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Judge Rejects Arguments Challenging Federal Age Verification in Porn Industry

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson rejected arguments that federal law requirements for keeping records of the ages of pornography actors were meant to trample First Amendment rights of the pornography industry.

The laws challenged by the Free Speech Coalition make it mandatory for producers of pornography to obtain government-issued photo IDs for each performer and to keep copies of such documents on file for government inspection. The laws require pornography performers to be at least the age of 18.

In his 74-page opinion, Baylson observed, “A court should tread most carefully in considering facial challenges to anti-child pornography laws.”

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While challenging the record-keeping requirements as too burdensome, in last month’s trial in the matter, photographers specializing in erotic art testified that with the capabilities to shoot thousands of photographs a day, record keeping requirements were next to impossible.

Also a sex therapist from San Francisco expressed her frustration at being forced to stop live streaming her masturbation sessions because she is unable to maintain records of those who are viewing.

Sinclair Institute, arguably the world’s largest producer of sex education materials bemoaned that the federal laws are causing the organization to spend 20 hours a week and about $75,000 to maintain records.

However, Judge Baylson observed that given Sinclair Institute earned $53 million in revenue between 2005 and 2009, $75,000 for ensuring all performers are above the age of 18, and maintaining records was not unreasonable.

The court accepted evidence of government experts who submitted that pornography viewers sought child pornography to an extent where a keyword like “teen porn” is searched 500,000 times daily. The evidence also showed such searches have grown by more than 200 percent over the last decade.

The judge observed the record-keeping requirements are reasonable because, “there are undoubtedly minors who do not contemplate becoming doctors, lawyers or hedge fund zillionaires, and would be attracted to the financial benefits available in the adult pornography industry.”

The judge also remarked that, “Youthful-looking performers are ubiquitous in the adult entertainment industry and there is a significant market for pornographic materials depicting such individuals.”

However, Baylson ruled that government agents need to provide reasonable notice before their visits to check on record-keeping. He said such visits “involve physical intrusions by government agents into areas in which there is reasonable expectation of privacy.”

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