Advocacy – Free Speech Coalition

Advocacy

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The Free Speech Coalition or “FSC” is a non-profit trade association that consists of members of the adult entertainment industry. Established to fight against censorship and oppression against their businesses, the FSC is opposed to all laws meant to control their content— the only exception being “anti-piracy” laws, which help prevent adult entertainment products from being stolen and illegally distributed.

Though the FSC was not founded until 1991, the concept of having such an organization for the adult entertainment industry actually stems back to the early 1970s. Pornography had existed for centuries, but it was produced and distributed largely in secret. In the 1950s and 60s, the question of whether or not pornography was protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments became a serious debate, with many back and forth government decisions. By the 1970s, many of those who worked in the adult entertainment industry were well-versed in U.S. obscenity laws and made sure they were doing everything they could to get around them. Nevertheless, many still face numerous legal battles, and individuals like Larry Flynt were even arrested on obscenity charges for the work they did.

The first national group meant to protect the rights of the adult industry was the Adult Film Association of America, also known as the AFAA. As times changed, however, and home videos became the norm instead of adult movie theaters, this organization became the Adult Film and Video Association of America (AFVAA).

But in the 1980s, attacks on the adult entertainment industry only intensified. However, this turned out to be a good thing, since it led to cases determining once and for all the legality of the adult industry and its products. For example, the arrest of Hal Freeman for pandering culminated in California v. Freeman, a 1988 state Supreme Court case that effectively legalized the production of hardcore pornography in the state of California, which led to similar decisions in states around the country. Though not directly about pornographic content, the federal Supreme Court case Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell (which also took place in 1988) also played a role in securing First Amendment rights for the adult entertainment industry.

Nevertheless, it was in 1990 that the first Bush administration had the government lashing out once more against the adult entertainment industry. A sting operation (meant to destroy the industry as a whole) was conducted, criminalizing many manufacturers of pornography. It was in direct response to this that the FSC finally took official form, although at that point it was called the “Free Speech Legal Defense Fund” or “FSLDF”. After the government attack was effectively stopped in 1991, the organization adopted the more broadly-termed name of “Free Speech Coalition”.

Things went well legal-wise for the adult industry for the next few years, but in 1995 another speed bump from the government came up. Though it was understandably aimed at stopping child pornography, the Federal Labeling Law ended up removing all privacy from the industry. The FSC’s members were all for eliminating child pornography and were willing to comply with the general requirements of the new law, but they also managed to negotiate with the U.S. Justice Department and change some of the more unreasonable and difficult parts of the law. The FSC also served as the industry’s front for complying with the law in general, and they ran seminars and training sessions for other industry members in order to help them meet the requirements.

Throughout the rest of the 90s and the early 2000s, the FSC managed to prove itself a strong, effective organization in protecting the rights of those who work in just about every legal facet of the adult entertainment industry. Today, the FSC continues to “fight for freedom of speech respecting the inherent right of adults to be adults.”

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