The U.S. House of Representatives has approved child-safety legislation that includes a provision bringing some legitimate film and TV productions under the same federal-reporting requirements as X-rated films.
Under a provision inserted in the Children’s Safety and Violent Crime Reduction Act, the legislation would require "any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape or other matter" that contains a simulated sex scene to come under the same government-filing requirements that adult films have to meet.
Currently, any filmed sexual activity requires an affidavit that lists the names and ages of the actors who engage in the act. The film is required to have a video label that claims compliance with the law and lists where the custodian of the records can be found. The record-keeping requirement is known as Section 2257, for its citation in federal law. Violators could spend five years in jail.
Under the provision authored by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., the definition of sexual activity is expanded to include simulated sex acts like those that appear in many movies and TV shows.
While the overall bill is designed to give law enforcement officials more power to prosecute violent sexual predators and sets up a comprehensive national sex-offender registration system, it includes the language targeting motion pictures, TV shows and other material.
Last year, the House approved a similar measure, but it languished in the Senate as lawmakers could not decide how to proceed on hate-crimes language that also was attached to the legislation. The new legislation left the hate-crimes language out of the bill in the hopes that it would have an easier time in the Senate.
The Pence amendment has garnered opposition from several groups ranging from the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the Recording Industry Assn. of America, the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America to the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which say that the new requirement is a bad idea for legitimate business and could actually undo the current adult-film industry reporting requirements as it is likely to face a court challenge if it becomes law.
While the provision was included in the House version of the Children’s Safety Act approved September 14, it was not included in the version of the bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 17.
Whether the Senate decides to include the provision, it will have to be disposed of one way or another when lawmakers from both sides of the Capitol meet to iron out their differences, if the Senate approved the overall bill.
Changes in the Pence language that allow the motion picture industry to "self-certify" their compliance have made the provision more palatable, say industry officials.
Still, the motion picture industry hopes to be able to convince lawmakers to make further changes.
"We’d like to be completely excluded," said one studio executive. "We want them to focus on child predators. We don’t want them to lose their focus on that."