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Adult Biz Has More Optimism

The change in presidential administrations does not mean that the adult industry stops being the target of prosecution and regulation; however, it does bring in new political players with greater respect for the U.S. Constitution, a group of industry insiders said. The election of Barack Obama ends a period where close ties between the Oval Office and the religious right increased obscenity and indecency prosecutions and morality-based legislation and brings in a more inclusive and tech savvy chief executive. “There is reason for great optimism based on who the President has surrounded himself with,” said Michael DeSanctis, an attorney with the Washington D.C. office Jenner & Block, during a panel discussion at the XBiz “State of the Industry” conference in Woodland Hills on Feb. 10. One of those people nominated by Obama for a high-profile administration position has drawn fire from conservatives. David W. Ogden’s record of representing adult businesses and involvement in a case defining child pornography came up when he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his nomination for deputy attorney general, the No. 2 spot in the Justice Department. During the confirmation hearing, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch quoted Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke that Ogden would be a “refreshing” change. Duke took the opportunity during her appearance at the conference to explain the full context of her quote of how Ogden would differ from the Attorney General’s office under the Bush Administration. Duke, however, was under no illusion that an Obama Justice Department would leave adult content providers alone and would throw the adult industry “under the bus” when needed. “What they will do is uphold the Constitution,” Duke added, Based on what happened during the last Democratic administration, the industry can be hopeful that federal prosecutors will turn their attention elsewhere. There will probably be no repeat of the “Cambria List” issued by an attorney with industry clients just as George W. Bush took office of what acts should not be depicted in adult content if the providers wanted to keep the Justice Department away from their doors. During the Bush years, the number of obscenity and child pornography cases dramatically increased. By 2006, there were 26 defendants facing obscenity charges. In the 2008 fiscal year, there were 19 new obscenity prosecutions, according to the Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Not even an industry titan like Larry Flynt cared to guess whether obscenity prosecutions will drop to Clinton era numbers. “I understand the Attorney General and the Obama Administration are concerned about material out there,” Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine, told a standing-room only crowd at the conference. “If they can go after anyone they will go after the people putting out the rough stuff.” Greg Piccionelli, an attorney with clients in the adult industry, saw the new administration as not just a chance to get away from the prosecutorial excesses of the Bush years but to transform the industry in the eyes of the general public and show the professional side of businesses that pay taxes, give jobs and actively fight against child pornography. Participation in adult entertainment has never been broader, which in turn brings it more into the mainstream, said Piccionelli, whose firm has an office in Westlake Village.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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