Free Speech Coalition
|Purpose||Free speech advocacy, rights of sex industry workers and consumers, political advocacy|
The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) is a non-profit trade association of the pornography and adult entertainment industry in the United States. Founded in 1991, it opposes the passage and enforcement of obscenity laws and many censorship laws (with the exception of "anti-piracy" laws).
Prior to the establishment of a private right to own pornographic material in Stanley v. Georgia in 1969, adult film producers and sex toy manufacturers had limited ability to organize. The first truly national group to emerge was the Adult Film Association of America (AFAA), an association of approximately 100 film producers, exhibitors, and distributors. The AFAA hired attorneys and created a legal kit that could be used by those facing censorship. With the advent of inexpensive home videos, the AFAA became the Adult Film and Video Association of America (AFVAA).
In 1987, adult film producer Hal Freeman was charged with pandering. In People v. Freeman, prosecutors argued that paying performers to have sex in an adult film was an act of prostitution. The case went to the US Supreme Court where the 1989 Freeman decision effectively legalized adult film production in California. Despite the ruling, law enforcement began aggressively targeting adult theaters and video stores for selling adult material. In 1990, the City of Los Angeles used zoning ordinances to try and shut down nearly a hundred adult video theaters and shops in the Hollywood area.
Following the recommendations of the Meese Commission, the Bush administration began attacking both small distributors and major manufacturers of adult video with sting operations. Between March 1990 and June 1991, the US Department of Justice and the Los Angeles police raided 40 adult film companies in Los Angeles. While pornography production was no longer illegal in California, producers could still be charged with the federal crime of interstate sale of obscene material and tried in more conservative areas.
In response to the attacks, adult producers formed the Free Speech Legal Defense Fund (FSLDF) to pool resources. In 1991, as the government attack was blunted, the FSLDF decided to select a name more reflective of its broadened role in the adult community, and the Free Speech Coalition was born. The association became closely aligned with other organizations representing the rights of free speech and civil liberties.
Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act
In 1995, a comprehensive Federal scheme regulating the creation and wholesale distribution of recorded images of sexual conduct went into effect. Aimed at detecting and deterring child pornography, the Federal Labeling Law (also known as the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act) eliminated all privacy in the creation of sexual images. Any producers of, and performers in, such materials were ordered to comply with detailed disclosure requirements. In order for the industry to comply, the FSC was essential. FSC conducted training seminars, prepared compliance documents and uniform exemption labels and negotiated with the Justice Department for relief from some of the more burdensome and unreasonable components of the law.
The FSC's response to the Federal Labeling Law that established broadly throughout the industry the necessity of a functional trade organization to assist the industry.
In 1996 the Communications Decency Act (CDA) was enacted to protect children from accessing adult material on the Internet. The Child Pornography Protection Act (CPPA) followed in 1997; this legislation sought to criminalize the depiction of minors in sexually explicit video or online content, even if those depicted in the material were over 18-years of age. The redefinition of child pornography to include adults appearing to be minors, engaging in actual or simulated sexual activity was controversial. The Senate Judiciary Committee (the committee of origin), never even held a vote on the bill, yet it was signed into law, following Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) attaching it during the Conference Committee to the October 1997 Spending Bill. Under the definition, films such as Midnight Cowboy, The Last Picture Show, Animal House, A Clockwork Orange, Halloween, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Return to the Blue Lagoon, The Exorcist, Risky Business, Porky's, Bull Durham, Blowup, Dirty Dancing, and The People vs. Larry Flynt were subject to prosecution and potentially a five-year mandatory minimum imprisonment. When these concerns were brought to Senator Hatch's staff, they responded by conceding that such films could be charged but that "legitimate" movies need not fear prosecution. The FSC challenged the constitutionality of the law. For the first time since its own redefinition as a trade association, FSC undertook litigation challenging the constitutionality of a Federal statute.
FSC filed suit against then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, charging that the CPPA abridged first amendment rights by defining protected speech as obscene or as child pornography. In 2002, FSC views were upheld in the US Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, the "virtual child porn" case.
In 2005, FSC filed a complaint against the Dept of Justice and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, citing that 18 U.S.C. § 2257 regulations endangered the privacy and safety of performers by allowing private information to be accessed through the record-keeping process; also that 2257 regulations were complicated to the extent that adult producers would be unable to fully comply with the record-keeping system.
The controversial regulations have been an ongoing issue for adult industry producers and FSC. In February 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held in Connection Distributing Co. v. Holder that the record-keeping provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 2257 did not violate the First Amendment. A revised set of the § 2257 regulations was released in December 2009, prompting another complaint against the DOJ and Attorney General Eric Holder in 2010.
California Porn Tax
The FSC entered the field of lobbying in earnest in 1994, with the retention of a lobbyist in Sacramento, California's state capitol. After a year, the lobbying presence proved itself critical for the health of the national industry. A tax bill was introduced, with the purpose of assisting victims of domestic abuse and rape. An excise tax was proposed for all adult products and services, with the proceeds going to collection of the tax, law enforcement and, if anything remained, to rape counseling centers and battered victim shelters.
Constitutional law had long forbade the targeting of a content-defined tax and this bill was the model of such a tax scheme. Traditionally the industry had relied solely on the judiciary to protect itself against such intrusions, and legislatures across the country have become accustomed to regulating the adult industry without consultation with the parties to be regulated. Both patterns came to a halt with this proposed tax.
The FSC led a coalition of affected businesses and industry groups in fighting the tax. The FSC argued that the tax was a dangerous, unconstitutional precedent and that it would be bad for the state's economy. During the course of the ensuing debate, the economic influence of the adult entertainment industry was established in the minds of the zero votes in support. The bill was defeated at its first committee hearing.
Free Speech Coalition (FSC) is the trade association of the adult entertainment industry in the United States. Founded in 1991, it opposes the passage and enforcement of some censorship laws (with the exception of "anti-piracy" laws) and obscenity laws.
On the FSC's website it states that over the course of its history it has "fought for the rights of producers, distributors, performers and consumers of adult entertainment and pleasure products through battles in the legislature, the courts, regulatory agencies, at the ballot box and in the press".
The FSC is also committed to intersectionality, supporting populations within the adult industry concerned with issues such as: "women’s health and reproductive rights, LGBT rights, immigration, sexual health and wellness, sex education, decriminalization of victims and workers, human trafficking, discrimination, racism, and consent".
In 1999, FSC hired its first full-time Executive Director and began to gain a national reputation as a defender of First and Fourth Amendment rights. During the Clinton Administration, there were few obscenity prosecutions. Then-Attorney General Janet Reno seemed to see "obscenity" as a victimless crime. She also realized that in many areas community standards had changed and "obscenity" convictions were becoming more difficult to sustain.
The 2014 Board consisted of the following:
- Jeffrey Douglas - Board Chair, attorney
- Christian Mann - Board President, general manager at Evil Angel Productions, replacing former president Sid Grief
- Larry Garland - vice president, filling the position left empty by Mann
- Bob Christian - treasurer
- Mark Kernes - secretary
Other executives included:
- Diane Duke, Executive Director (primary spokesperson)
For 2015, elections were held in December 2014. Incumbent members Kink.com founder Peter Acworth, attorney Jeffrey Douglas, XBIZ founder Alec Helmy, Vivid Entertainment's Marci Hirsch, Good Vibrations owner Joel Kaminsky, AVN legal analyst Mark Kernes, attorney Reed Lee, and Classic Erotica's Lynn Swanson won re-election. Continuing board members include Adam & Eve's Bob Christian, ElDorado Trading's Larry Garland, MOXXX Productions Mo Reese, ATMLA's Mark Schechter, and NakedSword's Tim Valenti, which brought the total number of board members to 13.
HIV Activist Eric Paul Leue was hired as Executive Director to replace outgoing CEO Diane Duke.
Issues and Initiatives
- Challenging 2257 regulations in court (Free Speech Coalition v. Gonzales)
- Opposing the proposed .xxx top-level domain
- Rebutting claims of pornography addiction and harmful "secondary effects" of pornography
- Workplace safety
- Anti-piracy efforts including the FSC Anti-Piracy Action Program and two Public Service Announcements
- The FSC supports the decriminalization of sex work and workers' rights.
Performer Availability Screening Services
Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS) is a U.S. organization that maintains a database of STI testing results for pornographic actors. The database is intended to help reduce or prevent the spread of STDs in the porn industry. The organization, formerly known as Adult Production Health and Safety Services (APHSS), was developed by the Free Speech Coalition in 2013, following the closure of AIM.
Performers are tested every fourteen days for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B and C and trichomoniasis. According to PASS, there has not be an on-set transmission of HIV on a regulated set since 2004.
During the global coronavirus pandemic, a special task force met to determine how to incorporate a test for COVID-19. All performers and crew are now tested for COVID-19 with the date of test posted in the PASS database. Researchers have suggested that the PASS testing system may be a model for other industries.
In February 2015, the FSC announced an affiliation with the First Entertainment Credit Union. The arrangement with make member financial services available to approved production studios employees and their families, primarily in the adult film industry. Diane Duke, CEO of the FSC, stated "We are thrilled to be able to offer active FSC members and their families the opportunity to access First Entertainment for their banking needs and many other financial services. Especially because of difficulties faced by industry members that have had their business turned away by other institutions."
The FSC Lifetime Achievement Awards are given to adult industry businesses and professionals for outstanding achievements and contributions to the adult entertainment industry. They were launched in mid-1988 by the Adult Video Association at its annual Night of the Stars fundraising event, replacing its discontinued Erotic Film Awards. When the association merged into the Free Speech Coalition in late 1992, the new coalition took over the tradition. Previous years' awards are listed at the AVA Wikipedia entry. Starting in 2008 an "Election Bash" in the fall replaced the former Night of the Stars awards ceremony, reflecting the FSC's change in focus from the entertainers to the business side of the industry. The award presentations were normally made late in the year, but starting in 2014 they were changed to January as part of the XBIZ 360 conference, which is also site of the XBIZ Award ceremony. Thus the awards normally presented in late 2013 were given out in January 2014. In 2015 a new award, the Christian Mann Courage and Leadership Award, was added.
- 1988: Nina Hartley
- 1989: Sharon Kane
- 1990: Kay Parker
- 1991: Georgina Spelvin
- 1992: Marilyn Chambers
- 1993: Sharon Mitchell
- 1994: Veronica Hart and Kelly Nichols
- 1995: Hyapatia Lee
- 1996: Porsche Lynn
- 1997: Seka
- 1998: Vanessa del Rio
- 1999: Annie Sprinkle
- 2000: Shanna McCullough
- 2001: Juliet Anderson
- 2002: Ginger Lynn
- 2003: Amber Lynn
- 2004: Christy Canyon
- 2005: Alicia Rio
- 2006: Jill Kelly
- 1988: Joey Silvera
- 1989: John Leslie
- 1990: Eric Edwards
- 1991: Paul Thomas
- 1992: Herschel Savage
- 1993: Randy West
- 1994: Jamie Gillis
- 1995: Mike Horner
- 1996: Ron Jeremy
- 1997: John C. Holmes
- 1998: R. Bolla
- 1999: Richard Pacheco
- 2000: Jon Martin
- 2001: Don Fernando
- 2002: Tom Byron, Peter North
- 2003: Buck Adams
- 2004: Jesse Adams
- 2005: Johnny Keyes
- 2006: Marcus Spencer
- 1988: Anthony Spinelli
- 1989: Gerard Damiano
- 1990: Alex deRenzy
- 1991: Henri Pachard
- 1992: Cecil Howard
- 1993: Chuck Vincent
- 1994: F. J. Lincoln
- 1995: Bruce Seven
- 1996: Harold Lime and Robert McCallum
- 1997: Candida Royalle
- 1998: Bob Chinn
- 1999: Bobby Hollander
- 2000: Lasse Braun
- 2001: John Stagliano
- 2002: Radley Metzger
- 2003: Kirdy Stevens
- 2004: Carter Stevens
- 2005: Jim Holliday
Joel T. Warner 'Good Guy' Award
- 1988: Mike Warner
- 1989: Al Bloom
- 1990: Hal Freeman
- 1991: Mel Kamins
- 1991: Bobby Lilly
- 1992: Russ Hampshire
- 1993: Jacky Hagerman
- 1993: Harry Mohney
- 1994: Bill "Pinky" Stolbach
- 1995: Dr. George Boris
- 1996: Ted Rothstein & Martin Rothstein
- 1997: Robert Tremont
- 1998: Marty Turkel
- 2000: Christian Mann and Susan Colvin
- 2001: Paul Fishbein
- 2002: Ron Braverman
- 2003: Charles Brickman and Larry Ross
- 2004 Steve Orenstein
- 2006: Bob Pyne Sr. of Williams Trading
Hal Freeman 'Freedom Isn't Free' Award
- 1989: Al Goldstein
- 1990: Bob Guccione
- 1991: Barry Freilich
- 1992: Phil Harvey
- 1993: Gloria Leonard
- 1994: Paul Wisner and Howard Wasserman
- 1995: Stanley Fleishman
- 1996: Eddie Wedelstedt
- 1997: Larry Flynt
- 1998: Nadine Strossen
- 1999: COFE (Coalition for Free Expression)
- 2000: Dr. James Elias
- 2001: Randall D.B. Tighe
- 2002: T.L. and Suzi Wahl
- 2003: H. Louis Sirkin
- 2004: Gary Kremen
- 2005: Mike Moran of LD Management
- 2006: New Beginnings Ltd.'s Lenny Friedlander, Peekay's Phyllis Heppenstall and retired U.S. Army LtCol.-turned-porn-performer and director Dave Cummings
- 2006: Angelina Spencer (ACE National)
Positive Image Award
Presented to "performers that have helped to dispel negative stereotypes and misconceptions connected to work in the adult industry."
- 1997: Juli Ashton
- 1998: Shane
- 1999: Christi Lake
- 2000: Sean Michaels
- 2001: Shayla LaVeaux
- 2002: Dave Cummings
- 2003: Felecia
- 2004: Jenna Jameson
- 2005: Jim Griffith of Playboy Entertainment Group
- 2009: Ron Jeremy (male) and director Stormy Daniels (female) - the award to Jeremy was rescinded in 2017 due to multiple allegations of sexual assault against him.
- 2012: Steven St. Croix and Jessica Drake
- 2014: James Deen
- 2015: Chanel Preston (The announcement is unclear as to whether this award was renamed the Performer of the Year Award, or whether the title on the announcement is in error since the description still calls it the Positive Image award.)
- 2016: Ela Darling
Special Recognition Award
The Legacy Award "recognizes innovation, successful business practices and contributions to the industry as a whole."
Man of the Year
The Man of the Year Award is "given to business professionals that have shown exceptional leadership in building solid businesses and their communities."
Woman of the Year
The Woman of the Year Award is "given to business professionals that have shown exceptional leadership in building solid businesses and their communities."
Business of the Year
- 2008: Sureflix Digital Distribution
Pleasure Products Company of the Year
This award goes to the pleasure products company "that has demonstrated constant and unwavering innovation and excellence." Prior to 2015 the award was known as the Novelty Company of the Year award.
Production Company of the Year
The Production Company of the Year "award goes to the production company that has demonstrated constant and unwavering innovation and excellence."
Internet Company of the Year
The Internet Company of the Year "award recognizes excellence, innovation and contributions made to the adult industry overall."
The Leadership Award is given to "business or individual that demonstrates excellence in the adult entertainment industry in leading by example."
Benefactor of the Year
The Benefactor of the Year award "goes to the company that has demonstrated a consistent commitment to philanthropy and advocacy within the adult industry and throughout mainstream society."
Retailer of the Year
This award "goes to the retailer that has demonstrated constant and unwavering innovation and excellence."
Christian Mann Courage and Leadership Award
This award is given to "a member of the adult entertainment or pleasure products community who has shown exemplary courage and leadership fighting for the rights and image of the industry."
Award of Excellence
- Artistic freedom
- Civil and political rights
- Sex workers' rights
- Sex-positive movement
- Sexual Freedom League
- Sexual revolution
- Free Speech Coalition Lifetime Achievement Awards, 1988–2004, Adam Film World Guide Directory, 2005 Edition, pg. 305
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- "History". FreeSpeechCoalition.com. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
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- https://www.freespeechcoalition.com/about-fsc/history/. Missing or empty
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Over the organization’s twenty five-year history, it has fought for the rights of producers, distributors, performers and consumers of adult entertainment and pleasure products through battles in the legislature, the courts, regulatory agencies, at the ballot box and in the press.
- "Priorities". Free Speech Coalition. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
The adult industry is home to a multi-faceted and diverse workforce, which is why we are committed to intersectionality in our approach to serving the communities we represent. Our work must support not only the industry at large, but also the populations that work within the adult industry who have historically been underserved, harassed, and discriminated against by society at large. This includes but is not limited to issues related to: women’s health and reproductive rights, LGBT rights, immigration, sexual health and wellness, sex education, decriminalization of victims and workers, human trafficking, discrimination, racism, and consent. Join the fight, and support the communities that work within the adult industry.
- "FSC Shuffles Board Officers, Announces New Appointments". Adult Video News. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- "Diane Duke, Free Speech Coalition". Adult Video News. Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "FSC Announces Winners of 2015 Board of Directors Election". Adult Video News. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- "Eric Paul Leue Appointed Head of Free Speech Coalition". FreeSpeechCoalition.com. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- "Eric Paul Leue to Leave Free Speech Coalition". FreeSpeechCoalition.com. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- "FSC Selects Entrepreneur Michelle LeBlanc As Executive Director". FreeSpeechCoalition.com. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
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- Kravets, David (29 April 2010). "Porn Stars Decry Piracy in New Video (SFW)". Wired.
- "Sex Work Decriminalization". Free Speech Coalition. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
As the trade association of the adult industry, we have championed issues of free speech and workers' rights for over twenty five years. We stand firmly against exploitation and view the decriminalization of sex work as a critical step to combat sex trafficking, and strengthen workers' control over their bodies and lives. Leading human rights and public health organizations such as Amnesty International and the World Health Organization agree that in order to adequately address the issue of sex trafficking, sex work must be decriminalized world wide.
- Dennis Romero (28 August 2013). "Porn Production OK'd After HIV Scare, But Some Performers Are Wary". LA Weekly.
- "APHSS". PASS. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
- Mark Madler (29 August 2013). "Adult Filming Resumes in Valley". San Fernando Business Journal.
- "Moratorium FAQs". FreeSpeechCoalition.com. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
- McNeil Jr., Donald G. (5 November 2012). "Unlikely Model in H.I.V. Efforts: Sex Film Industry". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
- Hay, Mark (27 September 2019). "The Rift in the Porn World About How to Approach HIV". Rewire.News. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
- "Update 6/5/2020: FSC COVID-19 Task Force". FreeSpeechCoalition.com. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
- McFarling, Usha Lee (8 May 2020). "Why the porn industry has a lot to teach us about safety in the Covid-19 era". StatNews.com. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
- "FSC Partners with Credit Union to Provide Banking to Members". AVN.com. Adult Video News. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "FSC Business Award Winners Announced". Free Speech Coalition. 6 October 2009. Archived from the original on 9 January 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
- Ariana Rodriguez, "AEBN’s Scott Coffman Named FSC’s Man of the Year", 7 October 2008
- "FSC Award Recipients Announced". Adult Video News. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
- "11th Annual "Night of the Stars"". freespeechcoalition.com. Free Speech Coalition. Archived from the original on 24 February 1999. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
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- Hunter, Tod. "Free Speech Coalition Celebrates 16th Night of the Stars". avn.com. Adult Video News. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "Free Speech Coalition Gives Honorees, Guests Royal Treatment at Night of the Stars". avn.com. Adult Video News. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- Gretchen Gallen, "FSC’s Night of the Stars Rocks Hollywood", 18 July 2005
- Steve Javors, "FSC Celebrates ‘Night of the Stars'", 17 July 2006
- Staff (11 January 2002). "Adult Video News Awards - Winner - Best Classic DVD". AVN Award. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
- "2014 FSC Awards Winners Announced", 7 January 2014
- "Porn Star's 'Image Award' Revoked Amid Sexual Assault Claims". NBC Southern California. 3 November 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- "Recipients of Free Speech Coalition Awards Announced", 26 October 2012
- "2016 FSC Award Recipients Announced". Adult Video News. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
- "Girlfriends Films Honored by Free Speech Coalition", 17 February 2010
- "Wasteland’s Rowntree to Receive FSC Leadership Award", Free Speech Coalition press release, 7 February 2011
- "Pink Visual CEO Allison Vivas to Receive 2012 FSC Leadership Award", Free Speech Coalition press release, 13 December 2011
- Rhett Pardon, "Cybersocket Web Awards Announced; XBIZ Wins 2" Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, 9 February 2010
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