Paternalistic Condoms-in-Porn Rules Will See California Statewide Vote

Initiative essentially creates a bounty for citizens (and lawyers) to sue producers.


Be sure to wear a condom when you're sodomizing a chain-link fence.
Credit: dyniss / photo on flickr

Next November looks like it will see a bumper crop of ballot initiatives for California voters. We may see pension reform, marijuana legalization, and other important subjects set before the voters.

We've already got three ballot initiatives set for vote next fall. Two involve bonds (including one for more money for schools). The third is a troublesome, meddling proposal that Elizabeth Nolan-Brown warned Reason readers about back in March. California voters will decide whether porn actors will be required by law to wear condoms (and potentially other safety devices—like goggles) under threat of lawsuits and fines.

The legislation mimics an initiative that was passed in Los Angeles County, pushed heavily by Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. There's very little sign that the law has actually resulted in increased use of condoms. Los Angeles County has shown little interest in enforcing the condom mandate and licensing scheme, and it's currently tied up in court. What we did see in the wake of the law's passage was a huge drop in the number of porn companies applying for film permits, meaning they either left the area or have simply moved underground entirely.

And there's no evidence that such set meddling is necessary. Despite some scares over the last few years, there have been no cases of on-set transmission of HIV in more than a decade (Correction: There was one case reported in 2014). Furthermore, the development of drugs like Truvada (a drug that, it's worth noting, Weinstein openly resisted) has actually rendered it just about impossible for a person to transmit the HIV virus, even when having condomless sex.

There is no evidence of any need for greater regulation on porn, and that's not even getting into the issue that increased public access to decent filming equipment, editing, and online streaming and sales has turned just about anybody into a pornographer. People can (and do) make their own amateur porn at home and sell it online.

The nastiest part of the initiative (and its true actual purpose) is that it's a lawsuit generator. It gives standing to anybody in the state of California to sue porn producers for violations of the act as a civil action, though obviously nobody except a performer (they're also authorized to sue) could have possibly suffered any sort of harm. It also holds distributors and talent agents potentially liable for violations of the condom rule. Fines range from $1,000 to $75,000, depending on the nature of the violation.

Oh, and the private plaintiff would get 25 percent of the civil judgment (and lawyer's fees! Don't forget the lawyer's fees!). The rest goes to the state. But if the defendant wins, they can only recover attorney fees if the court determines the lawsuit was filed frivolously or in bad faith. It's creating a bounty for citizens (and more importantly, their lawyers) to seek out non-compliant porn and sue.

And then there's the massive new licensing program. Every adult film producer would have to apply to the state for a two-year license to shoot adult films. And of course, violating this condom law would be grounds for having a license revoked or suspended.

Read the entire terrible, paternalistic, unnecessary ballot initiative here. And watch ReasonTV interview Weinstein and others about the Los Angeles version of this initiative, passed in 2012, below:

NEXT: Bernie Sanders Is Not The First Major-Party Presidential Candidate To Say Marijuana Should Be Legal

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  1. I heartily encourage California to export all porn production to former soviet states.

  2. The development of drugs like Truvada (a drug that, it’s worth noting, Weinstein openly resisted) has actually rendered it just about impossible for a person to transmit the HIV virus, even when having condomless sex.

    And that’s how you know that Weinstein is evil.

    1. ^This. Statistically, you’re safer having sex with an HIV-positive person who takes his meds regularly and has an undetectable viral load than you are having sex with someone of unknown HIV status who is not on anti-retrovirals.

  3. The nastiest part of the initiative (and its true actual purpose) is that it’s a lawsuit generator.

    Huh. And the trial lawyer guild was a major proponent and financial backer of the legislation? You don’t say.

    1. When I discuss law with my wife, it always comes back to how awful the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is. The private enforcement provisions provide the most perverse incentives possible, and the law helps nobody. It truly is an awful law, both in concept and in practice.

      When somebody proposes it as a model for a new law, there’s a 100% chance that motive is rent-seeking and legalized theft. 100% chance.

      1. ” it always comes back to how awful the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is”

        But GOOD INTENTIONS?? Nothing bad has ever happened because politicians want to help people.

        Why do you hate cripples?

      2. “it always comes back to how awful the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is”

        I came here to say exactly this – ADA is a scourge, and a shameful one. One of the most cynical laws ever written.

        That this is just more of the same highly successful scam is patently obvious.

      3. Hate the ADA. Leaves you in the awkward positions of breaching the subject yourself so you can allay fear about it harming your work or hoping they realize this isn’t going to effect anything they want you to do on their own. My college had to run special seminars just to teach folks how to handle the damn thing when they applied for jobs.

  4. This proposal is awful, but I’m not too worried. Even if it somehow passes, it will quickly be ruled unconstitutional based on the “right to privacy.” That, of course, is the part of the Constitution that forbids government from “policing women’s vaginas.”

  5. Obligatory safe sex scene.

    1. Had forgotten that scene. There could be some legal fun if porn actors used full size condoms like that, especially a full body condom built for two.

  6. Also remember; only Republicans want to regulate what two consenting adults do in their bedroom. Unless that bedroom is a movie set, or happens to have a camera in it.

    1. Still not giving republicans a pass on that.

  7. Too bad the fluffer isn’t wearing a TSA outfit in that vid.

    1. I needs ta check yo asshole.

  8. Is there anything California can’t ruin?

  9. An actual porn star offered this perspective in a article last year:

    “The condom law that recently got passed is a hot topic, in exactly the sort of way condoms usually aren’t. If you live in California and you voted on it, what you read on the ballet was ‘Do you think sex workers should have to wear condoms?’ It’s like ‘Should kids learn how to read?’ Of course! But then there’s the reality of it: Say a girl’s doing a typical shoot with a guy. It’ll wind up as 10 minutes of porn after editing, but it’s gonna take four hours to film. And if you’ve ever had sex with a condom for four hours, congratulations on your nerve-deadened penis! Now apologize to your partner, because condoms are rough. Abrasive. They cause tiny microscopic tears in the vagina. You’re running around after your marathon sex-epic high-fiving strangers on the street, but keep in mind that you basically just spent the runtime of Return of the King lightly sanding your partner’s genitals.”…..looks.html

    1. The ultimate goal is that progressives want the sex and porn industry out of California.

      1. And because fundie states like Kansas aren’t going to be exactly welcoming, this will drive the industry off-shore. They may continue to use US actors, but guarantee that all those caterers, grips and fluffers are going to be indigenous talent. Goodbye, jobs! Goodbye, tax revenues!

        1. Apparently it’s been moving to Tampa, which happens to have a bunch of established famous strip clubs.

        2. grips and fluffers


  10. Call me old fashioned but I like my beer cold, my TV loud, and my porn condomless. Looks like Cali will be losing yet another industry because of a self-inflicted wound.

  11. Paternalistic Condoms-in-Porn. Paternalistic. Condoms.



    Really? No applause, no narrowed gazes? You people don’t deserve Scott.

  12. I want to know how Scott can differentiate a chain-link a-hole from a chain-link mouth or vagina. Is it smaller and tighter?

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