Los Angeles Business Journal

Porn Productions Have Safety Covered

OP-ED By Ed Krayewski Monday, December 16, 2013

Porn production in Los Angeles recently shut down for the third time this year after a performer tested positive for HIV.

“Like a ringing car alarm, a moratorium is a sign of a working system, not a broken one,” wrote Diane Duke, chief executive of the Free Speech Coalition, a porn trade group, warning against “sanctimonious” arguments in the discussion about AIDS prevention in the porn industry.

Supporters of Measure B, a law approved by Los Angeles County voters in November 2012 that requires the use of condoms on set, are using the situation to argue that enforcement by the county has been limp and the government needs to do more.

While a judge rejected the argument by the porn industry earlier this year that the condom law violated performers’ and producers’ First Amendment rights, he did find that the measure tried to grant health inspectors unconstitutionally broad search powers that could allow them to search anywhere and anytime for violations of the condom law, powers “akin to a general warrant.” County officials didn’t appeal the ruling, which left much of the enforcement mechanisms in the condom measure unusable, but did allow the county to issue “public health” permits to porn companies. The county says it’s sold just 11 of them.

Film permits for porn, meanwhile, have, quite predictably, plummeted in the county since the law was implemented. According to a spokesperson from FilmL.A., a non-profit that processes permits for film and television productions in Los Angeles, only 24 permits had been filed from producers of porn through last month. A typical year could see up to 500 filed.

Self-regulation

Opponents of the condom laws argued that the porn industry’s self-regulation and HIV testing were working and the Measure B requirements would drive the porn industry underground or out of Los Angeles. The dramatic 95 percent drop in film permitting, which has cost the county nearly $500,000 in revenues, and the exodus of some porn companies show those arguments coming true.

The mandatory condom law’s backers, such as Michael Weinstein, executive director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, claim the county is turned off and not enforcing the law through inspections because of the “ick factor.” It’s just like requiring stunt performers to wear harnesses, Weinstein argues.

Duke is right when she writes that the discussion about HIV prevention is one that ought to be had by porn producers and performers, who have instituted their own health and safety measures.

County officials, Weinstein argues, “have a callous disregard to the will of 1.6 million voters” because they refuse to aggressively enforce the law. But it’s Weinstein who has a “callous disregard” for the will of performers and producers, who enter voluntarily into the arrangements of porn production, ones that benefit the region’s economy, remunerated performers and producers as well as happy consumers.

The latest moratorium, rather than ammunition to push for more control, is evidence that self-regulation is working in the porn industry.

Ed Krayewski is an associate editor at Reason.com and Reason 24/7, a libertarian magazine based in Los Angeles.