Porn 101: 18 U.S.C. 2257 The Basics

Federal Record Keeping Requirements and 18 U.S.C. Section 2257

How it began…

In the fall of 1984, Penthouse magazine featured Traci Lords in a pictorial and made her their Pet of the Month. She quickly became an overnight sensation in the adult entertainment business and rapidly went on to star in hundreds of adult movies and posed for numerous other magazines.

By the fall of 1987, it became apparent that Ms. Lords might have actually been under the legal age of 18 when most of her print and video work was performed, thus making her a child and a minor when she appeared in those videos and magazines. This sent shockwaves through the adult entertainment business and resulted in numerous distributors being indicted by the federal government for the sale of child pornography. Many in the business scrambled to recall, retrieve and destroy Ms. Lordís pictures and videos to avoid prosecution and conviction.

Congress also immediately reacted to this and passed 18 U.S.C. section 2257 which was designed to prevent other minor age persons from appearing in sexually-explicit content. Section 2257, as it is referred to, places several requirements on those that act in and produce sex-explicit content. It is, without question, an all important piece of legislation that everyone in the adult entertainment business should be familiar with.

What 2257 requires?

Any producer, whether primary or secondary, involved in the creation or commercial distribution of images that contain visual depictions of actual sexually explicit conductî must maintain certain records of those that perform in that visual depiction.

What is actual sexually explicit conduct?

(A) Sexual intercourse of any kind, including oral and even between same sex partners;

(B) Bestiality;

(C) Masturbation;

(D) Sadistic and/or masochistic behavior;

(E) Sexually explicit content meant to arouse.

Who is a producer?

(A) Anyone that produces, manufactures, publishes any book, magazine, periodical, film, video, or other similar matter and yes, websites are included in this list.

When did it take effect?

(A) It is in effect and has been for any new content made after July 3, 1995.

What do I have to do as a producer?

If you are a producer of content you must create and maintain the following records;

(A) The legal name of each performer obtained by the examination of an identification document;

(B) The date of birth of each performer obtained by the examination of an identification document;

(C) Any name, other than the performer’s legal name ever used by the performer, including the performer’s maiden name, alias, nickname, stage name or professional name;

(D) For any content produced after May 26, 1992, such names shall be indexed by the title or identifying number of the book, magazine, film, videotape or other matter and again websites are included in this;

(E) Keep copies of all the identification documents that have been examined separated from all other records.

What constitutes identification?

(A) A state or federally issued ID that bears the photograph, name and birthday of the performer.

What do I have to do as a performer?

(A) Have 2 forms of identification issued by a state or federal government showing your legal name, birth date and photograph;

(B) Have a list of all your stage names, professional names, nicknames or alias that you have used in the adult entertainment business over your entire career;

While it is not required I would also provide any producer/director the following as well;

(C) A list of all the titles of the video/DVD, magazine and website performances you have been in.

Where and for how long do I have to keep the records?

(A) At the producer’s place of business;

(B) The place of business must be a street address not a PO Box;

(C) The records shall be maintained for as long as the producer remains in business;

(D) If the producer ceases to remain in business, he or she shall still continue to maintain these records for a period of 5 years.

Labeling requirements under 2257…

(A) A statement must be affixed to every copy of the book, magazine, periodical, film/video, website or other matter that shows the title or identifying number of that publication and;

(B) The date of the production, manufacture, publication, reproduction or reissuance of the matter and;

(C) A street address at which the records can be made available;

(D) The person responsible for maintaining the records;

(E) The name of the corporation/legal entity as well.

What can happen if I violate 2257?

(A) Violation of 2257 is a felony and those found guilty of such shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years and/or pay a fine;

(B) A second offense is punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years, but not less than 2 years and/or a fine;

Obviously, 2257 is a powerful statute and one that cannot be ignored. Failure to maintain these types of safeguards could also lead to the possible performance of a minor in an adult production which could have even greater potential for harm. The law is in a constant state of change in regards to 2257 and it is recommended that in order to fully understand those changes you consult and attorney immediately.

There are also many issues involved with 2257 that these pages have not touched on and remain somewhat unclear even to legal experts in the adult entertainment field. This summary is not meant to be exhaustive of what a producer’s responsibilities are when it comes to complying with 18 U.S.C. 2257. 18 U.S.C. 2257 is an extremely complex law and I strongly suggest that you contact competent legal counsel for additional information and advice.

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