Porn Producers Lose Case Against Obscenity Laws

     (CN) – A federal judge in Washington, D.C., refused to dismiss a case against pornography producers who were charged with trafficking hard-core porn films across state lines and displaying illicit movie trailers online. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon rejected their claim that federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional.




     John Stagliano, John Stagliano Inc. and Evil Angel Productions Inc. were indicted on seven criminal counts after an FBI investigation yielded evidence that they were illegally distributing porn. During the investigation, FBI agents used the defendants’ Web site to order two films, “Milk Nymphos” and “Storm Squirters 2 ‘Target Practice.'” An FBI agent in Washington also downloaded a free trailer called “Fetish Fanatic Chapter 5.”
     The filmmakers were indicted on seven counts for illegal possession, distribution and sale of the obscene materials.
Stagliano and Evil Angel claimed that federal laws criminalizing the interstate trafficking of obscenity were unconstitutional.
     They argued that the law barring a Web site from displaying obscene materials was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, because made online material “subject to the community standards of the most conservative jurisdictions in the country.”
     But Judge Leon said the law was confined to a very narrow legal definition of obscenity. He said he is certain that online material will be judged “as a whole” and not individually according to obscenity laws, quashing filmmakers concerns that the trailer would be taken out of context. Federal obscenity statutes require items to be judged in context of surrounding work. The government will have to show that the trailer is obscene in the context of the Web page, Leon said.
     He also rejected their claim of a right to sexual privacy, saying such a right does not cover the distribution of obscene materials. He said the producers’ case “pales in comparison” and “does not even remotely approach” the sexual privacy cases concerning homosexual rights and rights to obtain birth control.
     However you look at it, obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment, Leon concluded.

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