Free Speech Coalition

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Free Speech Coalition
Free Speech Coalition 2009.jpg
Nina Hartley delivering opening speech at "Free Speech Coalition Awards Annual Bash Event", Los Angeles, November 2009
Formation1991;29 years ago (1991)
Purpose Free speech advocacy
Rights of sex industry workers and consumers
Political advocacy
HeadquartersUnited States
Official language
English
Website freespeechcoalition.com

The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) is a non-profit trade association of the pornography and adult entertainment industry in the United States. Founded in 1991, it opposes the passage and enforcement of obscenity laws and many censorship laws (with the exception of "anti-piracy" laws).

Contents

Performer Availability Screening Services

Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS) is a U.S. organization that maintains a database of STI testing results for pornographic actors. [1] The database is intended to help reduce or prevent the spread of STDs in the porn industry. The organization, formerly known as Adult Production Health and Safety Services (APHSS), [2] is run by the Free Speech Coalition, a non-profit industry trade association. [3]

Performers are tested every fourteen days for a HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B and C and trichomoniasis. [4] According to PASS, there has not be an on-set transmission of HIV on a regulated set since 2004. [5] [6]

During the global coronavirus pandemic, a special task force met to determine how to incorporate a test for COVID-19. All performers and crew are now tested for COVID-19 with the date of test posted in the PASS database. [7] Researchers have suggested that the PASS testing system may be a model for other industries. [8]

History and profile

Origin

Free Speech Coalition (FSC) is the trade association of the adult entertainment industry in the United States. Founded in 1991, it opposes the passage and enforcement of some censorship laws (with the exception of "anti-piracy" laws) and obscenity laws. The concept of an organization as a rallying point for those who believe in the free expression of adult-themed works began as early as 1970. The first truly national group to emerge was the Adult Film Association of America (AFAA). At that time, adult entertainment was only available in adult theaters and bookstores so early members were largely theatrical exhibitors.

On the FSC's website it states that over the course of its history it has "fought for the rights of producers, distributors, performers and consumers of adult entertainment and pleasure products through battles in the legislature, the courts, regulatory agencies, at the ballot box and in the press". [9]

The FSC is also committed to intersectionality, supporting populations within the adult industry concerned with issues such as: "women’s health and reproductive rights, LGBT rights, immigration, sexual health and wellness, sex education, decriminalization of victims and workers, human trafficking, discrimination, racism, and consent". [10]

With the advent of inexpensive home videos, the AFAA became the Adult Film and Video Association of America (AFVAA). The next significant event that galvanized the AFVAA was the arrest of Hal Freeman for pandering. Prosecutors wanted to establish once and for all that paying performers to have sex in a film was an act of prostitution. Freeman won that legal battle, which redefined the use of the pandering laws relative to providers of adult product. As video productions became the dominant factor in the marketplace, theatrical exhibition diminished. The Freeman decision effectively legalized the production of adult films in the state of California.

Video chains and many independent stores in suburbs and smaller cities started carrying adult fare. Law enforcement officials subjected more and more retailers to obscenity charges. Then, in 1990, under the first Bush administration, the Federal government attacked most of the major manufacturers of adult video with a sting operation designed to destroy the industry.

In response, the Free Speech Legal Defense Fund (FSLDF) was formed by industry leaders to protect the rights of members in all areas of adult entertainment. In 1991, as the government attack was blunted, the FSLDF decided to select a name more reflective of its broadened role in the adult community, and the Free Speech Coalition was born. The association became closely aligned with other organizations representing the rights of free speech and civil liberties.

In 1995, a comprehensive Federal scheme regulating the creation and wholesale distribution of recorded images of sexual conduct went into effect. Aimed at detecting and deterring child pornography, the Federal Labeling Law (also known as the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act) eliminated all privacy in the creation of sexual images. Any producers of, and performers in, such materials were ordered to comply with detailed disclosure requirements. In order for the industry to comply, the FSC was essential. FSC conducted training seminars, prepared compliance documents and uniform exemption labels and negotiated with the Justice Department for relief from some of the more burdensome and unreasonable components of the law.

It was FSC's response to the Federal Labeling Law that established broadly throughout the industry the necessity of a functional trade organization to assist the industry.

The FSC supports the decriminalization of sex work and workers' rights. [11]

Member advocacy

In February 2015, the FSC announced an affiliation with the First Entertainment Credit Union. The arrangement with make member financial services available to approved production studios employees and their families, primarily in the adult film industry. Diane Duke, CEO of the FSC, stated "We are thrilled to be able to offer active FSC members and their families the opportunity to access First Entertainment for their banking needs and many other financial services. Especially because of difficulties faced by industry members that have had their business turned away by other institutions." [12]

Lobbyist activity

The FSC entered the field of lobbying in earnest in 1994, with the retention of a lobbyist in Sacramento, California's state capitol. After a year, the lobbying presence proved itself critical for the health of the national industry. A tax bill was introduced, with the purpose of assisting victims of domestic abuse and rape. An excise tax was proposed for all adult products and services, with the proceeds going to collection of the tax, law enforcement and, if anything remained, to rape counseling centers and battered victim shelters. [13]

Constitutional law had long forbade the targeting of a content-defined tax and this bill was the model of such a tax scheme. Traditionally the industry had relied solely on the judiciary to protect itself against such intrusions, and legislatures across the country have become accustomed to regulating the adult industry without consultation with the parties to be regulated. Both patterns came to a halt with this proposed tax.

The FSC led a coalition of affected businesses and industry groups in fighting the tax. The FSC argued that the tax was a dangerous, unconstitutional precedent and that it would be bad for the state's economy. During the course of the ensuing debate, the economic influence of the adult entertainment industry was established in the minds of the zero votes in support. The bill was defeated at its first committee hearing.

First Amendment

The industry and FSC were placed in a difficult position by the amendment of the Federal Child Pornography laws in 1997, which included "simulated" child pornography within the definition of child pornography. The redefinition of child pornography to include adults appearing to be minors, engaging in actual or simulated sexual activity was controversial. The Senate Judiciary Committee (the committee of origin), never even held a vote on the bill, yet it was signed into law, following Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) attaching it during the Conference Committee to the October 1997 Spending Bill. Under the definition, films such as Midnight Cowboy , The Last Picture Show , Animal House , A Clockwork Orange , Halloween , Fast Times at Ridgemont High , Return to the Blue Lagoon , The Exorcist , Risky Business , Porky's , Bull Durham , Blowup , Dirty Dancing , and The People vs. Larry Flynt were now subject to prosecution and potentially a five-year mandatory minimum imprisonment. When these concerns were brought to Senator Hatch's staff, they responded by conceding that such films could be charged but that "legitimate" movies need not fear prosecution. The FSC challenged the constitutionality of the law. For the first time since its own redefinition as a trade association, FSC undertook litigation challenging the constitutionality of a Federal statute.

In 1999, FSC hired its first full-time Executive Director and began to gain a national reputation as a defender of First and Fourth Amendment rights. During the Clinton Administration, there were few obscenity prosecutions. Then-Attorney General Janet Reno seemed to see "obscenity" as a victimless crime. She also realized that in many areas community standards had changed and "obscenity" convictions were becoming more difficult to sustain.

In 1996 the "Communications Decency Act" (CDA) was enacted to protect children from accessing adult material on the Internet. The Child Pornography Protection Act (CPPA) soon followed; this legislation sought to criminalize the depiction of minors in sexually explicit video or online content, even if those depicted in the material were over 18-years of age. FSC filed suit against then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, charging that the CPPA abridged first amendment rights by defining protected speech as obscene or as child pornography. In 2002, FSC views were upheld in the US Supreme Court in "Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition", the "virtual child porn" case.

In 2005, FSC filed a complaint against the Dept of Justice and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, citing that 18 U.S.C. § 2257 regulations endangered the privacy and safety of performers by allowing private information to be accessed through the record-keeping process; also that 2257 regulations were complicated to the extent that adult producers would be unable to fully comply with the record-keeping system.

The controversial regulations have been an ongoing issue for adult industry producers and FSC. In February 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held in Connection Distributing Co. v. Holder that the record-keeping provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 2257 did not violate the First Amendment. A revised set of the § 2257 regulations was released in December 2009, prompting another complaint against the DOJ and Attorney General Eric Holder in 2010.

Management

2014

The 2014 Board consisted of the following: [14]

Other executives included:

2015

For 2015, elections were held in December 2014. Incumbent members Kink.com founder Peter Acworth, attorney Jeffrey Douglas, XBIZ founder Alec Helmy, Vivid Entertainment's Marci Hirsch, Good Vibrations owner Joel Kaminsky, AVN legal analyst Mark Kernes, attorney Reed Lee, and Classic Erotica's Lynn Swanson won re-election. Continuing board members include Adam & Eve's Bob Christian, ElDorado Trading's Larry Garland, MOXXX Productions Mo Reese, ATMLA's Mark Schechter, and NakedSword's Tim Valenti, which brought the total number of board members to 13. [16]

2016

HIV Activist Eric Paul Leue was hired as Executive Director [17] to replace outgoing CEO Diane Duke.

2019

Executive Director Eric Paul Leue left in July [18] and was replaced by Michelle L. LeBlanc in October. [19]

Current issues

Awards

The FSC Lifetime Achievement Awards are given to adult industry businesses and professionals for outstanding achievements and contributions to the adult entertainment industry. [22] They were launched in mid-1988 by the Adult Video Association at its annual Night of the Stars fundraising event, replacing its discontinued Erotic Film Awards. When the association merged into the Free Speech Coalition in late 1992, the new coalition took over the tradition. Previous years' awards are listed at the AVA Wikipedia entry. Starting in 2008 an "Election Bash" in the fall replaced the former Night of the Stars awards ceremony, reflecting the FSC's change in focus from the entertainers to the business side of the industry. [23] The award presentations were normally made late in the year, but starting in 2014 they were changed to January as part of the XBIZ 360 conference, which is also site of the XBIZ Award ceremony. Thus the awards normally presented in late 2013 were given out in January 2014. In 2015 a new award, the Christian Mann Courage and Leadership Award, was added. [24]

Actresses

Seka at FSC 13th Annual Night of the Stars dinner, July 2000 Seka 00072919.jpg
Seka at FSC 13th Annual Night of the Stars dinner, July 2000

Actors

Gay Actor

Directors

Gay Director

Joel T. Warner 'Good Guy' Award

Hal Freeman 'Freedom Isn't Free' Award

Advocate Award

  • 2006: Angelina Spencer (ACE National) [33]

Positive Image Award

Presented to "performers that have helped to dispel negative stereotypes and misconceptions connected to work in the adult industry." [35]

Special Recognition Award

Legacy Award

Larry Flynt at the FSC Awards Annual Bash Event, Los Angeles, November 2009 Larry Flynt 2009.jpg
Larry Flynt at the FSC Awards Annual Bash Event, Los Angeles, November 2009

The Legacy Award "recognizes innovation, successful business practices and contributions to the industry as a whole." [35]

Man of the Year

John Stagliano at the FSC Awards Annual Bash Event, November 2009 John Stagliano 2009.jpg
John Stagliano at the FSC Awards Annual Bash Event, November 2009

The Man of the Year Award is "given to business professionals that have shown exceptional leadership in building solid businesses and their communities." [35]

  • 2008: AEBN President and founder Scott Coffman [23]
  • 2009: Director John Stagliano
  • 2012: Tim Valenti (AEBN, Naked Sword) [37]
  • 2014: Pipedream's Nick Orlandino [35]
  • 2015: Christian Mann [24]
  • 2016: Steve Orenstein [38]

Woman of the Year

The Woman of the Year Award is "given to business professionals that have shown exceptional leadership in building solid businesses and their communities." [35]

  • 2008: Rondee Kamins of Trans World News [23]
  • 2009: Sinclair Institute's Peggy Oettinger
  • 2012: Theresa Flynt (Hustler Hollywood) [37]
  • 2014: Honey's Place owner Bonnie Feingold [35]
  • 2015: Lorelei Lee [24]
  • 2016: Susan Colvin [38]

Business of the Year

  • 2008: Sureflix Digital Distribution [23]

Pleasure Products Company of the Year

This award goes to the pleasure products company "that has demonstrated constant and unwavering innovation and excellence." [24] Prior to 2015 the award was known as the Novelty Company of the Year award.

  • 2009: Screaming O
  • 2012: Sportsheets [37]
  • 2014: California Exotic Novelties [35]
  • 2015: Pipedream [24]
  • 2016: The Screaming O [38]

Production Company of the Year

The Production Company of the Year "award goes to the production company that has demonstrated constant and unwavering innovation and excellence." [37]

Internet Company of the Year

The Internet Company of the Year "award recognizes excellence, innovation and contributions made to the adult industry overall." [35]

  • 2009: Video Secrets
  • 2012: Gamma Entertainment [37]
  • 2014: Gamelink [35]
  • 2015: Clips4sale [24]
  • 2016: BaDoink.com [38]

Leadership Award

The Leadership Award is given to "business or individual that demonstrates excellence in the adult entertainment industry in leading by example." [24]

Benefactor of the Year

The Benefactor of the Year award "goes to the company that has demonstrated a consistent commitment to philanthropy and advocacy within the adult industry and throughout mainstream society." [37]

Retailer of the Year

This award "goes to the retailer that has demonstrated constant and unwavering innovation and excellence." [24]

  • 2014: the Lions' Den chain of adult stores [35]
  • 2015: Castle Megastore [24]
  • 2016: Good Vibrations [38]

Christian Mann Courage and Leadership Award

This award is given to "a member of the adult entertainment or pleasure products community who has shown exemplary courage and leadership fighting for the rights and image of the industry." [24]

Award of Excellence

The Free Speech Coalition also presents an award of excellence at the Cybersocket Web Awards (won in 2010 by CorbinFisher.com) [42]

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988, title VII, subtitle N of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100–690, 102 Stat. 4181, enacted November 18, 1988, H.R. 5210, is part of a United States Act of Congress which places stringent record-keeping requirements on the producers of actual, sexually explicit materials. The guidelines for enforcing these laws, part of the United States Code of Federal Regulations, require producers of sexually explicit material to obtain proof of age for every model they shoot, and retain those records. Federal inspectors may at any time launch inspections of these records and prosecute any infraction.

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