Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2257

Well, for those who don't know, the new 2257 regulations came through. I should explain - 2257 is the body of law that involves record keeping for naughty photos, video, etc. In theory it's anti-child porn. Specifically it's to make things easier for the feds to prosecute because you have to keep extremely specific records and if you don't they can put you in prison for 5 years - for the record keeping violation alone - it doesn't matter if it turns out there was no child involved.

And it's not just ID. Like most sensible people I copy the model's ID, have them sign things saying they're an adult, etc. But that doesn't cover it. You have to have all aliases the performer's ever used (including maiden name) and everything has to be by itself with no other records mixed in and indexed a certain way blah blah blah. It has to be accessible 20 hours a week so the feds can drop by to inspect your records without making an appointment. No hours posted? Not there when they show up? You're in violation.

This law's been around since the mid 90s (Clinton era) and it was amended to make it stronger a couple of years ago. Since there were various court challenges to the old law the DOJ was slow to publish the actual regulations that implement the law... until the other day. You have 30 days to comply if you shoot actual porn, and 90 days if you fall into another category.

"But Doug, you don't shoot porn, what's the problem"

That other category is "lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area". Note that the shots don't have to be nude - shoot a gal in a swimsuit with her legs a bit too open and a sultry expression on her face and you've triggered the record keeping requirement even if she's 30. Now, I know my work isn't lascivious, and you know my work isn't lascivious, but does a jury know my work isn't lascivious?" So like many artists (and there's no exemption for art) I'm thinking that even though I think I'm exempt keeping the records as a CYA move is prudent.

The one bit of good news is that they now allow you to hire somebody to keep your records for you. So if you don't have a real place of business with regular hours (like, say, an artist) you can hire somebody. And hopefully by mid-March when this second category cuts in these people will exist and will have a care package with some forms and things to have the models fill out and if you send everything in you're covered. Hopefully it won't be too expensive.

One other bit of good news is that it applies only to work produced after that date, so it's not like I have to re-index everything from the past and try to get everybody's aliases, etc. It is a good thing that I can prove these were all produced before the effective date of course.

One other odditiy is that the nature of the IDs are regulated. For a US photographer shooting in the US the model's ID has to be US issued. Traveling nude model from the UK? Sorry, you can't shoot nudes here, even just for fun. Quite a few gals on this site are vacationing or here on student visas and doing a shoot just for fun, so that's going to be an issue.

And remember - it's not a defense that the model's actually 35 - what they're finding you guilty of is a recordkeeping violation, not child porn.

Anyway, it's a mess. Hopefully it will get thrown out at some point but nobody wants to be the test case and the guy with the worst records loses. Unfortunately Obama's new DA has made statements that he wants to nail a bunch of little guys on this (who can't afford to defend themselves) so that he can build a body of precedent to use against the big guys.

If that surprises anybody - I don't want to get too political here - but the religious right is anti-nudity/porn/fun because of the religious part, but the far left is just as bad they just get there from a different direction. (nanny state/women are helpless and need to be protected/nudity and porn are oppressing women) So basically it's of no consequence to me who's in power - this stuff always passes with huge bipartisan votes. As long as they keep claiming it's for the children (it isn't) nobody's voting against it.

I'm not a lawyer and even the lawyers are still sifting through the 150 page regulations. But if you're a photographer in the US or who does business in the US get your butt on some photographer forums and see if you can figure out if you need to comply. Remember - nudity isn't required so it's probably more of you than you might think. I know a lot of people who do clothed fetish photography are freaking out as it's sinking in that the fall under this as well.

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