EDITORIAL: Porn law’s unintended consequences


One of the most easily foreseeable consequences of Los Angeles County’s new ordinance requiring porn actors to wear condoms was the flight of the industry to other jurisdictions, either across the county line, state boundaries or even international borders.

Sure enough, Los Angeles film permits for pornographic movies have plummeted since the law’s passage in late 2012. That year, there were 485 permit applications; in 2013, that number dropped to 40. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, just 20 permit applications have been filed so far this year.

Not surprisingly, L.A.’s loss has been Las Vegas’ gain. Some of those productions are moving here. It’s hard to know just how many, because Nevada requires permits only for filming in certain places. Private-property shoots don’t require permits in the Silver State.

Whether this is good news for Nevada depends on who you talk to. As a matter of policy, elected officials want nothing to do with the adult entertainment industry; sexually explicit films are not eligible for Nevada’s film tax credits. That said, the industry already has a significant presence in Southern Nevada.

But just because adult films are leaving L.A. doesn’t mean L.A. has left them: The organization that was the driving force behind the condom law has filed a complaint with Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration against a Los Angeles company that shot a video here, sans condoms. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation complains that video producer Cybernet Entertainment didn’t use condoms in the filming of “Vegas Road Trip.” (There’s a reason for that: porn customers prefer to not see condom use in the films they buy.)

Nevada OSHA is investigating the complaint, but there’s one significant problem: Unlike L.A., Nevada has no condom requirement for pornographic films. That’s undoubtedly why AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein cited a federal OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard in his complaint instead.

Cybernet owner Peter Acworth calls the complaint “baseless.”

The pornography industry regularly tests actors for HIV, similar to the way sex workers in Nevada’s legal brothels submit to regular health screenings. It’s not a perfect system; when the AIDS Healthcare Foundation last tangled with Cybernet, a complaint that a performer allegedly exposed fellow actors to HIV resulted in a $78,710 fine for the company.

If regulations in a given jurisdiction interfere with the production of a product that people want — porn is at least a $6 billion-per-year industry — the companies that produce it will move to a more favorable locale. Unlike, say, mining operations (which must dig where the minerals are located) or renewable energy production (which must locate where the sun shines, wind blows or geothermal reserves exist), porn can be made anywhere. All kinds of industries are fleeing places with hostile business environments for friendlier locales. Why would porn be any different? Even more adult film shoots could be headed to Nevada if the California Legislature passes a statewide pornography condom law now under consideration.

The prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is a vital public health concern. But the AIDS Healthcare Foundation should be careful what it wishes for. Porn producers say ordinances such as the one in Los Angeles County drive productions underground, which could prompt filmmakers to bypass the safety measures the industry has voluntarily undertaken to prevent the transmission of disease.

A ban that won’t work as intended. Where have we heard that before?

 

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