Legal Question in Entertainment Law in Virginia

Is making decent adult films for sale legal in Hampton roads, virginia? (I am a female, who doesn't get aroused by people going at it in front of me, and also does not wish to participate on any films. Is there anything other than consent forms and getting everybody's forms of IDs that could prevent me from making a film? I believe I am professional and could revolutionize the adult film industry by making it a more relaxed, no pressure environment..

Asked on 10/15/13, 1:20 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Mitchell Interaction Law
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The line of legality/illegality does not turn around whether it is "decent adult" fare. Beyond mere consent of the actors, you need to comply with certain federal recordkeeping requirements. See http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2257, for starters. (The law was aimed at having records to prove no actor is a minor.) Second, consult Virginia's obscenity laws. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has set a standard for how "obscenity" is defined (also known as "the Miller test", from the case of Miller v. California, http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0413_0015_ZS.html), each state's laws can vary a bit so long as they do not go beyond that narrow definition. The problem is that the test applies the "contemporary community standard," which means that the standard of today may be different tomorrow, and the "community" that is applied may be hard to figure. (Some years ago, I researched it a bit and found that the "community" might be statewide, just the local area where customers come from, or the area where the jury pool is chosen from - it varied from one jurisdiction to another.)

Finally, you need to worry a bit about any local law enforcement type who doesn't know the law. Depending on who the person is, you might even want to introduce yourself and give them a heads up, and let them have the opportunity to sort out any fuzzy areas with you rather than deciding on their own to take some unwarranted action against you.

Our obscenity laws are pretty outdated, and there have generally been at least 4 Supreme Court justices who agree with my view that there should be no "obscenity exception" to the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech, but until then, there will be folks trying to use the government to censor others.

Also, find yourself a Virginia lawyer (I'm not one) to help you deal with all the ordinary business issues. You don't want anyone using a technicality against you where the First Amendment would otherwise keep them at bay.

Good luck.

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Answered on 10/15/13, 9:34 pm

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