2257A Lawsuit

October 8th, 2009

D20 9260 2257A Lawsuit

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Free Speech Coalition et al v. Holder has been filed in federal court in Philadelphia . A news release about the lawsuit is here: http://www.freespeechcoalition.com/

I’m part of the “et al” in this lawsuit aimed at having the law known commonly as “2257A” declared unconstitutional. I blogged about how upset I am about this law here: http://exposedfortheshadows.blogspot.com/2009/03/2257-rant.html
In short this clearly unconstitutional law violates the guarantee of free speech contained in the Bill of Rights by making it a felony to fail to follow obscure, complicated and unclear procedures for record keeping for many types of completely legal photographs…and other forms of artistic expression such as painting and drawing. That’s right, it’s not just about photography. The idea behind this law appears to be to make it so impossible to follow the law that people will stop producing perfectly legal art work and at the same time make it possible for the government to pretty much charge anyone whose work they don’t like with a felony. Conviction can result in a 5-year prison sentence and designation as a sex offender.

My reaction to the law has been to restrict my photography to work that clearly falls outside the scope of this law. This has meant removing award-winning photos from display on the internet and has also resulted in not being able to successfully complete some new projects because the restrictions just made it impossible to produce effective work. I’m frustrated and very angry that my constitutional rights are being violated by this ill-considered law. It’s bad law that needs to be eliminated.

I’m participating in this lawsuit because I think it really matters, not just to me but to any photographer or other artist who works with the nude. If you do that kind of work and you think the law doesn’t affect you, I suspect you could be mistaken. If you photograph or draw or paint any nudes, if you photograph any bondage or BDSM scenes, even with the model fully clothed, then it is likely that you have produced at least some work that could be considered to fall under 2257A.

The law requires that you keep detailed, cross-referenced records of all the models you work with for those images. You also must publish a statement of where those records are maintained with each publication (including on the web) of any of those images. And those records must be available for unannounced inspection by federal agents at least 20 hours a week, every week. That’s right, if you maintain the records yourself you not only must publish your address, but you also can never go on vacation because you have to be there 20 hours every week in case an inspector wants to visit unannounced. Oh…and during that inspection they are permitted to look around for anything that they might consider a violation of any law, not just 2257A. So you have effectively given up your constitutional protection against warrantless searches.

If this concerns you, it should. If you think you could be affected by 2257A you should look into the details of it. The best way I know to do that is by reading the book Stephen Haynes wrote about the law. You can find it here: http://www.shaynes.com/2257_Book/index.htm

As the lawsuit progresses I plan to do updates here on my blog. So stay tuned for future developments.

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About this Blog

Photos and comments by Dave Levingston. This is the place to see my most recent work which may include nudes, dance, landscape, nature and whatever other kinds of photos I feel like taking.

Since it does contain nude photos, this blog is not intended for viewing by anyone under the age of 18.

All photographs and written comments on this blog are protected by the copyright laws of the United States.

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