Did Perez Hilton violate a federal obscenity law?
Perez Hilton, the brash, big-mouthed, wildly popular celebrity blogger that everyone loves to hate, may have violated a federal obscenity law when he posted an explicit adult video clip to his widely-read site earlier this week.
In the post, Hilton fingered Chuy Bravo, the sidekick of comedienne Chelsea Handler on her late-night talk show, “Chelsea Lately,” as a sometimes adult film performer. To prove it, he posted the explicit box covers of an adult movie, “Chuy Then and Lately,” and a hardcore video clip featuring what appears to be Chuy. But, in doing so, Hilton may have run afoul of obscenity laws that strictly dictate the terms under which pornographic content can appear online.
[NB: Some of the links that appear in this post lead to adult content.]
According to AVN.com [NSFW], the online home of Adult Video News, the adult movie industry’s trade publication, Hilton’s March 15 post, “Chuy Is an Official Porn Star!” [NSFW], does not follow 18 U.S.C. § 2257 guidelines. The code requires websites that post explicit sexual content to comply to various regulations and rules, including a link to a “2257 compliance statement containing the name and address of the custodian of records, who is required to keep records relating to the age and identity of the performers in the content, as well as other information,” writes AVN.com’s Tom Hymes. Hilton’s post doesn’t.
2257 regulations were born out of the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988, and it may behoove Hilton to note that “Federal inspectors may at any time launch inspections of these records and prosecute any infraction.” The vast majority of producers of adult content are intimately familiar with the finer nuances of the regulations and follow them dutifully so as not to be targeted by the Feds. And it’s not only those who produce adult content that must comply; it includes so-called “secondary producers,” defined as “anyone who ‘publishes, reproduces, or reissues’ explicit material.” Including Perez.
The Obama administration has made it clear that it has little interest in restarting the so-called “War on Porn” that began and fizzled out under the Bush administration. Surely, Attorney General Eric Holder has bigger fish to fry than those who are involved in the dissemination of midget porn. Besides, porn is everywhere you look nowadays. Historically, though, federal obscenity indictments have followed a “cherry-picking” pattern. Those who flout the rules and are the most high profile are targeted. Suffice to say, you never know.
Of course, most Americans don’t care about 2257 regulations. They figure that’s business of the sort left to sex-crazed bloggers and San Fernando Valley pornographers. Yet, with the rise of sexting and the proliferation of adult content being generated by people who don’t consider themselves pornographers using cellphones and video cameras, it may seem like someone else’s problem — until, that is, the adult content features someone you know, or, say, you, and the regulators have left the building.