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The W - Current Events & Politics - Justice Goes After Film Wholesaler in Porn Crackdown
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DrOp
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Since: 2.1.02

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#1 Posted on
This is a more detailed version of this yahoo.news story from the LA Times (which requires registration, so a link won't work). Thanks to FrostyFreeze for digging it up.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news? tmpl=story&u=/ibsys/20030807/lo_wtae/1731626


Justice Goes After Film Wholesaler in Porn Crackdown
By P.J. Huffstutter, Times Staff Writer

The Justice Department on Thursday charged a wholesaler of adult films here with violating federal obscenity laws, launching the first of what it promises will be a wave of criminal cases against purveyors of pornography.

The 10-count federal grand-jury indictment against Extreme Associates and its executives, Robert Zicari and Janet Romano, set off a wave of anxiety at adult-entertainment companies in California's San Fernando Valley, considered the capital of the multibillion-dollar pornography industry in the United States. Attorney General John Ashcroft promised upon taking office that he would crack down on the distributors of adult-entertainment material such as movies, magazines and Web sites, much as his Reagan administration predecessor Edwin Meese III did in the 1980s.

"Today's indictment marks an important step in the Department of Justice's strategy for attacking the proliferation of adult obscenity," Ashcroft said. The department will "continue to focus our efforts on targeted obscenity prosecutions that will deter others from producing and distributing obscene material."

Officials at Extreme Associates did not return calls for comment Thursday. But William Lyon, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade group for the adult-entertainment industry, moviemakers and former actresses, said, "This is just another form of harassment by the government." Thursday's indictment came after investigators with the U.S. Postal Inspectors Service set up a sting operation in Pennsylvania. Between July 2002 and February 2003, the defendants are accused of illegally selling allegedly obscene material via the Internet, and distributing videotapes and DVDs across state lines through the postal system.

Extreme produces movies such as "Extreme Teen 24" and "Forced Entry -- Directors Cut," which depict the rapes and murders of several women, according to court documents.

Extreme Associates, a relatively small player in the Triple-X world, has garnered both financial success and public attention in the past several years for its line of hyper-aggressive adult films.

The privately held company employees 15 people and has annual sales of between $20 million and $49.9 million, according to the U.S. Business Directory.

Extreme's offices were searched in April under a federal search warrant. The unsealed warrant shows that federal and postal investigators seized copies of five different movies as well as sales records, distribution invoices and an array of other business documents.

On the company's Web site, Zicari posted a statement that said no one was arrested and that the company remained in business. He vowed to fight the government and wrote, "I definitely will not sit here and cry a bunch of tears."

He also announced that the company was putting what it has begun calling "The Federal Five" tapes on sale on its Web site.

If convicted, Zicari, 29, also known as Rob Black, and Romano, 26, also known as Lizzie Borden, each could face as long as 50 years in prison and a fine of $2.5 million. The company could be fined as much as $5 million.

The case is a flashback to the controversial war on pornography that the government waged in the 1980s, which shut down dozens of production companies and sent executives to prison for distributing raunchy fare.

Meese's Commission on Pornography linked sexually violent materials with "antisocial acts of sexual violence," and attempted to draw ties between extreme sex entertainment and child molestation.

The commission's controversial 2,000-page report set off an unprecedented wave of anti-porn sentiment and legislation that eventually landed several high-profile porn executives in prison -- including Russell Hampshire, head of the video manufacturing company VCA Labs Inc. In 1988, he served nine months for shipping obscene videotapes across state lines to federal agents in Alabama.

Vivid Video Inc. in Los Angeles, along with founders Steven Hirsch and David "Dewi" James, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Mississippi in 1991 on obscenity counts for shipping four hard-core tapes to the state. The company pleaded guilty and paid a $500,000 fine.

While there has been a steady string of state and federal cases tackling obscenity issues in the past few years, many of the lawsuits have focused on concerns of online child pornography.

"Every time we get a Republican administration, these kind of cases seem to perk up," said attorney Elliot Abelson, who defended the industry in obscenity cases in the late 1970s and mid-'80s. "Back then, people definitely had a bracing sense that this was coming."

The adult-entertainment industry has grown dramatically since then. Annual rentals and sales of adult videos and DVDs top $4 billion, and the industry churns out about 11,000 titles each year--more than 20 times as many as Hollywood, according to Adult Video News, a trade magazine.

Social mores also have changed, allowing the industry to be perceived as more mainstream. Academics plumb porn for its cultural and business significance. Cable television company Showtime runs a show called "Family Business," detailing the day-to-day life of pornography producer Adam Glasser. And this past week, legendary pornographer Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine, and adult film actress Mary Carey, began gathering signatures to run in California's gubernatorial recall election.

Because of such changes, "it's getting harder and harder to get obscenity prosecutions," said Frederick S. Lane III, an attorney and author of "Obscene Profits: The Entrepreneurs of Pornography in the Cyber Age."

"Ones that would have been slam-dunks are hung juries," he said.
------------------

I posted this due to the mention of these types of crackdowns happening whenever we "have a Republican administration."
Agree? Disagree? Does it matter? Thoughts?







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Since: 2.1.02
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#2 Posted on
1) Couldn't happen to a nicer guy (Rob Black)

2) This is ridiculous. As long as the videos involve consenting legal adults, and they're not selling them to minors, this is a waste of time & money.



spf
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Since: 2.1.02
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#3 Posted on
Much as I love the idea of the human excrement that is Rob Black going into the penal system (get it, I said PENAL!) I cannot support this kind of crap. As we see the downside of electing people who are in good with religious zealots, that being that they start to do things that, well, religious zealots do. Like tell consenting adults what they may and may not watch in the privacy of their own homes.



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Since: 11.7.02
From: MD

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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.29
I agree with what spf2119 said...sort of. I agree with the principle that this is a waste of time and resources and that:

    Originally posted by spf2119
    As we see the downside of electing people who are in good with religious zealots, that being that they start to do things that, well, religious zealots do. Like tell consenting adults what they may and may not watch in the privacy of their own homes.

The same thing can also be said of extreme liberals about what people say, do, drink, eat, smoke; it's not contained to the religious folks. I'm not bashing anybody, just pointing out that this kind of insidious extremist crap that we do when we really have better things to worry about really grates on one's nerves.



"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.
-- Sir Alex Fraser Tytler
spf
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Since: 2.1.02
From: The Las Vegas of Canada

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#5 Posted on
Yes, the extreme "let's keep you from doing anything dumb to yourself" liberals exist as well. And I despise them just as much as these folks. However when you mess with porn, then you've crossed the line and made this fight PERSONAL~!



She was worth 800 miles driving to see her play - Brenda Weiler

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vsp
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Since: 3.1.02
From: Philly

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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00

    Originally posted by DrOp
    Thursday's indictment came after investigators with the U.S. Postal Inspectors Service set up a sting operation in Pennsylvania.


Aw, that's just great. Now half the web sites that distribute adult materials will put up "We will not ship to Pennsylvania" restrictions. THANKS, A-HOLES!

From what I've read about them, the products of Extreme Associates are beyond ugly and disturbing. But as long as they're exercises in play-acting (all simulation, no actual nonconsensual violation), they have as much right to exist and be sold as anyone else's products.

Free expression belongs to everybody. What turns me on and makes you retch gets the same protection as what turns you on and makes me retch. Tipper Gore and Joe Lieberman are cut from the same cloth as Pat Robertson and Jack "Ban 2 Live Crew" Thompson.





"I'm a little dyslexic......earlier, I freed my ass, and I'm hoping that my mind will follow." -- Moon Zappa
DrOp
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Since: 2.1.02

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#7 Posted on

    Originally posted by vsp
    Tipper Gore and Joe Lieberman are cut from the same cloth as Pat Robertson and Jack "Ban 2 Live Crew" Thompson.


Yeah, and we see how *that* dramatically changed the music industry, didn't we? I mean, GOSH, things aren't anywhere NEAR as raunchy today as Luke and the 2 Live Crew were back in the late 80s. The fact that I can't watch any music videos with my children in the room is AWESOME. Way to GO!!

*eyeroll*

And wouldn't "Me so Horny" SO be an Ashanti song nowadays?





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Since: 3.1.02
From: Philly

Since last post: 3069 days
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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00

    Originally posted by DrOp
    Yeah, and we see how *that* dramatically changed the music industry, didn't we? I mean, GOSH, things aren't anywhere NEAR as raunchy today as Luke and the 2 Live Crew were back in the late 80s. The fact that I can't watch any music videos with my children in the room is AWESOME.


A loaded question: who gets the blame for that?

The artists themselves, for creating raunchy music?

Those responsible for scripting/directing/producing raunchy videos to go with the raunchy music?

The artists' record companies, which have an obvious say in what goes into the music and videos that they release?

MTV, VH1, etc., for accepting raunchy videos and putting them into their rotations?

All four of the above are, of course, private entities that are quite capable of self-censorship, each capable of putting on the brakes and stepping back from providing 24-7 bootywaggle. (They don't, of course, because 24-7 bootywaggle sells.)

The difference between self-censorship and (let's say) Congressional hearings or obscenity prosecutions, however, is rather large, and will be evident to most...




"I'm a little dyslexic......earlier, I freed my ass, and I'm hoping that my mind will follow." -- Moon Zappa
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