Articles  For Adult Webmasters and Content Producers 


Our Articles About Adult Entertainment

"Mr. Obenberger is a Chicago-based First Amendment warrior. I just read
this essay he wrote, and I must say that it can be described as nothing
short of brilliant and inspiring. Well done, Mr. Obenberger."

- Marco Randazza, The Legal Satyricon, A Salute to Liberty and to Fellow First Amendment Lawyer, J.D. Obenberger.

    Since 1998, we have written topically-focused articles aimed at the serious legal issues that confront the producers and publishers of Adult Content materials and the operators and customers of brick and mortar Adult Businesses of every kind. Almost all of them have been published elsewhere, most for a national and international readership. 

    They run the gamut from obscenity prosecutions and police raids to the legal issues involving online adult novelty stores, Section 2257, and even how to hire a lawyer for an online adult business. We have an article aimed at beginners and first-time visitors as well.

    We've organized them here by date for an important reason: the law is always changing, and while older articles may contain seemingly eternal truisms and citations to law that remain valid, it is just as likely that some statutes mentioned in the older articles have been changed and that cases mentioned in the older articles may have been modified by later cases. Don't make any important legal decisions on the basis of anything you read online, here or elsewhere. Always consult with a lawyer to learn today's law.

An Article
"Articles" in Berlin

Recent Articles About Issues in the Law of Adult Entertainment


Articles written in 2013

Judge Baylson's Section 2257 Decision in Philadelphia: Playing Chess With the Third Circuit.   July, 2013 for XBIZ World. Judge Baylson's verdict is finally out - upholding Section 2257 as a legitimate and constitutional tool of the government to protect children. But he's burned down the barn to roast the pig. The Third Circuit - like a subsequently overruled panel of the Sixth Circuit - believes that Section 2257 applies even to privately recorded video in American bedrooms - and it remanded the case to Judge Baylson to find out if these private recordings are very frequent, common or substantial. Judge Baylson says he doesn't know what people surveyed meant when they admitted to sending sexually-explicit sexts to other people: he doesn't know if any of them fall inside the coverage of Section 2257. I think that he is pretending ignorance of a universally-understood term, splitting hairs artificially in order to take the rights of private Americans off the table. Read all about it.

Pre-Publication Clearance for Sexually-Explicit Material.  August, 2013 for XBIZ World. Only two dimensions? No. Photographs and videos have eight or more dimensions of risk - and it's dangerous to publish any of them without going down the list to assess risk. 

What You Need to Know About Nondisclosure Agreements in the Adult Internet.  April, 2013 for XBIZ World. NDAs are remarkably flexible, strong tools to protect mission-critical, sensitive information, procedures, and protocols. They can and should be adapted to a wide array of situations - but they must be entered into at the right time, cover what is legitimately  sensitive for a reasonable period of time, and their protections can be lost by your conduct in relation to the sensitive matter. This is not for amateurs.

The Future of Obscenity Prosectuions.
April, 2013 for XBIZ World. When asked where obscenity prosecuitons will go during the next ten years, this is my reply.

Vacation Plans Terminated Early: Some Background on Arrests by Stealth at the Airport and the US Travel Plans You'll Never Forget  January, 2013 for XBIZ World. If you are an international traveler involved in the adult industry, it would not be smart to ignore  your vulnerability to US jurisdiction when you pass through US airports.


Articles written in 2012

Four Dirty LIttle Secrets About Copyright Infringement - and What You Need To Do If Your Copyright Is Worth Protecting. December 2012 for XBIZ World. When everybody starts screaming indignantly about the pirates and copyright infringement, does anybody ever ask whether the owner invested $35 in registering the work with the Copyright Office before it was infringed? If the work wasn't worth that much to begin with, why should the courts worry about its theft?

Do Geographic-Based "No Ship"  Lists Make Any Sense at All in the Twenty-First Centry?
December 2012 for AVN Magazine. A careful look at actual cases demnstrates that they protect no one but cost online merchants and Valley studios substantial lost revenues. Adapted from the AVN Article with substantially more detail and supporting examples and cases of where obscenity prosecution really stands today.

Now We Know Why the 2257 Inspections Stopped. Sneaky Tricks Over at DOJ. Will They Fool Judge Baylson?
For XBIZ World Maazine, December 2012. Links to the FBI Agent's Affidavit and to the arguments used by DOJ in court to torpedo this industry's arguments based on the Right to Privacy.  Adapted from the XBIZ Article.

How to Check ID Like It Counts: Checking the ID of Models and Performers For Professionals
The penalty for violating Section 2257 is five years in prison. But the penalty for producting pornography with underage performers caps out at fifteen years on the first offense. Aggravated sexual assault of minors can make both seem like the smallest part of the dangers. If you were to make an honest mistake, how would you defend your age-checking protocol? How would you explain the clues that were right in front of your face that you missed? This article explains the inexensive tools of the trade and how to use them to keep minors off the set. This ran in YNOT and Adult Chamber, November, 2012.

Santorum Backpeddles the War on Porn
Candidate Santorum now thinks that a War on the Porn Industry would make for a "bizarre" campaign plank

A Primer on the Law of Prostitution in Illinois, Updated 2012
Some very radical changes in the law are deconstructed. Exclusively here on XXXLAW.

Articles written in 2010-11

What United States v. Williams Means to Adult Website Advertising and How to Decrease Risk.
It critically matters how you describe and package your content.

Third Party Records Custodians and Content of Undocumented Origin - Risky Business
This is as risky as it gets.

Foreign Webmasters And Section 2257
A foreign webmaster asks whether Section 2257 applies to what he does. 

How to Hire an Attorney for an Adult Online Business 
The Most Important Things To Think About Before You Hire a Lawyer. AVN Magazine, Summer Show Edition, August, 2010.

The John Stagliano Prosecution and Trial
Commentary about the trial and acquittal of John Stagliano. 2011.

An Obscenity Jury Trial Down South: Not Guilty in Arkansas  A controversial article telling the amazing story of an obscenity jury trial acquittal in a town named after the founder of the Ku Klux Klan., September 10, 2010. 

Free Speech and the Internet Update A Spring, 2010 update concerning obscenity, search and seizure, criminal cases, CDA Section 230, student website cases, CAN-SPAM, and the FTC Regulations concerning testimonials.

Articles written in 2009

23 Important Points About 2257
Detailed summary of the new Section 2257 Amendments - zeroing in on the most significant changes for webmasters and content producers.

Articles written in 2008

Legal Update - The Health of Obscenity Law, Williams, and Other Matters
Hints from the Supreme Court about the vitality of obscenity law, the decisions in Williams and Connections, and Ira Isaacs.

Venus and Berlin
A review of the Venus-Berlin Trade Show and a ramble about the place of Berlin in the history of the 20th Century and today.

Articles written in 2007

Five Important Legal Issues for Online Novelty Stores
Legal information important to the operators of Online Novelty Stores for AVN.

The Top Fifteen Obscenity Prosecution Stories of 2007
Written for the final 2007 edition of XBIZ print edition.

Articles written in 2006

Section 2257 for Retailers and Distributors
Aimed and brick-and-mortar and shipping retailers. HR 4472 and the effect of then-recent changes in the Section 2257 Regulations. For AVN.

The Empire Strikes Back: FAQs on HR 4472 for Adult Webmasters
 An urgent advisory issued when Congress enacted House Resolution 4472, having profound effects for adult webmasters.

Every Webmaster's Primer on Section 2257, 4th Edition
Written for AVN Online Magazine's print Summer Show edition, August, 2006. While it contains a wealth of information that is still usefull and advice that is helpful, it also contains information that isnow seriously outdated ; not only have the regulations changed, not only has the statute been amended, but significant litigation has taken place. CAUTION: for historical research only! Reliance on this article for legal guidance is dangerous in the extreme.

Articles written in 2005

True North and Magnetic Declination
For AVN Online Magazine. Alberto Gonzales, the Bush War on Porn, Judge Gary Lancaster, Prisoners of War, and the meaning of Liberty.

Pleasureboating on the River Rubicon
 Written for the Adult Freedom Foundation. It's about Liberty and freedom of choice.

The Sad Tale of Judge George Robertson
 For AVN Online. Only three judges have ever been removed from the bench for misconduct in Kansas; George Robinson lost his black robe for watching porn because the Kansas Supreme Court thinks that it brings discredit on the judiciary to do that. But, if judges don't look at porn, how can they ever learn the dimensions of the "contemporary community standards" that they are expected to know and apply when deciding probable cause for a warrant or guilt or innocence in a bench obscenity trial?

The Old Picture ID Requirements
For Historical Use Only. This article was written for YNOT News in 2005 to explain the old picture ID requirement under Section 2257 - before it was changed. It can help determine the legality of content made before the present regulations came about, but its guidance seriously differs from the state of the law in 2011 and must not be followed for content made in the present era. 

Articles written in 2004

The Problem of Prurience
Written for XBIZ. The place of obscenity law in the American tradition of Liberty with a special focus on the value of sexually controversial speech and the history of how American courts have understood "prurient appeal".

Articles written in 2003

Reflections From The Twilight Zone of Liberty
 Addressed to the "Character Counts" Agenda and its maxim to "Respect Authority"/

Wolves at the Door - The Coming Assault on Erotic Free Speech
 For the Free Speech Coalition's Free Speaker magazine. A discussion of John Ashcroft's Justice Department as it geared up against the Adult Industry in a campaign that eventually fizzzled. This article contains good, solid advice for content producers and webmasters about obscenity.

Articles written in 2002

The Words of the Prophets - Just Speaking Freely in Montreal 
People say that there's an eerie feel to this article. It was written for the paper edition of AVN Online over the Fourth of July Weekend in 2002, shortly after I returned from speaking in Montreal at the YNOT show there and its writing consumed the entire weekend. In light of what the DOJ was saying, it did seem like a scary time for the adult Internet. Big parts of this article were recast for the Free Speech Coalition piece, above, without the Latin and without the German.

Practical Tips for Webmasters Who Want to Stay Out of Jail
A two-part article written for YNOT News and first published there. Mainly a discussion of obscenity law and the steps that smart webmasters should take to reduce risk.

The Emperor's Clothes at the Supreme Court
Concerning the implications of the Free Speech Coalition case and published in Klixxx Magazine 7/2002

The Seven Circles of Internt Content Hell 
A Summary of the Internext Talk. Written for YNOT News and The Adult Chamber. It summarizes the most fun and enjoyable legal presentation I can remember, and there have been many.

No Mail Getting Through: Trouble in the Copyright Office
For Ynot News

Ask YNOT: A Question About Obscenity

Articles written in 2001

The Ten Important Legal Questions that Webmasters and Content Providers Asked Most in 2001
Written for YNOT News and concerning what I learned when, for a couple of years, I traveled around the country to speak with Webmasters and content producers about legal issues affecting the adult Internet as part of the AWE Shows, the Adult Webmaster  Shows sponsored by Cyberertoica. Caution: The Section 2257 guidance is out of date and its advice should not be followed.

Obscenity Law 101
Written for Chicago's Gentlemen's Pages, a tabloid, to introduce the readers to this area of law.

Morpheus in the Underworld
An early article about the legal issues in distributive networks for file sharing. Copyright infringement, obscenity law, and the rest. Written for Gentlemen's Pages.

XLP v. County of Lake: There Still May be Hope for Liberty in Lake County January 2001

Obscene Profits February 2001

Dirty Dancing April 2001

Two Great Decisions May 2001

"Dirty Words" and The Adult Internet: Freedom of Speech vs. "Protection of the Kids" June 2001

Not Guilty August 2001

The Ten Important Questions Webmasters Asked Most in 2001 September 2001, For YNOT News

From Under Silent Skies: America on Lockdown September 2001, For Gentlemen's Pages

Inquisition, Intercourse and the Internet November 2001, for AVN Online Magazine

9-11 and the Fate of the Republic November 2001

Articles written in 2000

Why Can’t the Media Report Truthfully About the Safe Neighborhoods Act Controversy? January 2000

The Beginning of Tyranny and the End of Privacy: A Nation of Suspects February 2000

Gold Coast Raid March 2000

The Decision in Kandyland April 2000

Illinois Starts Total Revision of the Criminal Code May 2000

If You Get Arrested: Sixteen Practical Tips June 2000

Who Says Adult Entertainment Can’t Win in Court? July 2000

Will The Last Person Leaving the Last Adult Performance in Chicago Please Turn Out the Lights? September 2000

A New Case Involving The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Schultz v. City of Cumberland October 2000

Brief Introduction to Section 2257 November 2000

Articles written in 1999

What to Do Before You Are Arrested:
Ten Rules That Could Save Your Life, Liberty, and Keep You Pursuing Happines Part Two
January 1999

US Supreme Court to Take Another Glance at Nude Dancing June 1999

DiMa v. Town of Hallie: Seventh Circuit Gives the Nod to “Hours of Operation” Ordinance for Adult Bookstore August 1999

The Law of Prostitution - Part I September 1999

The Law of Prostitution - Part II October 1999

Adventures of the Straight Player in a Crooked Game November 1999

Changes in Laws on "Sexual Morality" December 1999

Articles written in 1998

Sex in Chicago July 1998

The Little Pornshop on the Prairie August 1998

Police Deception October 1998

What to Do Before You Are Arrested:
Ten Rules That Could Save Your Life, Liberty, and Keep You Pursuing Happines Part One
January 1999

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