Creators of porn websites have been set free of onerous confirmation of age record keeping laws, after the Unites States Court of Appeals found that the law requiring the keeping of these records was unconstitutional.
Previously, porn websites hosted in the United States had to keep records confirming that all performers shown on their sites were of a legal age. More recently there has been some suggestion that these requirements would be extended to all sites showing porn, potentially destroying sites such as YouPorn.com and Pornotube.com (both NSFW) who rely on user generated content and therefore would not have access to records.
A majority ruling of the Appeals Court found that “the purpose, and the legislative history of the statute make clear that Congress was concerned with all child pornography and considered record keeping important in battling all of it, without respect to the creator’s motivation” in that it impedes free speech rights.
Law.com notes that “the decision is a significant First Amendment ruling that directly implicates the controversial subjects of legal adult pornography and illegal child pornography.”
Just last week, Wired had an article looking at how a particular section of law regulating adult content could potentially hurt the growth of "user generated" porn sites. The law in question required any "publisher" of adult content to obtain and permanently keep records proving that the "performers" in question were of legal age. Obviously, the goal here is to prevent child porn -- but many felt that such a rule was incredibly burdensome on those who were producing legitimate adult content, and it was even worse for "user generated" sites that would now require such information from every participant. Now, Slashdot points out that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has found the law to be unconstitutional, as it violates the First Amendment. ... The full ruling (pdf) is an interesting read, but the crux of the argument is that while preventing child porn is a noble goal, if it ends up putting a burden on plenty of legitimate expression, then it's a clear First Amendment violation. Many people may not think this is a big deal, as they don't care for adult content or don't have any problem with having it heavily regulated -- but as the court notes, the right for people to remain anonymous is an important part of the First Amendment. Weakening that right -- even if for a reasonable end goal -- starts you down a slippery slope.
Read more here.