FBI crackdown on porn makers

first_imgAn FBI agent warned a roomful of pornographers Wednesday that the government will be checking up on them – and they vigorously applauded. Last summer, the FBI sent letters to a handful of porn producers asking them to come to Washington, D.C., to talk about more stringent enforcement of industry record-keeping. Known as “2257 compliance,” the laws require the adult entertainment business to keep detailed records on the names and ages of its performers. Though the porn industry, through its trade group and prominent figures, supports the spirit of the laws – keeping out performers under age 18 and penalizing companies that break the rule – it has vigorously fought them in court. The industry had dispatched lawyers and spokespeople to the nation’s capital to engage the bureau in conversation. And that discussion continued Wednesday, as Special Agent Chuck Joyner took the stage at the XBiz Hollywood annual conference. Dressed in a conservative suit, with his hair neatly cut to government regulations, Joyner told the assembled crowd of moviemakers, actors, Web masters and lawyers that they have nothing to fear if they keep accurate records. “We would be delighted if every company went through this without a violation,” he said. Prior to meeting with Joyner, that was not the impression received by the largely San Fernando Valley-based industry. When producers began getting word that the federal government wanted closer inspections – and was threatening prison terms for noncompliance – “delight” was not the first word that came to mind. “This created a level of anxiety in the industry that I had not seen for some time,” said lawyer Greg Piccionelli, who moderated the discussion with Joyner. “There was a great, collective gnashing of teeth.” He described “a rich tradition of hostility from the federal government” that created the previous distrust but said he hoped the industry could normalize relations with law enforcement and regulators. No problem, Joyner said. Just keep accurate records of performers’ names, identification and dates of birth. Joyner, a partner and a team of eight retired agents hired as contractors randomly select companies from a list of more than 1,200 producers. The contractors arrive during normal business hours, ask to inspect the records and prepare a report showing any violations. Then, before the report goes to Washington, the producer has a week to address any violations and show a good-faith effort to remain within the confines of the law. “We’re not trying to play gotcha. We’re not trying to hammer you,” Joyner said. “We’re trying to prevent the exploitation of minors.” Of the 10 inspections his teams have conducted thus far, only two companies have come out without violations, but Joyner stressed that he’s not in the business of conducting raids to shut producers down. As long as they show they’re trying to comply with the law, he said, they have nothing to worry about. Joyner’s presentation drew a warm reception in the packed ballroom, but Tom Hymes, XBiz publisher and a longtime industry activist, said companies remain guarded about the government’s newfound interest. “We hope all pornographers using children get caught and thrown in jail,” he said. “I don’t know anyone in the industry who has a problem with that. But the regulations go far beyond that. … As positive and hopeful as this seminar was, obviously the message is: If you’re not in compliance, you’d better get things together right away.” [email protected] (818) 713-3738 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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