Thursday, September 6, 2007

ACLU Scores Victory In New York

According to Yahoo! News & the AP:
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers."
For those of us who still give a damn about our inalienable rights this is a reason to say, "Hip Hip Whore-Ay!"

More at Reuters.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Selling Sex, Even Where It's Not Legal

Naturally, Copywrite Ink's post. Selling Sex: Nevada Brothels, caught my eye.
What is Coyote Publishing et. al. v. Heller? It is a lawsuit filed by Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada on behalf of several newspapers, that sought to void two state statutes that prohibited brothel advertising in counties where prostitution is illegal.

...this new ruling, which I have yet to form an opinion about, seems to suggest legal businesses have a right to advertise even where their products or services are illegal.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lee Still Awaiting Trial

Gordon Lee, of Gordon Lee's comic shop in Georgia, is scheduled to finally see trial this August.

Lee was busted during Halloween week 2004 for inadvertently passing out at copy of Alternative Comics #2 to a minor. It was one copy out of thousands the shop distributed as part of the town's trick-or-treat event.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

One To Watch

Fleshbot covers the story (NWS), so I'll just direct you there. But I wanted all you adult business folks to note that the Feds have a 10-count indictment against Max Hardcore (nee Paul Little) for obscenity. It's in U.S. District Court, Tampa Division (Florida), so this is shakier than if in L.A.

Hardcore says, "I've never heard of anyone, even a store owner getting busted for obscenity."

I'm no legal expert, and I can't site all the facts and stats, but I know there's a history in publishing which has ruined many a company. (And if the ruling doesn't kill you, the legal fees may.)

So keep your eyes on this one, folks.

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Friday, May 4, 2007

Your Information At Risk

I received this heads-up and I'm posting this everywhere:

Most people are probably not aware of something our Federal government is trying to pass - the requirement of something they are calling REAL ID. This is an attempt to install a National ID system - something that has been found to be unconstitutional by law previously.

Under the Act, states and federal government would share access to a vast national database that could include images of birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce papers, court ordered
separations, medical records, and detailed information on the name, date of birth, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, address, telephone, e-mail address, Social Security Number for more than 240 million with no requirements or controls on how this database might be used. Many
may not have the documents required to obtain a REAL ID, or they may face added requirements base on arbitrary and capricious decisions made by DMV employees.

You can leave comments against this act until MAY 8 - and it's VERY important that you do so! (it's not super easy to do, but it's definitely worth it) You can learn how to speak out against it, and also learn more details about it here.

Please pass on to everyone you know, as most people have no idea that this is under consideration, and likely to pass quietly unless there is opposition.

You should also note: "This is the same federal agency that had responsibility for helping people following hurricane Katrina, and proved itself not to be ready for the challenge. Creating a national identification system is a huge, complex project and there no agency in the Federal government that has proven that it could manage a project of this magnitude."

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Adult Business News

Canadian prostitutes launched a constitutional challenge to overturn criminal laws governing the sex trade, arguing existing restrictions put their lives at risk.

In the UK, lap dancers are to pay VAT (taxes for those dancers who earn more than £64,000 a year).

And another article on the blocked Child Online Protection Act, this one from CNET News has more coverage of history too. (Can you tell I'm excited about this? Thanks to Slip of a Girl and her reader, Bill, for the link.)

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Child Online Protection Act Struck Down

A judge, Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr, has struck down the Child Online Protection Act.

Citing it's vagueness and First Amendment unconstitutionality, Reed said:
"Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection."
He also (accurately in my opinion) stated that a greater threat are child predators who directly affect the welfare of children's lives as opposed to the 'possibility' of seeing explicit sexuality and that parents have the responsibility to control their computer and their children rather than putting the government in charge of controlling freedom of expression & businesses.

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Friday, March 9, 2007

What Are Your Rights As A Blogger Or Webmaster?

We had a server snafu early yesterday morning, so I am a bit off schedule right now. While I have nothing to do with the tech aspects of running my sites (other than alerting the techie to problems, noting fixes and making demands for new toys or tweaks to the sites), it's amazing how much this problem affected other areas of my life.

You can joke about being an Internet addict, and I may in fact be one, but when you work on the Internet and you can't access everything per usual, you tend to go nuts. And the fact that I can't bother a man knee-deep in whatever it is techies get knee-deep in while he's cleaning up messy server issues to go and tweak the design of a new site I'm working on, well my whole itinerary for the day was shot.

The bottom line: today's intended post must be delayed. But I will tell you what it was about, so that you may anticipate what's to come...

I'm starting a new blog project, this time with a group of contributors with whom I have never worked before. (Don't worry, you'll get a name and a link soon enough.) Since it's new, it brings up key points for blogging and marketing which I know many of you are interested in ~ like link exchanges, design, theme, organization of participating authors, niche etc. So rest assured we'll be getting to all that. It will sort of be like a 'making of' ~ not step-by-step, but at least point-by-point. (I hope.)

Meanwhile, while awaiting a few tweaks from the techie, feel free to:

* Send in your questions

* Read the following pieces regarding bloggers' rights, copyright issues and ethics:

Blogger chased away Disney advertisers and The Mouse retaliates by paying a law firm to intimidate him and his ISP. What are you prepared for?

It's my blog and I'll bitch if I want to. What would you do?

(And if you have not already subscribed to the Marketing Whore Newsletter, what on earth are you waiting for? You've already missed great subscriber only offers!)

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Common Sense and Legal Protection Too?

For those who worry and wonder about those pragmatic issues of child safety on the Internet and how culpable you may be especially regarding community issues...

MySpace had its first major victory in a civil lawsuit, when a federal judge in Texas tossed a case brought by the family of a teen, "Julie Doe," who alleged she was sexually abused by someone she met on the site.

"If anyone had a duty to protect Julie Doe, it was her parents, not MySpace," wrote judge Sam Sparks as he dismissed the case.

At least this one court sees things properly. Maybe the supreme court agrees as well. Common sense may be alive after all.

For more on legal matters regarding adult webmasters & child access on the Internet, see my interview with Attorney Walters.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

An Interview with Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.

Larry Walters is a First Amendment attorney, and one of the elite handful of lawyers who defend those in the adult entertainment business. His law firm clients include: adult webmasters, those with free & pay sites; performers & escorts with websites or who use the internet for promotional reasons; those who run gambling sites; & those who create &/or control content & are concerned about everything from copyright protection to obscenity concerns.

In short ~ if you're in the adult business world, on the internet & in the USA, pay attention!

Larry Walters has developed the Birth Date Verifier as a way for adult webmasters to protect themselves in the current political climate. Recently I discussed with him the significance of the Birth Date Verifier....

Please explain the difference between the Birth Date Verifier & an AVS.

An AVS typically offers a payment system, whereby users are age verified by providing a credit card or other payment information, and then given access to a group of sites served by the AVS. The BDV is a combination of a software device and a legal age disclaimer, which when used together, generate a sworn statement of age which is verified by the system to determine whether the user is over the age of 18 on the current date. If so, the user is allowed access to the site. If not, the user is blocked from entering the site or any of its age protected material. The BDV requires no payment, and asks for no personal information other than a name (or even initials) and a birth date.

Why is the Birth Date Verifier is "superior " to the "I'm over 18" click method? Does your method offer greater legal protection?

The 18+ disclaimers are perceived as a national joke by parents, prosecutors and the courts, and easily bypassed with no consequences. No age information is provided when accessing through such pages, and no 'verification' takes place.

The BDV uses a combination of the federal Declarations Act and the E-SIGN legislation to generate the equivalent of an online affidavit that is submitted by the user, verified by the system, and used to determine access rights. If a user were to lie, and include a false birth date, he/she may be granted access, but it would only be by committing a federal offense. People can get away with all kinds of things if they're willing to commit crimes.

When weighing who is at fault, we believe that the courts would side with the webmaster who has taken appropriate steps to verify age given current technology, as opposed to a user who is willing to commit the federal felony of perjury to gain access to the site. This is similar to the clerk who sells tobacco to a minor with a fake ID.

No age check system is perfect, by any means, and neither is the BDV. However, the federal law relating on online age verification, COPA, includes a specific affirmative defense which allows webmasters to use "any other reasonable measures that are feasible under available technology" to verify age. Until devices such as finger print pads or retina scans become commonplace, the BDV should qualify as such a 'reasonable measure'.

What sites, in your opinion, are most in need of such a device?

Free sites, to be sure, will benefit the most by this device. Since most pay sites use credit cards to verify age, free sites are left with little or no option besides the BDV, since they do not charge for their services.

Moreover, the Credit Card companies do not want their cards being used for age verification, and Visa specifically prohibits it. Therefore, even if credit cards are partially relied upon for age verification, the BDV is an excellent secondary check for users.

It should also be noted that various other forms of payment are routinely accepted by pay sites, such as online checks or 900 numbers. The BDV can be successfully incorporated into the payment process when using these alternate payment methods, to ensure that some form of age verification has occurred.

If the adult site is a free site, not a paid memberships site with protected content areas, will this method work well? Given traffic from Google etc..

Our clients have found ways to successfully incorporate the BDV into free sites, or free areas, without sacrificing much search engine optimization. For example, free tours can remain outside the BDV block, so long as they are age appropriate. This will allow the search engines to pick up the free pages, and index them accordingly. However, it should be noted that implementation of the BDV (or any other effective age verification tool) may negatively impact traffic or other marketing.

Every webmaster must make a decision whether the additional legal protection is worth some potential impact on profits. Our clients generally prefer to play it safe, even if it means less revenue. However, when implemented correctly, the BDV will not significantly impact the site's profitability or recognition.

What is the cost for the Birth Date Verifier? How does a webmaster qualify for the device?

We provide the device free of charge to our clients. If an interested webmaster wants to obtain the device without becoming a client for some reason, we have made the device available on a monthly subscription basis.

This decision is made on a case by case basis, and we must approve the sites on which the device will be used, particularly by non-clients. AVS companies are not allowed to use the device. The cost of the subscription will vary depending on the needs of the client, but starts at less than $1500 per year.

How difficult is this to install upon a website?

It is extremely simple. The device is provided in ASP, PHP, CGI and Cold Fusion versions. We've never had any reports of problems installing the device, but we offer technical assistance to those who need it, at no additional cost.

Please explain what real dangers you see to adult webmasters in the USA given the current political climate. Are you concerned? Or is all the 'talk' alarmist behavior?

For years, I have preached the benefits of age verification, whether legally required or not. Having handled obscenity cases for over a decade, I've found the common theme the government tries to incorporate is access by minors. The prosecution always tries to work in to the case, some evidence of kids getting access to the materials, even if not required to prove their case.

In the very first obscenity case I handled in 1989, I defended a video store who sold a tape to a 17 year old undercover agent, who had a beard and looked 25. This made the case tougher to defend, although we obtained a mistrial. I also defended an online obscenity case where the government argued that teenagers in the neighborhood were given passwords to the site that was allegedly obscene. None of this was relevant to the obscenity issue, but they like to smear the defendant, and argue 'even your kids can get access to this stuff' to the jury. Ironically, the BDV would have been useful in that case, even if the teenagers had obtained passwords, since they would have had to perjure themselves in order to get access to the site with the stolen passwords.

I see the current threatened crackdown as a serious threat. The Senate is trying to generate evidence that porn is an addictive drug, for which there is no cure. The Attorney General has publicly committed to prosecute obscenity. There have been House Resolutions encouraging obscenity prosecutions, and the religious right is clamoring for payback, after Bush's re-election.

The game, now, is for each webmaster to make them self the least attractive target, while still competing for business. Implementing something like the BDV will assist in reducing a webmaster's exposure, while at the same time, help in keeping inappropriate material away from kids.

For more information on the BDV, visit www.BirthDateVerifier.com.

For more intormation on Lawrence G. Walters & his law firm, visit www.FirstAmendment.com.

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