California Law Would Allow Anyone to Sue Porn Studios if They Don't See a Condom on Screen

California Law Would Allow Anyone to Sue Porn Studios if They Don't See a Condom on Screen
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Though a number of past ballot initiatives aiming at requiring porn actors to wear condoms on screen have failed, a new California effort is gaining steam, but with an added twist: It would allow any viewers who see pornography without condoms to call out the porn studios that made that bareback porn.

The California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, which the California-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation is spearheading, would "enable whistleblowers and private citizens to pursue violators of the act where the state fails to do so." Backers of the initiative say they have enough signatures to make statewide ballots in November 2016.

The measure is designed to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. If approved, it would impose a number of provisions regarding the production of pornographic films, while also opening violators to civil liability. Theoretically, anyone in California who sees a pornographic video in which condoms are not used could file suit against alleged violators and even claim a partial financial judgement.  

"This bill puts performers at the mercy of any citizen, including those who misjudge and scorn the adult film industry," Chanel Preston, a porn actress and head of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committeetold Vocativ. 

"Any person or group with an anti-porn agenda, anyone with a personal issue with a specific performer, or an overly zealous fan could use this power as a means to attack performers in the industry," Preston told Vocativ, adding she personally receives online harassment from trolls on a near daily basis. 

The act would cover all "adult film" produced in California, which it defines as "any recorded, streamed or real-time broadcast of any film, video, multimedia or other representation of sexual intercourse in which performers actually engage in vaginal or anal penetration by a penis." 

The bill also broadly categorizes an "adult film producer" as "any person that makes, produces, finances or directs one or more adult films filmed in California and who sells, offers to sell or causes to be sold such adult film(s) in exchange for commercial consideration." 

Critics have argued that, because of the law's loose definitions, the language could potentially cover a couple making and distributing home videos from a personal website.  

"'Producer' is so loosely defined that this bill would essentially give my stalker the right to sue me for shooting and performing in my own content with my partner for my own website, and on top of that, be paid for the pleasure of harassing me," porn star Ela Darling told Vocativ

Many in the California porn industry oppose condoms, calling them functionally onerous, and contend the current standard biweekly testing regime is a safer alternative. A number of cases in California, however, call into question those claims. In 2013, the Guardian reported, at least four California-based adult actors were infected with HIV, leading Los Angeles voters to approve a measure requiring condoms for participants. 

Attempts as passing legislation for a statewide ban failed in 2014, leading the way for the current initiative.  

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Jon Levine

Jon Levine is a staff writer at Mic, covering politics and people. He is based in New York and can be reached at JLevine@mic.com.

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