Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fighting Over Online Sex Ads

What if the price of having a vital, well-financed string of newspapers included rare, but inevitable, sexual predation of minors?

Not a tough call, right? But maybe more complicated than you think for the businesses involved.
Before you head out for the lanterns and pitchforks, it’s worth remembering that a free press is not free. One of the offshoots of free speech is that it will be used to pernicious ends. In this instance, Village Voice Media has a classified network called Backpage.com that includes a section labeled “adult” with categories like “escort” and “strippers & strip clubs.” The vast majority of ads involves one consenting adult seeking another, but there have been instances in which the section was used to offer minors for sexual ends.
Village Voice Media is controlled by Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, whose weeklies include The Village Voice, Westword and Phoenix New Times. It has an anything-goes approach to advertising, but in a digital age, that policy has new implications.
In September 2010, Craigslist, which hosted a great deal of sexually related advertising, bowed to pressure and banned that advertising in the United States. A number of crimes, including several murders, had been linked to ads on the site, and many critics, including a number of state attorneys general, suggested that Craigslist was enabling the trafficking of minors.
A significant portion of the estimated $44 million in sex-related advertising on Craigslist found a home on Backpage.com. Like a lot of newspapers, Village Voice Media’s chain of 13 weeklies has struggled through the terrible economic cycle and big changes in advertising spending, so the revenue from Backpage.com, much of it unrelated to sex, has played a critical role in its survival.
But in August the country’s 51 attorneys general sent a letter demanding that the site close its “adult” section, and now a coalition of religious leaders has joined that effort. Last Tuesday, Groundswell, an interfaith social justice group sponsored by Auburn Seminary in New York, published a full-page ad in The New York Times that was signed by clergy members of all stripes and cited the arrests of adults who had sold minors for sex using Backpage.com. The ad stated, “It is a basic fact of the moral universe that girls and boys should not be sold for sex.”
“While we empathize with your business challenges and the increasingly difficult marketplace in which Village Voice Media competes,” the letter went on, “we trust that you are committed to running your business without compromising the lives of our nation’s boys and girls.”
The Rev. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, the president of Auburn Theological Seminary, said that while the issue was complicated, the bottom line was not.
“On Backpage.com, you can buy a toaster, a car or a girl for sex,” she said. “We agree with the attorney generals on the legal issues, but we are raising this as a moral issue. Even if one minor is sold for sex, it is one too many.”
Mr. Larkin and Mr. Lacey are accustomed to having people come after them. They were harassed and arrested in the middle of the night in response to the coverage by one of their newspapers of Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz. Mr. Lacey, who has made a career out of tweaking the powers that be, sees this battle as no different.
“I am beginning to like our odds,” he said. “We have all these practicing politicians and concerned clergy after us. We must be doing something right.”
In a phone call, he and Mr. Larkin pointed out that Web sites like Backpage.com are not legally responsible for posted content and added that the company had spent millions on both human and technological efforts to screen ads that feature minors. They said they had worked with law enforcement officials and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in an effort to make sure Backpage.com’s “adult” section included only adults.
Both men see the debate as a free speech issue.
“We have always had a very libertarian approach to advertising,” said Mr. Larkin, adding that classifieds represented 30 to 35 percent of their business. “We don’t ban cigarettes, we take adult advertising. We take ads that sell guns.”
From their perspective, the claims of their opponents are wildly exaggerated and all the money being spent trying to wipe out advertising would be better spent on the root causes of the problem, including drug addiction, poverty and family abuse.
“There is a lot of mythmaking around the issue and I think it’s a way of avoiding the real problem,” Mr. Lacey said.
Rob McKenna, the attorney general of Washington State and the head of the association of attorneys general that went after both Craigslist and now Backpage.com, says the issue goes beyond minors.
“I think we have to be careful to protect the First Amendment rights of publishers, but free speech does not extend to the knowing facilitation of criminal activity,” he said. “This is not just about children being prostituted, this is about human beings being trafficked into the sex trades, as adults and as children.”
It’s no news to anyone that sex is an integral component of the Internet and much of the mainstream media. Early on, AOL included lots of raunchy backrooms. The brand-name cable channels make a great deal of money on sexually explicit content, and if someone is looking to buy sex, there are any number of Web sites that cater to all manner of interests.
It’s worth remembering that while pressure from the attorneys general and Congress led to a change at Craigslist, the whack-a-mole on the Web continues. If Backpage.comretreats — not likely given the predispositions of its owners — some other alternative will immediately take its place.
It reminds me a great deal of the early 1990s, when I was the editor of The Twin Cities Reader, an alternative weekly in Minneapolis. At the time, we were under fire for publishing ads for strip clubs, escort services and massage parlors. The staff and the publisher at the time, R. T. Rybak, were keenly attuned to the community and always looking for points of difference from City Pages, our weekly competitor. With support from the staff, Mr. Rybak announced that we would no longer take ads that “objectified” women, a bold move. It was thought that beyond the good will we earned in the community, other, nonracy advertisers might find our paper to be a more suitable platform.
Our critics, including many women’s groups, were thrilled at their victory and congratulated us on our sensitivity. The policy went into effect, wiping out, as I recall, about 15 percent of the bottom line. City Pages left its ad policy unchanged. Some of what we lost went to them and little in the way of new ads materialized to fill the hole.
City Pages eventually became the dominant paper — in part because it was very good and run by smart people — and when, yes, Village Voice Media decided to enter the market, it bought both papers and closed The Twin Cities Reader. I was gone by then, but I thought the decision to be selective about ads contributed to its demise.
I called Mr. Rybak, who is now the mayor of Minneapolis, to ask if he regretted the decision.
“It was absolutely the right move,” he said. “When you engage in a certain kind of journalism that is designed to be an alternative to the mainstream, you have a special obligation to have your editorial, your values and your advertising align.”
“If we had more time, I think it may have worked out,” he said. “But I often think about what would have happened if we had those two pages of ads in the back. Would the paper still be around? It wasn’t the only reason it went out of business, but it played a role.”
Although Mr. Larkin and Mr. Lacey hardly agree, they are taking their own version of a principled stand. And just because it aligns with their business interests doesn’t mean it isn’t valid.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Connecticut Prisoners Protesting ‘Unfair’ Porn Ban

Prisoner

Porn.xxx Domain Expected To Fetch $50,000 At Auction

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After more than ten years of very vocal opposition by nearly every company potentially affected by the new .XXX top level domain (TLD) extension, on March 17th 2011 ICANN approved .XXX despite numerous concerns. Chief among those concerned was a prevailing consensus that the creation of the .XXX domain was an simply an underhanded attempt at a money-grab by ICM Registry, the backers and owners of the new domains. Now, the truth of that concern is finally coming to light. .XXX History And Widespread Opposition The theory that ICM Registry [1] would use their new .XXX domains to fleece owners of existing .com domains has become commonplace. The addition of a new extension with no other redeeming value according to opponents, serves solely as an attempt by ICM Registry to extort large sums of money from companies interested in protecting the purity of their existing brand names. Primary domains like Sex.xxx, XXX.xxx ,Porn.xxx, Hustler.xxx, Playboy.xxx and others were thought to be the most likely targets. Several leading companies from all facets of the adult entertainment industry banded together to take part in the creation of DotxxxOpposition.com, a news resource and community forum backed by the Free Speech Coalition and many industry insiders. The site hosts a parody style video that satires the efforts of ICM Registery and stars Larry Flynt (Huster CEO), Allison Vivas (PinkVisual CEO), John Stagliano (Evil Angel CEO), Joanna Angel (BurningAngel.com), Ron Cadwell (CCBill CEO), Peter Acworth (Kink CEO), Mitch Farber (Netbilling CEO), and a host of other adult industry leaders. The film was written directed and produced by Wasteland.com CEO Colin Rowntree. [2] Industry communication among online message boards and trade shows has also been decidedly against the creation of .XXX, and ICANN itself stated serious concerns that lead to a denial initially and a half-hearted approval eventually. "Upon first blush, a .xxx sTLD sounds like a brilliant idea. But once one factors in the real world implications of such an easily blocked, censored, marginalized, and manipulated domain suffix, it becomes far less appealing" according to DotxxxOpposition.com "When a business with no ties to the online adult entertainment industry decides to “protect” it by cornering the market, aggressively pushing for the domain, rewriting history, treating our representatives and press with marginal respect, brushing our concerns aside, charging $60 per registration — and telling us we’re lucky that the price is that low — even beer goggles don’t make it look kissable. For these and other reasons, we believe that, in spite of panicked domain preregistrations, the voice of the industry is soundly raised in opposition to what would ultimately become Stuart Lawley and the ICM Registry’s company store." Limited Market And Curtailed Reach As if the opposition to .XXX from within the industry it seeks to consolidate was not enough of a headwind for ICM Registry to overcome, major regions of the world including India and the Middle East immediately stated their intention to block all .xxx domains when word of their approval by ICANN was announced. According to a report published by The Economic Times: "India along with many other countries from the Middle East and Indonesia opposed the grant of the domain in the first place, and we would proceed to block the whole domain, as it goes against the IT Act and Indian laws," said a senior official at the ministry of IT. "Though some people have said that segregation is better, and some countries allow it. But for other nations transmission and direct distribution of such content goes against their moral and culture." [3] Michael Humphrey of Forbes.com also picked up on the myriad of economic problems that would unnecessarily be caused by the release of .XXX stemming from exorbitant domain registration fees, ghettoizing of adult content chilling free speech, and he concluded " Whatever your stance on porn might be, you can see why the industry thinks those “x’s” look more like a mark than a market." [4] Domain Pricing Expectations While ICM Registry has already set the wholesale price for 'standard' .xxx domains at approximately $60 per year, with markup charged by each associated domain provider at the consumer level expected to bring prices up to the $200-300 dollar range for newly purchased domains, ICM Registry has also chosen to hold back a large number of 'premium' .xxx domains in the hope of generating much higher selling prices at auction. It should be noted that much of the intrinsic value of some of these domains can be directly attributed to the fact that the underlying .com version of the same keyword has already been used in the marketplace successfully for years. In that way a strong legal argument exists regarding copyright infringement if companies decide to litigate rather than capitulate when acquiring the '.xxx version' of their own existing brand names. While the windfall profits may fall far below the desires of ICM Registry, the costs projected still make litigating appear to be inexpensive in contrast to purchasing premium domain names that may be garnered easily via court order instead. According to EllitotsBlog.com, a leading community of domain speculators, a poll recently posted asked what price domainers believe movies.xxx may bring as part of the auction at an upcoming TRAFFIC trade show. Two telling facts can be taken from the poll. On the one hand, the lowest option listed by editors was 'Under $50,000', creating a bias within the results of at least a five figure sale price. The other fact is that more than 40% of respondents at the time of this writing have made 'Under $50,000' the clear winner, with almost twice as many votes as any other price bracket. [5] Approval of Many More Top Level Domains When the initial ICANN ruling authorizing .xxx domains was announced, many onlookers were shocked by the decision. The 16 member panel had seemingly allowed the creation of .xxx in direct conflict with the industry most affected by it and opened what some believe to be a Pandora's box of free speech problems in the process. Two months later, on May 30th 2011 ICANN may have expressed it's reasoning through its own action in a way much more profound than any of the earlier rhetoric. A major barrier to completely revising the way the internet is managed was forever discarded by a 13 to 3 vote in favor of introducing an unlimited number of new top-level domains to compete with .com, .net and .xxx. The new process requires a $180,000 application fee and a fair amount of bureaucratic red tape, but for the first time it sets a clear path for anyone interested in creating their own new TLD quickly. For the mainstream market this means a company like Disney may soon own the TLD .kids or a company like Dreamworks might choose to create a .Movies extension. However, for the adult industry and .xxx specifically, the impact may be much more immediate and profound. If the price of creating the entire .Sex or .Hardcore TLD is only $180,000 and includes every domain name under a comparable adult TLD extension, why would any company choose to spend more than that amount seeking to secure the .xxx version of their own .com domain from ICM Registry? It is a question that domainers seem to be answering with the silence of their checkbooks. Analysis And Summary After a decade of battle to bring .XXX through the ICANN process and millions of dollars in expenses, ICM Registry may be left holding the bag on an entire set of domain names that lose value as each day passes. "We can unequivocally say that the industry does not support it," said Diane Duke, the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, at a press conference covered by PCMag.com during a formal protest attended by many top industry executives during ICANN deliberations. [6] The fact that seems to have eluded ICM Registry is that the number of companies willing to explore business opportunities in the adult entertainment market has always been very limited. Most so-called mainstream companies won't even purchase traffic from massive adult sites or allow their affiliate program traffic partners to use explicit content to generate sales. With such a small list of potential buyers to begin with, the systematic efforts of ICM Registry to confound industry insiders and overlook industry concerns may have poisoned the well before .xxx ever had a chance to take root. Resource Links & Sources This Op-Ed by Stewart Tongue is based on information from private discussions with industry professionals, domainers and numerous credible resources. Some of the more prominent resources are linked below for your conevenience. [1] http://www.icmregistry.com/ [2] http://dotxxxopposition.com/ [3] http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-03-24/news/29181495_1_new-d... [4] http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhumphrey/2011/03/24/indias-reaction-to-xxx... [5] http://www.elliotsblog.com/at-what-price-will-movies-xxx-sell-8475 [6] http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2382185,00.asp#fbid=0CPO3-xA6az Stewart Tongue is a writer and professional SEO marketing consultant for leading adult entertainment industry brands. His work also includes a consistent focus on the ethics of online commerce. He owns and operates a network of more than 700 active websites.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

This Week's Posts on Xbiz

Google launched a new tool that will allow webmasters to track in real time how many people are currently on their site.

Google launched a new tool that will allow webmasters to track in real time how many people are currently on their site.

I have a policy: FSC does not give awards to standing board members. To the outside world it would seem a conflict of interest and somewhat self-serving. However, in this milestone year for FSC I thought it not only appropriate, but also necessary to say a few words about a man who is significantly responsible for FSC’s success — FSC Chairman of the Board Jeffrey Douglas.

The inaugural XBIZ EU international digital media conference this past weekend was a resounding success, with many top industry execs praising organizers for large turnouts to its seminars and events.

Two proprietors of “live adult entertainment for cash-paying customers” could get jail time for cheating the IRS.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Porn Industry Featured in LA Weekly

LOS ANGELES — The adult industry is getting some mainstream attention, with a lengthyarticle in this week’s LA Weekly.

A brunette performer in a bikini graces the front cover of the magazine and inside is an in-depth profile of the adult industry titled “Porn Defends the Money Shot.”

The five-page article talks about several topics that are impacting the adult industry today such as the success of adult parodies, the ongoing campaign by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to enforce condoms on production sets to prevent HIV infections and where Cal/OSHA stands on the issue.

The article also interviewed several adult industry stakeholders such as director Axel Braun, AHF President Michael Weinstein, FSC attorney Jeffrey Douglas, performer Tom Byron and others to get their take on condoms in porn.

“We’re selling a fantasy,” Braun said. “If you make something illegal that has so much demand, you’re going to send it underground. You’re going to have people not getting tested anymore. I don’t think it’s the right approach.”

The article talked about how many porn performers engage in escorting, an activity that can be risky especially if the performer continues to work on adult productions.

“The dirty secret of porn isn’t crossover,” Weinstein said. “It’s taking escorting jobs.”

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Behind Closed Doors: An Analysis of Indoor Sex Work in New York City

Urban Justice Center
666 Broadway, 10th floor, New York, NY 10012
Tel: (646) 602-5617 - Fax: (212) 533-4598

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: Contact: Juhu Thukral (646) 602-5690 jthukral@urbanjustice.org
Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Juhu Thukral (646) 602-5690 jthukral@urbanjustice.org Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Indoor Sex Workers Are Isolated and Fear Violence
Urban Justice Center Interviews U.S.-Born and Immigrant Sex Workers About Police Contacts

(New York City, March 30, 2005) - The Sex Workers Project (SWP) of the Urban Justice Center (UJC) has released the first-ever in-depth report in the U.S. examining indoor sex work. Behind Closed Doors: An Analysis of Indoor Sex Work in New York City, released today, includes interviews with sex workers who work independently or for brothels, escort agencies, dungeons, and private clubs. The report highlights the extreme violence that sex workers experience from customers, and the dangerous effects of isolation and stigma.

According to the report, 46% of sex workers experienced violence in the course of their work, and 42% had been threatened or beaten for being a sex worker. Additionally, 14% reported violence at the hands of the police, and 16% encountered sexual situations with the police. Sara, a respondent in the report, describes a client "who came in and had a knife ... I was cornered and I was about to be attacked and raped ... I didn't go to the police because it would be coming out about what I've been doing." "Many people are unsympathetic to prostitutes," says Juhu Thukral, Director of the SWP, "however, this level of violence is unacceptable, even if they are engaging in unlawful activity."

Leticia, another respondent, adds, "Just find a way to help us with the police ... we need somebody to protect us when we get beat up. Around here, they don't arrest you, they just mess with you like they own you."

Eight percent of the report's respondents were trafficked into the country for prostitution. The trafficked women told of being threatened, beaten, raped, and having their money withheld by the traffickers. The respondents were ethnically diverse and included women, transgender women, and men. Sex workers interviewed ranged in age from 19 to 54. Forty percent were born outside the U.S. and its territories.

Shockingly, 67% of respondents got involved with sex work because they were unable to find other work which provided a living wage. Previous jobs included waitressing, retail, and domestic work. Immigrants without work permits saw sex work as their best economically viable option. The unlawful nature of most sex work often results in extreme isolation, which serves as a barrier to accessing legal, financial, educational, and other necessary services. Prostitutes explained that they feared arrest and its consequences, and expressed a need for peer support and substantive services.

New York City's quality of life initiatives have always caught prostitutes in their net. However, Thukral stresses that "these police operations result in arrests that destabilize the lives of many sex workers who are members of the working poor, and jeopardize other legal employment." "This activity comes at an extremely high cost to the public, and is a waste of valuable public resources," added Melissa Ditmore, a co-author of the report. "Stringent policing creates an environment of fear and isolation that prevents sex workers from coming forward when they are victims of violence and other crimes."

Thukral aims to have the City do two things: ensure that all violence against sex workers is taken seriously by law enforcement authorities; and offer in-depth and appropriate services that lead to long-term solutions. "There is clearly a need for a fact-based public discussion around the problems of police and violence that include the voices of sex workers themselves in order to effectively and productively address the needs of sex workers and the community's concerns."

The full report can be found at http://www.sexworkersproject.org/ or http://www.urbanjustice.org/.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

January Seraph Discusses Adult Performers Association

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LOS ANGELES — January Seraph, co-founder of the newly formed Adult Performers Association (APA), tells XBIZ that the organization has received a “really warm” reception in its first full week.

“We’ve been getting five to 10 emails a day with people wanting to be involved and to be kept abreast of the things we’re doing,” Seraph said.

A six-year industry veteran performer, producer and webmaster, Seraph started APA with producer/director Nica Noelle in an effort to provide assistance and resources to the adult talent community.

The Bay Area-native said she reconnected with Noelle through Twitter after realizing she was “talking about a lot of the same things that I was.”

“I’ve been joining in the discussion off and on for the last two years but I didn’t feel there was anybody committed to it,” Seraph said. “Nica was all about it though, so we compared ideas and we were pretty much on the same page with our core values.”

Seraph had already been privately compiling a list of “adult performer friendly” resources for some time. But as her concerns grew during the past two HIV scares and the problems caused by the rogue site Porn WikiLeaks, she was moved to act.

“I had the intention of starting a resource site about three years ago,” Seraph said. “I kept hearing stories about other women and the problems they’ve been facing. So we thought this was a really good time to start something like this. I feel that adult performers aren’t represented enough and I think there is a need for it.”

Seraph explained the APA is primarily about “harm reduction” and providing good information.

“We wanted to start something without causing more hatred, without looking like a labor union,” she continued. “We wanted to start just a supportive organization that assists you in how to get into adult, how to get through adult and how to segue out of it when the time comes.”

The APA Contact Form (AdultPerformers.org/contact) is discreet — it asks only for name/email/subject/message — so talent does not have to worry about possible “bullying,” Seraph noted.

She added that APA would soon be launching a KickStarter account to begin developing some educational videos targeting individuals who are thinking about entering adult and exiting the industry.

“It’s really exciting,” Seraph said. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback.”

For more information about the launch, click here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Judge Dismisses Sex Trafficking Suit Against Backpage.com

Judge Dismisses Sex Trafficking Suit Against Backpage.com

MISSOURI—U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas C. Mummert has dismissed a lawsuit brought against Village Voice Media in Sept. 2010 by an unnamed 15-year-old girl who was a victim of sex trafficking through the company's Backpage.com online classified website when she was 14 years old. The woman who pimped the minor out on the site, Latasha Jewell McFarland, pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in December and was sentenced to five years in prison.

The victim held Backpage.com responsible as well, alleging in a four-page complaint that it “had knowledge that: explicit sexual photographs were being posted on its website; that postings on their website were advertisements for prostitution services; that minors were included in these postings for prostitution on its website; that sex trafficking of minors was prolific in the United States of America; and that the internet including their service was being used to advertise illegal sexual services, including child exploitation.” The minor sought $150,000 per alleged violation.

In his dismissal, however, Mummert found that Backpage.com, as an “interactive computer service,” is immune under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for content posted to its site by third parties. The plaintiff made several arguments that attempted to override the immunity, but Mummert found none of them viable.

Indeed, in response to the claim that Backpage should not be immune under § 230 because it "is aware of prior cases of minors being sexually trafficked on its website and based upon the posted ads and photography, no reasonable person could review the postings in the adult categories and deny prostitution was the object of almost each and every ad,” the judge noted a 2007 First Circuit finding that it "is, by now, well established that notice of the unlawful nature of the information provided is not enough to make it the service provider's own speech."

In other words, even if a service provider knows that third parties are posting illegal content, under § 230, the service provider is under no obligation to intervene, and is in fact immunized from being held legally responsible. This immunization held in the earlier Craigslist case as well, in which a sheriff brought suit against the online classified giant for having “the single largest source for prostitution, including child exploitation, in the country.” Regardless of the allegations, § 230 immunized Craigslist, as it does Backpage.com, unless it had created the ads itself.

In conclusion, Judge Mummert wrote, “"Plaintiff artfully and eloquently attempts to phrase her allegations to avoid the reach of (the communications decency act). Those allegations, however, do not distinguish the complained-of actions of Backpage from any other website that posted content that led to an innocent person's injury. Congress has declared such websites to be immune from suits arising from such injuries. It is for Congress to change the policy that gave rise to such immunity."

The Order by Judge Mummert can be accessed here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Untitled

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MESA, Ariz. — GoDaddy, the Internet's largest registrar, has announced pricing for .XXX domain names. .XXX domains acquired through GoDaddy are priced the following: During the Sunrise A period, .XXX domains through GoDaddy will be priced at $209.99 for the non-refundable application fee and first year of domain name registration. Renewals are $99.99 per year. Sunrise A applicants must have either verifiable trademark rights or are owners of exact matching domains in other TLDs. During Sunrise B, created for non-adult industry intellectual property holders, GoDaddy plans on charging $199.99 for the one-time, non-refundable, non-reversible processing fee that blocks the domain name from .XXX registration for 10 years. Sunrise B allows companies to block their domains in the .XXX sTLD. Pricing for Landrush, where there are no qualification requirements, is at $199.99 for the non-refundable application fee and first year of domain name registration. Renewals are $99.99 per year. Landrush is designed for online adult operators but is not on a first-come, first-served basis and applications for competing names will go to a closed-auction at the end of the period. General Availability pricing for GoDaddy .XXX domain names is $99.99 for the first year of domain name registration, with renewals at $99.99 per year. The domain names for General Availability are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ASACP Contributes to ‘Dreamboard’ Child Porn Takedown

WASHINGTON —  The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) was instrumental in the takedown of the online child abuse fan forum Dreamboard, the organization announced today.

The notorious website, called “a nightmare” by those familiar with it, was the subject of a 20-month long investigation, dubbed Operation Delego, which has resulted in charges against 72 people over their involvement with this site, where users shared images of child sexual abuse equivalent to 16,000 DVDs of content.

“ASACP’s CP Reporting Hotline has received a number of complaints in reference to this heinous website,” ASACP executive director Tim Henning said.

“Once confirmed, these ‘Red Flag’ reports were forwarded to our contacts at the Justice Department and elsewhere, in an effort to spur and further the investigation into this criminal enterprise.”

Henning added, “Rarely do we get to discuss the results of our Red Flag investigations. ASACP is proud of the role it played in putting an end to this living ‘nightmare.’”

According to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the website depicted the abuse of infants and young children.

“The members of this criminal network shared a demented dream to create the pre-eminent online community for the promotion of child sexual exploitation,” Holder stated. “But for the children they victimized, this was nothing short of a nightmare.”

U.S. officials are reported to be currently holding at least 43 of those charged in custody; while nine suspects are being held overseas; and a further 20 now being pursued.

Sentences for those convicted of participating in Dreamboard are expected to range from 20 years to life in prison.

ASACP said that since 1996 it has processed more than 600,000 reports of suspected illegal child porn, identifying and quantifying its scope and sources, revealing that the legitimate adult entertainment industry has nothing to do with this material.

Henning said, “Dreamboard illustrates the distinction between lawful companies and criminal enterprises — and underscores the continued importance of ASACP’s mission to protect children on the Internet — a mission which can only continue through the generous support of our sponsors, members and contributors.”

Thursday, August 4, 2011

.XXX: Lawley, Duke to Debate at XBIZ EU London Conference

Xxx

LOS ANGELES — XBIZ is pleased to announce that it has slated a special .XXX debate session at XBIZ EU featuring ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley and Free Speech Coalition's Diane Duke.

The pair will discuss and debate issues relative to ICM's .XXX sponsored top-level domain and its upcoming Sept. 7 launch. The debate is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 23 at 5 p.m.

Lawley, who founded ICM, told XBIZ he plans on discussing the benefits of .XXX domain names, particularly since the debate will be held during the sunrise period when industry members can register their names.

"I am sure the discussion will be lively, and I look forward to making the benefits and new opportunities that .XXX presents crystal clear to the attendees," he said. "With the launch starting on Sept. 7, it is about time we got the chance to publicly debunk the myths and misunderstandings that, in some quarters, surround .XXX, that have been propagated by certain special interest groups leading to unnecessary confusion in the adult webmaster marketplace."

Duke, who leads the adult industry trade group as executive director, told XBIZ that she plans on setting the record straight about .XXX and informing adult businesses about their options now that .XXX domains are rolling out.

"I would like adult businesses to walk away with the understanding that they have options, that they don’t have to give in and throw money at ICM to protect their brand and that purchasing a .XXX TLD could actually do more harm to their business than good," she said.

From Sept. 23-25, XBIZ EU will bring together industry executives from international markets at London’s Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury hotel, for a slate of unparalleled business-networking and deal-making opportunities.

Attendees can also expect three days of cutting-edge educational seminars, engaging technology workshops, special guest keynote presentations designed especially for the European market.

For event information and details, visit XBIZEU.com.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sherriff Hit With Federal Lawsuit

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kimberly Kupps Legal Defense Fund

Notorious Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has declared war on porn! On June 3, 2011, his deputies arrested Kimberly Kupps (Theresa Taylor) and her husband, Warren Taylor, charging them with various obscenity violations relating to the video content appearing on kimberlykupps.com. Judd has promised to go after anyone who "peddles smut" and to be all over them "like a cheap suit." He threatened to lock up adult content producers, and added "...we enjoy that."

Ms. Kupps is a well-known feature entertainer, and she has worked in the adult entertainment industry throughout the country for years, however she and her husband now face serious felony obscenity charges arising from the operation of her website. Polk County Sheriff's deputies spent months 'investigating' the site, and have concluded that her erotic material should be censored. This charge is just the latest in a long pattern of hostility toward any sort of erotic expression by the Sheriff. Important Free Speech rights are at stake in this case.

Kimberly Kupps

Kimberly Kupps needs your help! She does not possess the financial wherewithal to fight the unlimited resources of the State, funded through tax dollars. She has hired Lawrence Walters, Esq., of Walters Law Group, along with Kelley Collier, Esq., an experienced Polk County criminal trial lawyer, to defend her in this case. Although some legal time will be donated to defending this case on a pro bono basis, Ms. Kupps will be required to expend substantial funds on court costs, expert witnesses, and attorneys' fees as the case progresses.

Kimberly has supported Free Speech rights and the erotic entertainment industry for years. She now asks for support from those of you who are in a position to help. Donations, small or large, can be sent to:

Kimberly Kupps Legal Defense Fund
c/o Walters Law Group, Trust Account
195 W. Pine Ave
Longwood, FL 32750-4104
800.530.8137

Credit Card Donations: www.firstamendment.com/billing (reference Client #4751)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

News from the Global Network of Sex Work Projects

The Huffington Post Canada

Stepping Stone, a sex-workers advocacy group in Nova Scotia, has released a series of ads that remind people that sex workers are also someone's mother, daughter or friend.

The ads feature messages such as "I'm proud of my tramp raising two kids on her own" and "I'm glad my prostitute made me finish school."

The National Post interviews Rene Ross

19 Jul 2011
by NSWP

An article in the Vancouver Sun by Charlie Fidelman on the 11 July 2011 explains that a sex worker in Japan  has been diagnosed with a new, mutant strain of gonorrhea. This is alarming because it is a "superbug" which doesn't respond to antibiotic treatment.

13 Jul 2011
by NSWP

A federal appeals court in the United States has ruled that the Government cannot force grantees who are receiving money for HIV programming to denounce and oppose prostitution through the so called 'anti-prostitution pledge'. This ruling only applies to American organisations (working anywhere in the world) not people who receive American funds in other countries. Open Society Institute and Pathfinder International argued that this funding restriction violated their Constitutional rights.

13 Jul 2011
by NSWP

A news story by Ade Mardiyati in the Jakarta Globe on the 5 July 2011 describes how Feraldo “Aldo” Saragi  founded the Indonesia Social Changes Organization (OPSI) and their work to advocate for sex workers and to addresses issues of discrimination and human rights violations.

“The UN made ‘zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero HIV/AIDS-related deaths’ one of their Millennium Development Goals. How can they reach that goal by 2015 if criminalization still occurs?” he asks.

Read more on the Jakarta Globe website http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/lifestyle/bringing-indonesias-sex-workers-out-of-the-shadows/450956.

12 Jul 2011
by NSWP

An extraordinary argument has broken out on Twitter between Ashton Kutcher and the Village Voice in relation to the statistics used in Kutcher's "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign.

More background is provided here and here. Those of you who are online might want to get on over to Twitter and add your voices to those calling for an end to the use of 'junk science' in news and policy making.

1 Jul 2011
by NSWP

Saturday, July 2, 2011

ASACP Names Tim Henning as Executive Director

LOS ANGELES (June 22, 2011) — The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is pleased to announce the appointment of digital forensics expert Tim Henning as its new Executive Director.

Henning, who has been a vital part of the association for the past 15 years, is poised to build on the association’s strengths to continue its adult industry leadership role into the future. Henning will assume his new role effective immediately.

“It was 1996 when ASACP was founded and I began my service to the, at the time, grassroots organization,” Henning stated. “Since then I have seen many evolutions, faced many challenges and it has been my honor to realize the achievement of many goals that have greatly benefitted both child protection efforts, and the online adult entertainment industry.”

“I am very excited to lead ASACP into the future and navigate the challenges that lay ahead while continuing to grow and expand our efforts,” Henning added. “ASACP is something for all of us to be proud of, standing as the world’s only child protection organization funded by the adult entertainment industry.”

“I want to personally thank all who have supported ASACP past, present and future,” Henning concluded. “It is you who have, and will continue to make, the impossible, possible.”

Henning’s first task as ASACP’s Executive Director will be to attend the YNOT Summit in San Francisco, where he will spread the latest news about what the association is doing today to help companies within the adult entertainment industry protect their businesses by helping to protect children from age-inappropriate content on the Internet. As a measure of support, the promoters of the YNOT Summit have underwritten Henning’s attendance.

About ASACP

Founded in 1996, ASACP is a non-profit organization dedicated to online child protection.
ASACP is comprised of two separate corporate entities, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection and the ASACP Foundation. The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. ASACP manages a membership program that provides resources to companies in order to help them protect children online. The ASACP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The ASACP Foundation battles child pornography through its CP Reporting Hotline and helps parents prevent children from viewing age-inappropriate material online with its Restricted To Adults (RTA) website label (www.rtalabel.org). ASACP has invested nearly 15 years in developing progressive programs to protect children, and its relationship in assisting the adult industry’s child protection efforts is unparalleled. For more information, visit www.asacp.org.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Your right to play and the First Amendment

2a-cbldf-first-amendment-image
ACLU of Massachusetts online communications coordinator Danielle Riendeau wrote the following guest blog.

Courts have ruled that the First Amendment protects speech, literature, film, clothing choices and now, video games. Yes, video games--and whether you’re an avid PC gamer, occasional Angry Birds tosser or someone who last picked up a controller in the 1970s to play Pong, this is an important victory for everyone who cares about freedom of expression.

Just this morning, the US Supreme court struck down California’s ban on the sale of "violent" video games to children, in a 7-2 decision. Essentially, the court held that games qualify as a form of expression protected by the First Amendment, and that there was insufficient evidence that they cause harm to minors. You can read all of the details of the decision (and read the majority and minority opinions) here.

It can be difficult to understand that finding if you are unfamiliar with video games, especially given the kind of media frenzy--around violent or sexual content particularly--that has accompanied the release of certain high profile games in the past. If you’re to believe certain cable news anchors, video games are the drug of choice for maladjusted, antisocial teenaged boys with raging hormones.

However, like film, novels, theater or music, video games encompass a wide variety of genres, formats and intended purposes. The IGDA (International Game Developers Association) and the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) filed a wonderfullyreadable, nearly "legalese-free" Amicus brief for the California case, highlighting the myriad ways in which games qualify as a valid, culturally relevant form of expression, worthy of First Amendment protection.

From the brief:

"At one end of the spectrum are games that are primarily 'serious,'--written to teach or to persuade, although they are naturally intended to be enjoyed as well. Like nonfiction literature, newspaper editorials, and documentary films, however, these games inform or argue directly.

At the other end of the spectrum are games written primarily to entertain--but often also having important expressive components. Indeed, as this Court wrote in Winters v. New York, 'the line between the informing and the entertaining is too elusive' to serve as a distinguishing factor in First Amendment analysis."

Many specific games, including several from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s "iCivics.org" educational games portal, are highlighted as specific examples. The IGDA certainly did their homework.

Even if you don’t care much for video games one way or another, this represents an important victory for civil liberties in an age of ever-evolving technology. What we have here is essentially a new form of speech enabled by technology--and like many new formats, it expands upon some of our older definitions and challenges us to seek out new ways to protect our freedoms in a changing environment.

So, whether you’re a developer with something to say, a true blue gamer, or somebody who doesn’t know Mario from Luigi, everyone benefits from the major power-up free speech received today.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TSA Makes the Friendly Skies Friendlier

By Cory Silverberg, About.com Guide June 22, 2011 My BioHeadlinesForumRSS See More About:sex toystravel tips How often does the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), the folks responsible for millions of pat-downs, confiscated bottles of water, and non-random searchers, issue statements about sexual pleasure? Maybe never. Until now. At least so says a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle which cites a TSA spokesperson clarifying that sex toys (including apparently vibrators, whips, chains, leashes, and manacles) are perfectly fine to travel with, just so long as you are comfortable having your sex toy inspected. "Inspectors inspect...If you don't want us to see it, don't bring it." Nico Melendez is quoted as saying in the piece (which at times reads more like an advertisement for Good Vibrations than an article about traveling with sex toys). Still, it's nice to know that the TSA will respond with comments to questions about sexual devices brought on planes, and as sex toys become just another consumer product and our embarrassment about them diminishes, it's likely that more people will be traveling with their toys. Read more - SFGate.com: If you pack a vibrator, don't get shaken by TSA" Tiny Nibbles - Violet Blue's Travel Advisory Related - Vibrators on an Airplane and Other Sex Toy Travel Tips Readers Respond - Best Way to Travel Discreetly with Your Sex Toys | Twitter | Newsletter Signup | Sexuality Forum | Comments (0)See All Posts Share Prev Comments No comments yet. Leave a Comment Must Reads What Is Sex? Sex How Tos All About Orgasms Sex Toys 101 Sex Positions Pictures

Sunday, June 12, 2011

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NCSF

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

The NCSF is committed to creating a political, legal and social environment in the U.S. that advances equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternative sexual and relationship expressions. The NCSF aims to advance the rights of, and advocate for consenting adults in the BDSM-Leather-Fetish, Swing, and Polyamory Communities. We pursue our vision through direct services, education, advocacy, and outreach, in conjunction with our partners, to directly benefit these communities.

In existence since 1997, NCSF is the only organization in the U.S. with a specific mission and focus to work for the BDSM, poly and swing communities. NCSF's core programs include:

  • Our Media Outreach program gives media interviews on alt sex, and produces the Media Updates, helps events with press and media when asked, and responds to negative characterizations about BDSM, swing and poly in the media.
  • Consent Counts is working to change assault laws and decriminalize BDSM and educate our own communities consent.
  • The Educational Outreach Program presents informative presentations around the country on everything from issues for SM groups to child custody and divorce issues.
  • The Kink Aware Professionals list is free referral list for doctors, mental health professionals, and more who are responsive to and non-judgmental about alternative lifestyle issues.
  • Incident Response program helps hundreds of people a year who are experiencing difficulties because of their alt.lifestyle interests and works to protect organizations and events from attacks.

Visit the NCSF's Website →

Thursday, June 9, 2011

SEXUAL FREEDOM: Why It Is Feared

By: ROBERT ANTON WILSON

from mattachette REVIEW, Vol. 8, No. 8, August 1962

 

THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN, and seriously advocate and practice, sexual free­dom are, and always have been, a minority. If there is one generalization that truly applies to themajority of men and women in all civilizations, ev­erywhere, it is that they fear sexual freedom more than anything else, more then death itself, even. This is the crucial mystery of human nature and, quite properly, it has been the area of most intense investigation by depth psychologists from Freud and Reich to Marcuse and Brown.

A. S. Neill, the founder of the Summerhill school, was once asked where in the civilized world a man could practice homosexuality without fear of legal persecution. Neill replied that he knew of no such place, adding that he didn't even know of a place where a man could practice heterosexuality without being persecuted for it. Homosexuals, Dr. Albert Ellis wrote, think that they suffer because they live in an anti-homosexual culture, but the truth is, he added, we all suffer because we live in an anti-sexual culture.

Eschewing depth psychology for the moment and taking a deliberately superficial view, why does the "man in the street" fear sexual freedom? That is, what reason would he himself give for the irrational taboos to which he submits and tries to inflict upon others? The answer is a truism. "Sex­ual freedom," the man in the street will tell you, "leads to anarchy and the collapse of Order."

Instead of automatically denying this (as most advocates of sexual free­dom do), let us consider it for a moment. The architect of modern anarchism, Michael Bakunin, wrote in hisGod and the State that without "God," the State is impossible. He instances as proof the Republics of France and the United States, both of which were founded by free-thinkers and atheists, but which both embraced the "God" idea very rapidly when the practical de­tails of governing had to be faced. Wilhelm Reich's Sexual Revolution and Mass Psychology of Fascism document that pro-State attitudes and authori­tarianism are usually joined with dogmatic religion and anti-sex fears, where­as anti-State and libertarian attitudes are generally coupled with free thought and pro-sex affirmation. Adorno's classic Authoritarian Personality gives reams of statistical proof of the Reichian thesis. A governor, we can safely say, has less problems in enforcing obedience if his subjects are mystical, religious and frightened of sex.

The reason for this is easy to understand. Sex denial is very close to be­ing absolutely impossible, and - as the subtle Jesuits knew long before Freud - even when the would-be ascetic thinks he has "triumphed" over the flesh, it sneaks up on him from a new direction and takes him by surprise. Thus, the inevitable consequence of sex denial is guilt: that special guilt which comes of continual failure to accomplish that which you consider "good." (This continual failure is the "dark night of the soul" lamented by medieval monks). Now, a guilt-ridden man is an easy man to manipulate and force to your own will, because self-respect is the prerequisite of indepen­dence and rebellion, and the guilt-ridden person can have no self-respect. Modern advertising revolves around this central fact as a great safe lock pivots on a single jewel: from "B.O." and "97 pound weakling" to the soap that makes you feel" clean all over,"advertising has inculcated self-doubts and guilts in order to persuade that the sponsor's panacea will cure these very doubts which the sponsor himself through his ad agency has created!

What does "government" mean, after all? Control of Mr. A by Mr. B - or, in other words, the subordination of me man's will to another's. We have been taught that society cannot exist without government and that this sub­ordination of wills is existentially necessary and unchangeable; hence, we accept it. But anthropology presents a different picture. As the anthropolo­gist Kathleen Gough has written, "The State as a social form has existed for about one-two-hundredth part of man's history... it may be one of the shortest-lived forms of human society."* What we call anarchy –i.e., volun­tary association-has been man's dominant pattern for 199/200ths of his history. It should be no surprise that, as Rattray Taylor shows in Sex in History,these pre-State societies were not sexually repressed and did not fear sexual freedom to the utmost extent.

Enforced conformity of human beings - the subjugation of society to the will of the State - leads to generalized stress upon the total organism of each. Modern psychosomatic medicine makes abundantly clear that all life (proto­plasm) consists of electro-colloidal equilibrium between gel (total disper­sion) and sol (total contraction), and every stress produces contraction, as is seen in exaggerated form in the typical withdrawal of the snail and turtle, a human infant visibly cringing with fear, etc. It is this (usually microscopic) contraction of the physical body that we experience psychically as "anxi­ety." When it becomes chronic, this contraction effects the large muscles and creates that "hunched, bowed" look which actors employ when portray­ing a timid and beaten man. The tendency toward this "posture of defeat" is visible in all State-dominated societies, as it was conspicuously absent in the bold carriage of the State-less Polynesians and American Indians when first contacted.

But the chronic anxiety which is the subjective aspect of this physical "shrinking biopathy" leads to a defensive attitude and a philosophy of con­trol. Government per se consists of this compulsion to control in its most highly developed form, and war represents the most coercive and ultimate form of control. No government lasts more than a generation without plung­ing its subjects into war; even the government founded by the pacifist Gandhi has plunged its subjects into war eight times in the generation since his death. Four wars per century is the average ratio for a long-lasting govern­ment.

Geldings, any farmer will tell you, are easier to control than stallions. The first governments, which were frankly slave-states, inculcated sexual repression for precisely this reason. Besides creating loads of guilt and self-doubt in the slaves, thus making them easier to intimidate for the rea­sons previously explained, sexual repression is itself a contraction of the large muscles. You cannot banish a wish from consciousness, as Groddeck demonstrates in The Book of the It, without contracting your abdominal muscles. Sexual repression in particular means what Neill calls "the stiff sto­mach disease," because the only way the genitals can be stopped from live­ly activity is by deadening them through abdominal armoring. It is Wilhelm Reich who deserves credit for seeing the ultimate implications of this. Reich pointed out that loosening of the chronic muscle contractions which charact­erize submissive "civilized" man must be a process of physical pain and psychic anxiety. We are now able to understand the two great mysteries of social behavior: why sexual repression is accepted and why government is accepted, when the first diminishes joy and the second is leading obviously to the destruction of the species. Submissiveness is anchored in the body. The anti-sexual training of infants, children and adolescents creates mus­cular tensions which cause pain whenever rebellion is attempted. This is why homosexuals and sexually free heterosexuals are so conspicuously "neu­rotic": besides the condemnation of society, they suffer also the "condem­nation" of their own muscles pushing them toward conformity and submis­sion.

Freud's famous pessimism is rooted in understanding of the psychic side of this process which I have described physically. "Man is his own prison­er," was Freud's final, gloomy conclusion. But recent thinkers have been less sure of this. Reich's Sexual Revolution, Brown's Life Against Death and Marcuse's Eros and Civilization all look forward toward a "civilization without repression," and all three tend to recognize that this would have to be a State-less civilization.

Before the murder of Mangus Colorado and the betrayal of Cochise, Apache society represented an approximation of such a free culture. Until marriage, all were sexually free to enjoy themselves as they wished (the same free­dom returned when a marriage was dissolved) and if the chief's wishes were not acceptable to anyone he was at liberty to enter another Apache tribe or start one of his own if he had enough followers. (Geronimo did just this when Cochise made his treaty with the U.S. government.) The tribe, thus, was held together by what anarchists call voluntary association and did not contain an authoritarian State apparatus.

In a technologically more advanced society the same principle can be car­ried out. Proudhon's famous formula for anarchism, "the dissolution of the State into the economic organism," means, basically, the substitution of voluntary contractual organizations for the involuntary coercive authority of the State. In such a system, whatever voluntary associations a man joined would be truly an expression of his will (otherwise, he would not join them). Such a State-less civilization could be as sexually free as the State-less bands, tribes and chiefdoms of pre-history; repression would have no social function, as there would be no need of creating guilt and submissiveness in the population.

Such a picture is not as "utopian" as it may seem – and "utopianism" is not something to despise nowadays, when the very survival of mankind is, as Norman Brown has noted, a "utopian dream." Cybernation has created, ­as Norbert Weiner predicted it would, and as writers like Kathleen Gough and Henry Marcuse are beginning to note with mixed joy and fear - the possi­bility of a society of abundance in which there will be very little need for work. Traditional humanity is at the end of its tether, due to the two great achievements of modern science, nuclear energy and cybernation. If we as individuals manage to survive the first, our culture certainly cannot survive the second. When it is no longer necessary for the masses of men to toil "by the sweat of their brows" for bread, one of the chief props for social repression will fall. Large-scale unemployment up to the level of massive starvation has, it is true, occurred in the past, and the ruling class has man­aged to remain in their saddles; but the large-scale unemployment to which we are now heading will make all previous "depressions" seem minor by comparison, and there will be no hope of relief ever coming - there will be no way to create new jobs. Undoubtedly, the ruling classes will allow the starvation to reach epic proportions; and, undoubtedly, the muscularly re­pressed masses, conditioned to submission and self-denial, will accept it ­except for a few rebels, as always; but, eventually, perhaps when cannibal­ism sets in, the whole edifice of culture based on repression will come tumb­ling down and, like Humpty Dumpty, nobody will be able to put it together again. Those now alive may live to see this.

The unrepressed man of the future - if there is a future - will look back at our age and wonder how we survived without all landing in the madhouse. That so many of us do land in madhouses will be accepted as the natural consequence of repressed civilization.

 

Tbe Decline of the State, by Kathleen Gough. Correspondence Publishing Com­pany. 1962.