A fellow producer emailed me today about the new regulations. This is what I said in reply. I need to blog about yesterday’s porn protest and other recent developments but I thought I’d put up this letter in the meantime.
The situation is pretty dire, yes. We know several producers who have decided to emigrate. We’ve decided to stand and fight. There are a few things you can do in the short term to help. Sign the online petition here:
(your name doesn’t appear on the website once you’ve signed).
And write to your MP- Julian Huppert MP tabled a motion to get the laws repealed. It won’t happen (for now), but at least some of our elected representatives are against this massive extensive of censorship to the internet.
Follow Myles Jackman, @ObscenityLaywer on twitter, and look at his blog here:
He is a lawyer specialising in defending sexual freedom cases and his blog is a mine of good information.
Follow and contribute to Backlash, who are organising the campaign against this and who operate a legal fund- contributing to them now fills the fund so whoever of us gets picked on as the test case has the chance of expert legal representation.
Also follow Pandora Blake, @pandorablake on twitter, and her blog here:
She is a UK spanking and bondage model and producer who has also decided to fight the new regulations and her blog is a good central information point.
In terms of what we can do, first… don’t panic. Unless you have been contacted by the regulator already, they’ll have to find you first. As far as we are concerned we are not operating a TV-like video on demand service- in our opinion 5 minutes of video a week is hardly comparable with the output of the BBC or Netflix. This was successfully used as grounds for an appeal by a small fem-dom website recently:
One can take some steps to make it less likely that they will pick on you. Hosting outside the UK and changing any overtly UK-centric text on the website, and domain name settings. Moving operations to a non-UK based company is a further step- our site always has been operated by a US company, for example. The regulator may still rule that we have editorial control in the UK, it is in their interest to say everyone does so that they can charge a fat regulation fee each year. Other EU countries have clearly not interpreted the requirements of EU directives in such a punitive, wide-ranging and censorious way. But no-one really knows.
If they do come calling, we have a few fall-back plans, the main one of which is to split the video and stills content of the sites and make the video one inaccessible from the UK by a combination of GeoIP address lookups and the simple expedient of refusing payment from UK credit cards. That’s not an attractive option but it is better than closing down entirely, which some sites have been forced to do.
You could move operations out of the UK entirely- we believe that if you are resident in another country (51% of the time at least), and the website is hosted outside the UK, you should be without the scope of their regulation and can carry on business regardless. We have decided not to do this, but others have already taken this option as I said.
On the plus side, the mainstream media response to these regulations has been entirely negative, with many people expressing disbelief that we’re censoring so heavily in the 21st Century. Public comments are almost entirely negative too whether at the Daily Mail online, The Telegraph, The Independent or whatever. If we stand up for ourselves and point out the absurdities in the regulations being imposed by unelected bureaucrats talking to other unelected bureaucrats with no form of public input, public consultation, or procedures for review… we might just get these laws changed and be allowed to go about what has been our legal business for the last 14 or so years.