Internext Addresses Obscenity Risks and Recent Prosecutions

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - The Department of Justice under the current Bush administration has shown an unfavorable interest in handing down indictments throughout the adult industry of late. With prosecutions on the state and federal levels increasing from a drizzle to a downpour, many industry professionals have been left with a state of unease surrounding the manufacturing and distribution of adult content.

Moderator Connor Young of YNOT led the discussion Saturday during Internext Summer 2008 surrounding current obscenity litigations involving some of the industries top players including Max Hardcore, John Stagliano and Ray Guhn.

Industry attorney Dan Aaronson started off with a passionate statement that obscenity laws do not work.

"With broad spectrums involving community standards being put into play surrounding these litigations, its important for anyone in the adult space to pay close attention to protecting yourself," he said. "When trying a case for obscenity in federal court, community standards and jury selection are often slanted to the benefit of the prosecution."

Many jurisdictions are extremely conservative, according to Aaronson, and they tend to cater to the belief that all adult content is obscene.

Furthermore, judges can decide to throw out valuable evidence supporting the defendants, leaving the decisions to a jury largely comprised of right wing conservatives, selected geographically for that purpose.

Max Hardcore went on to warn attendees to be aware of where your materials are going, how they are getting there and who will be viewing them.

"The government can purchase content or download material from anywhere and prosecute," he said.

"The obscenity laws do not subscribe to traditional criminal components," attorney Jennifer Kinsley added. "There is a vast grey area and we have to bring up as many issues as we can and fight as hard as we can in order to shine a light on the flaws surrounding these types of cases."

Hardcore agreed, saying that the more cases fought, the more knowledgeable people will become about the issues.

"The industry has been very supportive of my case and I want to thank everyone who has contributed," he said. "The more people who are aware of the frivolity of these cases the more we can avoid these pitfalls and protect our constitutional rights."

Many members of the Department of Justice believe that prosecuting matters of obscenity tend to be a waste of time and efforts in light of many other more pressing issues involving crime, drugs, et cetera, panelists said.

"There are only a handful of religious zealots in the DOJ who feel inclined to impose their ideals and morality on the rest of us," industry attorney and AVN Online legal columnist Clyde DeWitt said. He added that pressure to focus on these cases has forced many other DOJ members to be fired.

"These conservative members are inclined to pacify the religious sect and say ‘hey were doing something here,' but the reality is they are in the minority," DeWitt said. "Others feel there are more pressing issues to address and that a majority of obscenity cases have no impact on social matters and accomplish nothing."

Several us attorneys within the DOJ were offered cases surrounding obscenity charges and declined to prosecute. They were unceremoniously terminated and many others were not retained for the same reason.

When Young asked if there is any way for law conscious producers and distributors to disseminate product without running afoul of the laws, Aaronson said there are no guarantees.