Free Speech Coalition’s Duke Argues Against Censorship at UK Roundtable

March 7, 2014

uk-british-internet-porn-filter-censorshipFree Speech Coalition president Diane Duke argued forcefully against new UK censorship rules at a London roundtable sponsored by Virgin Media. The discussion, “Switched on Families: Does the Online World Make Good Things Happen?” was prompted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s campaign to censor content at the ISP level. The panel included government representatives, members of the press and supporters of an open Internet. A report on the meeting was printed in the Guardian on Wednesday.

“We applaud the Virgin Media roundtable for taking on a tough issue, and for the Guardian for acknowledging the extent to which these new government-imposed ISP filters can actually harm children,” says Duke. “The filters Prime Minister Cameron supports block sexual health sites, they block domestic violence sites, they block gay and lesbian sites, they block information about eating disorders and a lot of information to which it’s crucial young people have access. Rather than protect children from things like bullying and online predators, these filters leave children in the dark.”

According to a Guardian report, a majority of those participating came away from the panel opposing ISP-level filters. Under the conservative Prime Minister’s directive, internet providers in the UK automatically block any content it deems adult in nature. Internet users who wish to not have their content filter must make a special request to their internet provider.

“If government officials want to protect kids from predators and age-inappropriate material, there are proven and effective means to do it,” said Duke. “They involve parental control, monitoring and discussions. Unfortunately, none has the political appeal of a ‘magic filter’ that promises stop things like child abuse, teen pregnancy and sexual assault by merely censoring content.”

The panel included representatives from over a dozen groups including the UK Council on Child Safety, the Family Online Safety Institute, and Big Brother Watch. Also participating in the discussion was Member of Parliament Claire Perry, who has long advocated for filters at the ISP level, and whose own site was initially blocked by filters due to repeated use of phrases like “porn” and “sex.”

While Duke was optimistic about the discussion, she admits there was a lot of work yet to do.

“There is so much misinformation out there, and the stakes are high. It’s important for us to be at the table, and to refuse to let moral panics be used to limit speech.”


FSC’s Douglas, Duke Attend the Dirty, Sexy Policy Conference

February 20, 2014

DirtySexyPolicy-UCSB-santabarbara-internetpolicy-media-missionandstateFree Speech Coalition Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas and CEO Diane Duke will attend and speak at the Sexy, Dirty Policy Conference, held by the Carsey-Wolfe Center at University of California, Santa Barbara, on Feb 20 – 21.

The conference will bring together prominent scholars, attorneys, activists, regulators, and journalists to analyze and discuss current challenges to media policy. Panelists will tackle such topics as content regulation of obscenity and indecency; structural regulation of broadband technologies; and the broader stakes that policy critics share.

Keynote speakers include former Federal Communications Commissioner Nicholas Johnson, who will give a keynote speech on Thursday. Des Freedman, a professor of media and communication studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, will speak on Friday.

Professors Constance Penley and Karen Petruska, as well as Associate Professor Jennifer Holt organized the conference.

Conference sponsors include the Department of Communication, the Department of Film and Media Studies, the Department of Feminist Studies, the Rick Rosen Television Studies Fund, the Center for Information Technology and Society, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center and the College of Letters and Science.


Censorship in the UK

February 14, 2014

censoredRegulators in the UK are creating an unprecedented wave of censorship that not only pushes for filters at the ISP level, but also criminal prosecution for consumers of what government officials consider “extreme porn.”  I have had the pleasure to work with a group of anti-censorship activists in the UK who are standing strong to protect speech in the UK and curtail the crusade UK’s Prime Minister Cameron has waged against adult content. As is always the case, those who wish to control speech try to marginalize people and groups who stand up against censorship by labeling them extreme. That is why I felt compelled to ask Jerry Barnett – the founder of Sex and Censorship – to provide a brief overview of censorship in the UK.  Jerry has been labeled as extreme because he refused to crawl into bed with UK regulators and instead consistently fights for the rights of content producers and all citizens of the UK.  Thank you Jerry and your coalition of anti-censorship grassroots activists for your incredible work. – FSC CEO Diane Duke

From Jerry Barnett…

While we at Sex & Censorship are following – with increasing trepidation – the endless drift towards censorship in the UK, we’re sometimes reminded that many of our supporters can’t keep up with all the news and events. That’s hardly surprising: Britain is currently experiencing wave after wave of moral panic, and it seems that hardly a week goes by without more bad news for free expression.

So here is a brief round-up of some of the main issues comprising British censorship at present.

Of course, a short blog post can’t hope to explain everything that’s taking place. I’m currently documenting British censorship in a book, Porn Panic: please join our mailing list to be alerted when this is published.

Law

  • The Obscene Publications Act: the granddaddy of all censorship laws, outlawing the distribution of content that might “deprave and corrupt” its audience.
  • Video Recordings Act: since 1984(!) the BBFC (a private organization) has had the right to censor videos and DVDs, and they seem to have a particular problem with pornography, making UK video among the most censored in Europe.
  • Protection of Children Act: originally designed to criminalize images of child abuse, but sometimes misused, even to harass viewers of legitimate pornography.
  • Dangerous Cartoons Act: yes, you can become a sex offender for possessing a sexual cartoon featuring a character that might appear to be under-age - such as seen in popular Japanese anime cartoons.
  • Extreme Porn Law: three years in jail for possessing images of what the government considers to be “extreme pornography” – even if they are images of yourself participating in consensual sex with your own partner.
  • Rape Porn: a planned extension to the extreme porn law whereby you can be jailed for possessing an image of a sexual act that appears to be non-consensual (whether it is actually consensual or not). Quick, delete those bondage photos!
  • Gagging law: no, it’s not about blowjobs: it’s a serious attack on the rights of political campaigning organizations to speak freely, disguised as a law to regulate lobbying.

Regulation

  • Although they’ve never been mandated by Parliament or the British people to do so, Ofcom have consistently refused to allow hardcore sex on TV: even on adult channels at 3am. Almost all other EU countries, and the US, allow porn to be broadcast.
  • A private body, ATVOD, has taken it upon itself to drive much of the online porn industry out of the country, or out of business, by mandating strict website guidelines that make profitable business effectively impossible. They claim an EU directive gives them this right, although strangely, none of the other 26 EU member states have taken this action, and erotic/sexual material continues to be sold legally elsewhere in Europe without such restrictions.
  • Internet blocking: There were at least two attempts to introduce mandatory Internet censorship laws into Parliament last year; while these both failed, we expect similar laws to have more success in the near future.

ISPs

  • Mobile networks: since 2004, mobile operators have voluntarily censored Internet access from phones until the owner proves they are over 18. This censorship covers all sorts of material, and many adults as well as teenagers are denied access to much of the Internet from their mobile phones.
  • Broadband filtering: since December, ISPs have voluntarily begun to offer “porn filters” to home-owners, under the pretext of “protecting children”. However, these filters block, not just porn, but dozens of categories of content for entire households, and offer the bill payer a means of restricting Internet access for others in the same household.

Policing Speech

A raft of laws against “malicious communication” and “terrorism” have been used to jail people for speech alone. Increasingly, the important line between expression and action is becoming blurred in the eyes of the UK authorities. These days, writing can be considered terrorism, and jokes tweeted in poor taste can see you dragged into court.

Academia

There is a worrying trend towards increasing censorship within universities, which (one would have hoped) should be beacons of free expression, debate and discussion. For example, several student unions have banned the Sun newspaper, not for its dodgy news or political bias, but for displaying that most terrible thing, the female nipple. Atheist groups have also had material banned in case it offends religious groups.

Censored UK is a reality.


RIP: Gloria Leonard

February 4, 2014

all_about_gloria_leonard_HP03129_LGloria Leonard died last night in Hawaii after suffering a massive stroke only days earlier. She is referred to as the “doyenne” of the erotic film industry by IMDb.com. Truly a pioneer, Leonard was a star of the Golden Age of adult movies, from 1974 to 1984; the publisher of mens’ magazine High Society; a staunch supporter of the First Amendment; and a groundbreaking feminist.

Ms. Leonard also was served as administrative director of the Adult Film and Video Association of America, the adult film industry trade association, from 1989, until that organization merged with the Free Speech Coalition in 1992. In 1998, she was elected president of the FSC.

She fought for the right of free expression and sexuality. Contributions made by Ms. Leonard have paved the way for generations of performers after her. She showed the world that the adult industry is a place where strong, talented women can blossom and succeed.

Good friend and former performer Veronica Vera posted on Facebook this morning, “Last night at 7:22pm, Robin Leonardi communicated to me the sad news that her mom, our beloved Gloria Leonard had passed. She asked that I hold off posting anything last night. Gloria passed with her daughter by her side. Robin’s message: ‘She’s passed. Wish her well on her journey.’ RIP, dear Gloria.”

AVN Hall of Fame Director Roy Karch wrote, “There was only one; a rare feather in the wind that we were lucky enough to have touched our cheeks as it passed this way. Blessed be Gloria, dearest one.”

Industry writer Jared Rutter wrote, “One of a kind, she was a bright light in a shady world.”

She will be missed by family, friends, fans and all those that knew her.


Assemblymember Isadore Hall Reintroduces Condom Legislation as AB 1576

January 31, 2014

320px-California_Capitol,_Sacramento,_CaliforniaFree Speech Coalition (FSC) has learned today new legislation that would mandate barrier protection for adult performers was introduce to the California Assembly by Assemblymember Isadore Hall (D – Compton).

The new bill is called AB 1576 and was introduced prior to the deadline for new bills to reach the assembly. This is the third time that Assemblymember Hall has attempted to push through mandatory barrier protection; in 2013, he sponsored both AB 332 and 640 in unsuccessful bids to legislate condom use in the adult production industry.

“This measure will further drive production out of state and create severe hardships for ancillary businesses,” said FSC CEO Diane Duke. “Last year, we were able to defeat AB 332 and 640 by going to Sacramento to lobby. It made a big difference for legislators to see people show up to protest those bills. When we go there again, to fight AB 1576, we will really need the assistance of everyone in the industry – our livelihood in California is at stake.”

The primary advocate for mandatory condom regulations is nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which has supported Hall’s campaigns to have the bills passed into law. This latest attempt to mandate barrier protection usage is the latest development in AHF’s nearly ten-year long campaign to force legislation on the adult industry.


FSC Summit This Week, Full Line-Up of Speakers

January 21, 2014

island.tiothylk2014Free Speech Coalition will present its annual Summit, Jan 22-24, in conjunction with the XBIZ 360 conference, to be held at the W Hotel in West Hollywood, CA, next week. The FSC Summit will host seminars on challenges that affect adult businesses today, including product piracy, legal best practices, and the latest on issues affecting content production.

Attendence for the FSC Summit is free of charge, but you must register to attend. To register, please contact info@freespeechcoalition.com or (818) 348-9373. Time is running out to reserve your spot for these informative seminars.

This year’s seminars include:

  • Code of Ethics – Seal of Approval – Jan 22, 10am

A few years back, the Free Speech Coalition, with input from countless industry members, created a Code of Ethics for the pleasure products and adult entertainment industry. With increased scrutiny from the government, payment processors, banks insurance companies etc. it is important for adult businesses to be able to demonstrate good business practices and solid ethical standards. This seminar will review the industry code of ethics and reveal how your company can get the FSC Code of Ethics Seal of Approval to display in your company or store’s window and on your website.
Speakers:
Bob Christian, General Manager of Adam and Eve
Larry Garland, Founder and CEO of Eldorado
Diane Duke, CEO of Free Speech Coalition
Moderator – Jeffrey Douglas First Amendment Attorney and FSC Board Chair

  • Hey! They Are Selling my Products on eBay! Anti-counterfeit Pilot Results – Jan 22nd, 11am

Because of the Internet, the pleasure products industry has been able to broaden its base of consumers. However, the internet has also broadened the amount and distribution of counterfeit pleasure products. Is there anything that can be done? Come and discuss the results of an FSC sponsored pilot with executives from Screaming O, Sportsheets and the company exploring ways to curb distribution of counterfeit pleasure products—Piracy Stops Here.
Speakers:
David ‘Hui’ Newnham, The Screaming O
Tom or Julie Stewart, Sportsheets
Peter Phinney, Stop Piracy Now
Vaughn Greenwalt, IP Consultant
Moderator – Diane Duke

  • When The Cops Come Knocking – Jan 23rd, 10am

This seminar will focus on preparing members of the pleasure products and adult entertainment industry on proper techniques in responding to law enforcement and/or government officials. Law enforcement can strike at any moment and adult industry members need to understand how to not prejudice themselves or improperly supply any testimony or evidence to law enforcement. Year after year, there has been a steady increase in law enforcement activity in the adult industry from agencies such as the FBI, FTC, OSHA, local police, and DHS; this seminar will explore and educate participants on some simple steps that may save you from self-incrimination.
Panelists – Industry attorneys Corey Silverstein, Jeffrey Douglas, Karen Tynan
Moderator – Diane Duke

  • 2014 Adult Content Production in California – Jan 24th, 11am

What is the current situation for filming in Los Angeles and California as a whole? Where are we with the Measure B lawsuit? Is it safe to film in LA? What is up with CalOSHA? Should we expect Assembly Member Hall’s mandatory barrier protection bill AB 640 to resurface in January? Filming in California is complicated to say the least. Get the scoop from those who are in the know about what to expect for 2014.
Speakers:
Paul Audley, CEO Film LA
Kevin Bland, Workplace Safety Attny and FSC’s CalOSHA Consultant
Paul Cambria, Measure B Attorney
Diane Duke
Moderator – Jeffrey Douglas


Winners of the 2014 FSC Award Winners Announced

January 7, 2014

vimoFree Speech Coalition (FSC) is honored to announce the winners of the 2014 FSC Awards, to be presented at the XBIZ 360 conference on January 22, in Hollywood, Ca.  The awards are in recognition for excellence in business and outstanding service to the adult industry business community.

The recipient of this year’s Legacy Award – which recognizes innovation, successful business practices and contributions to the industry as a whole – will be presented to Vivid Entertainment founder Steven Hirsch.

The Positive Image Award is presented to performers that have helped to dispel negative stereotypes and misconceptions connected to work in the adult industry. This year’s award goes to performer James Deen.

Man and Woman of the Year Awards are given to business professionals that have shown exceptional leadership in building solidly established businesses, as well as within their communities. 2014 Woman of the Year is Honey’s Place owner Bonnie Feingold, and Man of the Year is Pipedream’s Nick Orlandino.

Novelty Company of the Year will be presented to California Exotic Novelties for their many years as a leader in the pleasure products sector, and for their continued innovation, high standards and ethics.

Retailer of the Year will be presented to the Lions’ Den chain of adult stores for many years as a leading retailer of adult products, innovative marketing and ethical standards for customer service.

Production Company of the Year goes to gay studio Hothouse Entertainment. Founded by Hall of Fame director Steven Scarborough, Hothouse exemplifies creative innovation, high standards and ethical conduct.

Internet Company of the Year will be presented to Gamelink. The award recognizes excellence, innovation and contributions made to the adult industry overall.

Benefactor of the Year has been awarded to Wicked Pictures. The recognition is for unwavering support, through philanthropy and advocacy, of adult industry and mainstream causes. As well as setting a good example, the company also has diligently attempted to protect the adult industry business community from legal challenges, business risks and critics.

Finally, the Leadership Award – to be presented at the XBIZ Awards gala on January 24 – is given to an individual or individuals that have demonstrated leadership by example. This year’s award will be presented to performer Nina Hartley and director Ernest Greene for their outstanding work in advocacy, education and community service.

The FSC Awards presentation will be held at 6pm, on January 22, at the W Hotel in Hollywood, CA, in conjunction with the FSC Summit and XBIZ 360 conference. For more information on these events, contact info@freespeechcoalition.com or (818) 348-9373.

 


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

07885700128

or press@freespeechcoalition.com.


ADULT PRODUCTION MORATORIUM LIFTED

December 12, 2013

Final Test Results Come Up Negative; Performers May Return to Work After Retesting

The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) and the Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS) announced today that all first-generation partners of the the performer who tested positive last week have been completed. There have been no further positive HIV tests within the performer pool. Production can resume on December 13.

The last at-risk interaction between the performer who tested positive and another performer occurred three weeks ago, on November 21. The testing window for the RNA-Aptima HIV test is 7-10 days. PASS doctors have since tested and retested that performer’s first generation contacts in the performer pool, on-set and off. None generated a positive test for HIV.

As previously announced, all performers must have retested in the PASS system on or after December 5  in order to be cleared to return to work. December 5 is fourteen days after the last at-risk interaction between the positive performer and any member of the performer pool, and beyond the 7-10 day window for the RNA-Aptima HIV test.

“While we understand that a moratorium is difficult for both performers and producers, it’s important that we’re cautious when dealing with HIV,” said Diane Duke, head of the Free Speech Coalition. “For nearly a decade, the combination of moratoriums and testing have been successful at preventing HIV transmission in the adult workplace. However, we must be always vigilant, and work to improve that record.”

The current moratorium was called on December 6, after an adult film performer came up HIV positive during a routine screening. Production was immediately halted while “first generation” contacts (those who had contact with the positive performer that could potentially transmit the virus) were tested. Adult performers are tested every fourteen days for a slate of STIs, including HIV.

Moratoriums are one of the most effective tools we have to protect adult performers, and allow us to stop HIV at the industry gates. We thank the performers and producers for observing the moratorium, and the performer who worked so closely with PASS to identify at-risk partners.

More on adult testing protocols and information on how moratoriums are determined can be found at FreeSpeechCoalition.com


Performer Testing Update #2

December 10, 2013

We spoke with the PASS testing facility doctors this morning, and want to issue an update on the current moratorium and testings.

Currently, all people who have had at-risk contact with the positive performer have been retested with the RNA Aptima test. At this point, we are awaiting one final test result from a performer who went to a personal physician whose testing system does not have as swift a turnaround time as industry clinics. If the results of that final are clear, we will establish a date to lift the moratorium. Until then, it remains in place.

A moratorium is only lifted after it is clear there is no threat of transmission.  Only after a genealogy of the virus is established, and all sexual partners have been tested, do the FSC and PASS receive clearance to allow performers to resume shooting.

If the final test comes back negative, FSC and PASS will set two dates: a date on which production can resume, and the date after which performers must show a negative test in order to be able to work. While we can not yet offer the former, we can announce the later: all performers must have a test dated December 5, 2013 or after in order to be cleared to work.

The HIV RNA Aptima test used by PASS has a 7-10 day window, meaning that it can identify HIV within 7-10 days of transmission. We wait at least 14 days after any possible exposure before lifting the moratorium for added accuracy, and to make sure that nothing was missed. The December 5 date is two weeks after the performer’s last at-risk contact with a member of the performer pool, on November 21.

The HIV RNA Aptima test is the most accurate test available. Because of its specificity and sensitivity a false positive (where a performer tests positive for HIV, but does not actually have it) will occur from time to time.  We have never encountered a false negative.

We only lift the moratorium if there is no medical reason for it to be extended. While most studios stockpile films and can weather a longer moratorium, individual performers often have to contend with a direct loss of income once shooting stops. We know this has been a difficult time for performers, both emotionally and financially. But we will lift the moratorium only when PASS doctors, using protocols outlined above, determine a safe date for production to resume.

We expect to have the results of that final test in the next few days. We will let you know as soon as we hear the results.


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