minds. Rosset, the one-time owner of Grove Press and editor-in-chief of the Evergreen Review, was responsible for the landmark Supreme Court ruling, in 1964, that allowed him to publish Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, which up until that time had been consider “obscene.”

With the monumental amount of information we have access to in this Digital Age, it’s hard to imagine a time when words on a page could be consider so offensive, so subversive, so dangerous that they should be banned. But Rosset took a hard stand for authors like Miller, DH Lawrence, the Beat poets – all of them now required reading in colleges and universities.

Rosset was the American publisher for the erotic BDSM classic The Story of O. He went back to court in 1968, when U.S. Customs seized copies of the early Swedish erotic film “I am Curious (Yellow)” that Rosset meant to distribute. And he won.

Rossett fought, not only for the freedom of expression of controversial artists – he fought for people like you and I to be able to have access to strange ideas and concepts so that we might see different perspectives and take away from them valuable understanding – or whatever the audience chose to take away from an experience others might deem inappropriate. A true free speech advocate, he believed in freedom of expression, in the extreme. He trusted in the intelligence of the people who would read those books and see those movies, and upheld the right for those people to make up their own minds.

That’s what being an American is all about.

Sadly, especially in difficult economic and political times, there is a tendency toward the conservative, to seek safety and sacrifice some of our freedoms. We forget how hard certain individuals have fought so that we could have those rights. Rosset dedicated his life to that battle and we have all benefited from his pioneering spirit. If you have ever enjoyed a passage from Lady Chattterly’s Lover or Naked Lunch or Waiting for Godot, you owe Barney Rosset a debt of gratitude.

Rosset died following recent heart surgery. He was 89.

(Photo: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection)

Special thanks to FSC Board President Sid Grief

FSC’s Diane Duke Debates ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley

October 5, 2011

In September, FSC Executive Director Diane Duke debated ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley on the topic of .XXX, which was approved by ICANN in March after ten years of opposition from the adult industry. The debate, which was a featured event at the inaugural XBIZ EU Summit held in London, was lively.

The audience seems very vocal in support of Duke’s assertions, pulled up one-by-one, from ICM’s own documents, including contracts, by-laws and assorted fine print. Lawley also is quite vocal, and repeatedly points out that Duke is “misinformed” and “mistaken,” in spite of noted documentation. Reading all that paperwork is time-consuming; just last week, registrar EnCirca revealed that up to 50 percent of applications received during the initial .XXX “Sunrise” period were filed with errors. Better read those directions carefully.

When asked how many .XXX domains have been registered defensively (by mainstream and adult businesses that wish to block their trademarks from being infringed upon), Lawley was unsure, but confirmed that sales had exceeded ICM’s expectations. More precisely, Lawley said he didn’t know the exact number because he’s “a busy man.”

Asked why the .XXX domains are so expensive – compared to a .com or .net – Lawley pointed out that other specialized domains also charge increased prices for addresses, e.g., .info, .travel and .mobi. In fact, Lawley cited the other specialized TLDs several times during the discussion.

So, when was the last time you went to a .travel site? Maybe .travel should get a racing boat, because people that like to travel also like boats, right? Hey, wealthy people like speed boats, too – and they probably wouldn’t mind owning some .XXX real estate, right?

According to Lawley, webmasters will benefit from the $20 million in marketing that ICM is going to spend, in the first year (does that include the price tag on Miss .XXX, and what it costs to maintain her with a racing crew?). The ads will be aimed at all the porn-curious consumers out there that have been afraid to visit an adult site for the last 15 years, until .XXX created the new “kinder, gentler porn.”Also, speed boat racing fans.

Lawley has previously been quoted as saying that the reputation of the adult industry has been “tarnished” with consumers. What he doesn’t understand is that “tarnished” is what drives adult entertainment. It’s supposed to be naughty, edgy and taboo. That’s why conservatives hate it; because pornography is, by its nature, a little subversive.

Part of the promotion campaign, according to Lawley, will be ads on media outlets that weren’t approachable prior to .XXX. He pointed out ESPN.com, and Time.com. But has he checked with their conservative investors?

Disney owns 80 percent of ESPN – what’s gonna happen when Morality in Media, hordes of pissed-off soccer moms and pornography addiction activists join to bombard Disney with demands that advertising for “pornography” be removed from their holdings? Heaven knows, Disney owns thousands of trademarked brands – wonder if we’ll be seeing TheLittlePrincess.xxx anytime soon?

Time Warner owns HBO and Cinemax. Are they going to be anxious to advertise a controversial online platform for adult entertainment, that competes with their own adult distribution and threatens their PPV revenue?

And Lawley claims to have had no contact from animal activist nonprofit Peta, about their planned adult site. If that’s true, then maybe ICM Registry should hire Peta’s pr agency.

So, if what Lawley is actually implying is that adult e-commerce and adult sites have been perceived as vectors for malware and other shady shenanigans, that sort of online consumer naivety wore off about the time everyone gave their info to Facebook.

At the end of the day, the real debate is, what can .XXX do for an adult online business that a .com cannot?

Do you need to have your sites scanned daily for malware? Do you need more competition from newbies in the .XXX space? Are you willing to take a chance on being blocked by whole countries, when you’ve already had Net Nanny and RTA on your .com site for years? Do you need a policy council? Do you want ICM Registry to create payment process that involves selling credits to consumers, or does that seem like a conflict of interest, since ICM also has a say in creating policy for .XXX?

And, just on a sidenote – we visited the .XXX sites that have gone live, that could be found only by going to the ICM website. Casting.xxx, which launched first, finally got their age verification page set up. But not so at VOD site anywhere.xxx, where you can go straight to hardcore images. It’s a little confusing – whether we’re supposed to be preventing kids from accessing adult online material, or… In any case, the sites are simple, not many bells and whistles – like sites used to look when there were still plenty of newbies trying to get into adult online.

And then there’s Desi.xxx, which is a sexy chat forum for folks from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Guess they didn’t get the memo that India was the first country to block .XXX, less than five days after it was approved. Still, the site is quite tame – except for the banner advertising ILoveInterracial.COM.

(Video: Courtesy of XBIZ.com)

.XXXploitation, .XXXtortion and .XXXpletive Deleted

July 14, 2011

Three of us were standing around at the AVN Novelty Expo the other day, having a discussion about .XXX domains and the negative effects the new sTLD will have on adult online businesses.

One of our colleagues, a rather well-known adult performer, said he had pre-registered HisName.xxx for fear of squatters leeching off his traffic, but he wasn’t quite sure what to do with the address if he decided to purchase it.

“I understand why it’s so bad,” he said, “but I don’t want someone using my name…” His content, though, is very unique and he was reassured that he was very unlikely to lose traffic to an inferior web para-site. Still, the problems of squatting and price gouging do seem inherent to the .XXX business model.

“Well,” he said, pondering the problem, “What if I buy the address and put up a landing page that says the only reason I bought it was because I felt extorted into buying it, and I was afraid that someone would squat on it?”

There was a snort of skepticism, followed by mutual response, “Hah! ICM [Registry] will NEVER let you do that. Are you kidding? ICM is a private company – they don’t have to allow you any free speech. You’ve got to follow their policies and the policies of the IFFOR board. It will all be in the contract. There’s NO way they would ever let you do that… Besides, you can’t ever link it to your .com address because then that site has to comply with their policies, too.”

So, a private company like ICM Registry is under no obligation to allow freedom of speech on a piece of Internet property that they administer and operate? In fact, part of that $70 dollars paid annually for a .XXX address (projected to go much higher by the launch in September) will fund the IFFOR Advisory Board that will decide policy for the sTLD. This reality is somewhat precedent setting in an Internet where people have traditionally assumed a tremendous amount of freedom to put up and post whatever they want.

Goes without saying – ICM Registry is probably not going to allow a paying customer to put up content that defames them or is critical of their methods. Not when Facebook can pull your profile page without giving you an explanation of how you violated their policy –  nearly every adult performer knows about that.

So, the real question is: What else are they going to decide doesn’t belong on a .XXX site? And WHO decides that? And WHAT will the criteria be for controversial content?

The adult industry is nothing if not controversial. And what is YOUR recourse, if you violate policy by being controversial?

It’s like buying a house in a community that has an HOA. If you want to paint your garage door pink or own a pit bull, they probably won’t let you do that. Oh, and the .XXX HOA Advisory Board? None of them actually live in your neighborhood, but they get to make the rules. Better make sure you know where all the fences and easements are supposed to be, before you start planting that wicked garden.

New media has overgrown the boundaries of free speech; with the Internet’s boundless territory, it has redefined “community” as global. It has been referred to as the Wild West, where hackers and pirates make their own laws. In some quarters, that freedom is very, very scary.

And nearly 20 years after the rise of the Internet, regulation and restrictions have become a hot-button topic. Even as China builds its Great Firewall, with claims that it took down 1.4 million sites last year – Italy has decided that the government’s telecomm agency can seize websites without a court order. The U.S. claims its seizure of popular Spanish P2P site Rojodirecta.com is the same as confiscating a crack house or any other property involved in illegal activities. In Australia, a country literally populated with shiploads of outlaws, Internet analysts debate the filter that will block child pornography sites; are the protocols for the filter transparent enough and will it give lawmakers authority over other forms of content? And what about the new “six strikes” policy adopted by the U.S.? ISPs will send notices out to IP addresses where illegal downloading may have occurred; by the fifth strike, you’re almost out – will this sink the international pirate armada?

India and Kenya have already promised to block the .XXX domain and, presumably, so will all Islamic countries.

The Free Internet Posse wants the Internet to be free and accessible for all – but .XXX’s potential for regulatory oversight, mandated categorization, Internet fragmentation and wide-scale censorship must make them shiver in their boots.

And the conservatives? Well, they don’t want .XXX unless there IS legislation mandating that all adult online businesses be corralled in the .XXX “red light district” – the shadiest part of town. Classification by content is the only way to arrive at all-encompassing censorship of an unpopular form of speech.

And the Mormons? They’re are wondering why they have to pay to block Mormon.xxx.

In the past two weeks, two of the adult industry’s big guns issued their demands to ICM.

Manwin, operator of many popular adult online franchises (including Brazzers and Twistys) sent a letter to ICM Registry demanding that 57 of its domain names and various similar names be blocked from being registered by third parties – and Manwin does not want to pay the blocking fee.

“The misuse of our intellectual property will not be tolerated,” said Manwin Managing Partner Fabian Thylmann.

Hustler issued a similar challenge to ICM Registry to protect one of the most recognizable, iconic adult brands in the world.

“It appears that the .XXX TLD will do nothing but drive up costs to the adult community and will force us to fight infringement on yet another front,” Hustler president Michael Klein said.

Well, ICM Registry can’t rightfully do this for one adult brands without doing it for all the other adult brands, right? And all the other mainstream trademark owners out there, as well – right?

FSC opposes the .XXX domain and urges all adult online businesses to stay .COM. – jc

(Photo: Some rights reserved by Publik15)

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)

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