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The Adult Provider Network discusses problems with the Digital Economy Bill

Posted at 12:29 on 28 Sep 2016 by Pandora / Blake

The Adult Provider Network

Last month I attended the second meeting of the newly reinstated Adult Provider Network - an adult industry trade association formed last month to co-ordinate responses to the Digital Economy Bill. It was an absolutely fascinating meeting, and I learned a lot. Read on to discover how this will actually affect your business if you run a UK porn site, why the bill potentially discriminates against the visually impaired, and how the bill risks creating a new trade barrier between UK industry and overseas.

Who are the Adult Provider Network?

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Tags: Adult Provider Network, age verification, ATVOD, AV consultation, AVMS, BBFC, BBFC guidelines, censorship, child safety, civil liberties, Digital Economy Bill, digital rights, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, health and disability, MindGeek, obscenity, Ofcom, politics, porn, privacy, sex education, surveillance, technology, young people

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Age verification: The Digital Economy Bill and what it means

Posted at 22:30 on 30 Aug 2016 by Pandora / Blake

The government have published their reply to the consultation responses we submitted earlier this year on their proposed policy to enforce age verification for UK viewers of online porn. These proposals are not evidence-based, are classist to the core, and have worrying implications for privacy and freedom of speech. Along with many of you, I submitted a response to the consultation in April, which you can read in full here (it's split into six parts - turns out I had a lot to say). My response was also submitted to the Liberal Democrat policy committee, as well as to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in the civil service. 

Since then I've attended meetings with representatives from DCMS, the UK Adult Producer trade association, and the Adult Provider Network to discuss the age verification proposals. In these meetings the civil servants I spoke to worked hard to come across as reasonable, open-minded, and interested in listening to our concerns and improving the proposals. But now they've published their official response to the consultation, it's clear that this was a performance purely for our benefit. The Digital Economy Bill reproduces the original policy proposal pretty much unchanged; which in turn is drawn straight from a Conservative party manifesto pledge. It seems that the consultation was a mere box-ticking exercise, paying lip-service to the of listening to experts, industry and the public, but without any intention to actually take the responses into account. Despite seeming open to criticism when we met in person, the official response makes it clear that they don't care what we think, and intend to go ahead with the proposals as if the consultation had never taken place. 

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Tags: age verification, ATVOD, AV consultation, AVMS, BBFC, BBFC guidelines, censorship, child safety, civil liberties, credit cards, Digital Economy Bill, digital rights, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, obscenity, Ofcom, politics, porn, privacy, surveillance, technology, young people

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Porn performers talk about the UK porn laws

Posted at 12:32 on 7 Aug 2016 by Pandora / Blake

I made this documentary about the UK porn laws about a year ago, using interviews that were shot as part of my sponsored caning fundraiser to raise money for Backlash, the non-profit organisation dedicated to fighting for sexual freedom in the UK. In case you weren't following at the time, this protest project was intended to help fund them to provide legal support to producers affected by the AVMS regulations, which had recently criminalised the depiction of a whole slew of consensual fetish activities in online porn. Myself and nine other spanking enthusiasts volunteered to take one hard cane stroke per £10 raised, to a maximum of 50 strokes per person. We made a colossal £3836 in total, which was donated in its entirety to Backlash.

Each of the ten sponsored canings was filmed and released under Creative Commons - you can view them for free at Dreams of Spanking. We shot an interview with each participant before the caning itself, giving them the opportunity to talk about porn criminalisation, censorship, and why they cared about the UK legislation enough to put their bottoms on the line to help fight it. It amused me no end that when ATVOD were investigating my site, they had to sit through these interviews and listen to lots of well-articulated criticism about themselves before getting to watch the free caning scenes that they were so incensed about.

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Tags: Alex Reynolds, Ariel Anderssen, ATVOD, AVMS regulations, BBFC, censorship, classification, documentary, Jilly Boyd, Nimue Allen, Ofcom, Pandora Blake, Paul Kennedy, porn law, Rosie Bottomley, Sarah, sponsored caning, Vincent Brennan

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How does it feel to fight the law - and win?

Posted at 18:10 on 9 Jun 2016 by Pandora / Blake

On Monday it was officially announced that I'd won my appeal to Ofcom against the ATVOD decision that forced Dreams of Spanking offline last year. "Congratulations!" people have been saying, "You must be over the moon." And so I reply that I am. I tell the papers that I'm overjoyed, because that's the story: I fought the law, and I won. This is my moment of triumph. Of course I'm delighted.

But how does it really feel?

Even here - my blog that is more political than personal these days, but still the closest thing I have to an online journal - I'm not sure if I should stick to the "official" story. You want to hear how happy I am, right? And I am happy. I am. I think. But the truth is that with events this huge, processing emotions can be more complicated than that. I've been struggling to access my happiness over the last few weeks, since I first found out that I was going to win. I thought that it would all connect up on Monday, when the win was announced, but I still find myself feeling weirdly ambivalent. And hey, this blog has always been about authenticity, so you get to hear all about it.

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Tags: appeal win, ATVOD, censorship, Dreams of Spanking, Ofcom

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BREAKING NEWS: Ofcom have upheld my appeal against ATVOD!

Posted at 10:11 on 6 Jun 2016 by Pandora / Blake

FEMINIST PORN MAKER THRASHES CENSOR

Pandora Blake, award-winning activist and feminist pornographer, has won her appeal to Ofcom against ATVOD and can reinstate her site Dreams of Spanking, which was banned under the AVMS guidelines in August 2015, triggering widespread anger among free speech advocates as well as porn fans.

The controversial Audiovisual Media Services Regulations came into effect in December 2014, banning consensual sex acts from online porn including facesitting, female ejaculation, and spanking that leaves marks. Pandora Blake took part in the 'facesitting protest' outside Westminster, and also spoke on Newsnight and Women's Hour challenging the sexist and regressive nature of the regulations. She believes that speaking out made her a target for censorship.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, censorship, Dreams of Spanking, ethical porn, feminist porn, Ofcom

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British fetish film-makers are organising against censorship

Posted at 22:35 on 28 Feb 2016 by Pandora / Blake

Today thirty British fetish film-makers met to discuss UK porn censorship, particularly the news that at the start of 2016 video-on-demand regulator ATVOD was shut down and re-absorbed into its parent body, Ofcom. The occasion was the British Fetish Film Festival, a new event that aims to bring film-makers together and showcase the diversity and creativity of kinky erotica produced in the UK and abroad.

Led by femdom pornographer, artist and activist Itziar Bilbao Urrutia - who organises with Backlash, the UK non-profit organisation defending freedom of sexual expression - we shared knowledge around the changing landscape of porn censorship in the UK, and brainstormed strategies to resist attempts to close us down. As Itzi pointed out, “putting all of us out of business is not going to stop porn being available online.”

Under the ATVOD regime, many of us were targeted for censorship, and some of us have had our websites forced offline entirely. Some, such as myself, have appealed to Ofcom regarding ATVOD’s decision - as Itzi did, successfully, in the wake of ATVOD’s investigation into her site the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell. While many appeals to Ofcom are still pending, that organisation has become the sole regulator of video on demand, and none of us knows how we will fare under the new regime.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, Backlash, British Fetish Film Festival, censorship, civil liberties, internet freedom, Itziar Bilbao Urrutia, Myles Jackman, Ofcom, porn, sexual freedom

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I criticised the porn laws - and was targeted for censorship.

Posted at 02:08 on 17 Dec 2015 by Pandora / Blake

Last November my friend Nimue Allen and I got together with our partners for a week to shoot some porn. We’ve both worked in the BDSM porn industry for years as performers and producers, and we were ready to delve deeper. We spent three days shooting a feature-length explicit documentary about our queer, kinky, polyamorous sex lives. We filmed interviews, video portraits, narrative sequences and hardcore sex scenes, capturing the intimacy and affection of BDSM play between people who love each other. The scenes were spontaneous and unscripted, a natural representation of the sex we have in private, and in the natural course of events they ended up including facesitting, fisting, squirting, caning, needles, breath play, dominance and submission and plenty of hardcore sex. It was authentic, caring and beautiful.

A week later, full of happy excitement about our new project, we learned that every scene we had filmed had just been criminalised under new UK porn laws. It would now be illegal for us to publish any of them. These honest depictions of our sex, pleasure and intimacy had been deemed so extreme that even informed, paying adults couldn’t legally watch them.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, censorship, Dreams of Spanking, Nimue Allen, Nimue's World, politics, porn, Restrained Elegance, sex worker rights, sexual freedom, sites and studios

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Where do the AVMS guidelines come from?

Posted at 22:13 on 13 Jul 2015 by Pandora / Blake

When I talk to someone about the AVMS guidelines, which control what content it is now legal to distribute online in the UK, their first question is always how on earth these regulations came to pass. Why is facesitting banned, but not gagging on cock? Why can UK video producers not show female ejaculation, but male ejaculation is permissible? Why are the guidelines weirdly specific on the details of a high number of niche activities only found within female domination porn - such as trampling, ballbusting, facesitting, scissoring, wrestling, urethral sounds, anal insertion and BDSM pain play - but no mention is made of countless other obscure fetishes?

A preview photo from Femme Fatale Films, which definitely doesn't depict any of ATVOD's banned acts.

After I describe these inconsistencies, the person I'm talking to usually makes a face as they try to imagine how such a bizarre list of banned acts could possibly be compiled. Perhaps they envisage a group of old white men sitting in a boardroom, listing all the fetishes they can think of on a whiteboard, deleting some and underlining others. Half the fetishes on the internet they have never heard of, so they don't get a mention. None of these old white men have ever made a woman squirt, so the consensus is that female ejaculation is a myth, and probably urine - better ban it. But perhaps some of them have guiltily visited a dominatrix or watched femdom porn, so those activities are on their radar - along with all the attendant anxiety of a repressed sexuality. It's potent stuff, they might think, but it's also clearly morally suspect. Best to remove the temptation and ban it all together.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, BBFC, censorship, CPS, fisting, kink activism, obscenity, OPA, politics

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ATVOD's Preliminary View on Dreams of Spanking

Posted at 23:05 on 7 Jul 2015 by Pandora / Blake

I spent all of May anticipating a letter from ATVOD regarding my porn site Dreams of Spanking, and by the time I went on holiday at the end of the month, none had arrived. I met with Ms Tytania (who successfully appealed to Ofcom regarding ATVOD's Determination against her site the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell in 2014) for coffee, and she gave me some more info on the appeal process. For instance, I learned that while her appeal was underway, she took her members section offline, but left her site and blog up. She also suggested that it might be months until ATVOD issued me with their Preliminary View (that is, their first report on the site and whether it is in breach of their guidelines) - they are pursuing lots of cases at the moment and in the case of UCSC, they sometimes kept her waiting a long time for a reply.

I came back from holiday feeling refreshed, and got stuck back into work on Dreams of Spanking with enthusiasm. The detachment and depression I'd felt after I first learned of ATVOD's investigation felt like a thing of the past. For a couple of weeks, I took pleasure in editing videos and promotiing the site.

Then I received a letter from ATVOD enclosing their Preliminary View on Dreams of Spanking.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, censorship, Dreams of Spanking, ethical porn, feminist porn

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Historical porn from the Museu de L'Eròtica

Posted at 00:11 on 2 Jun 2015 by Pandora / Blake

D and I have just got back from a lovely holiday in Barcelona, which is just as beautiful as everyone says it is. While we were there I made certain we had a look round the Museu de L'Eròtica on La Rambla. It's a small museum with an exhibition on sex through the ages, mostly dedicated to historical erotic art. The section on BDSM was disappointingly tiny, but the entry price included a free glass of champagne so I didn't mind too much. I particularly enjoyed the collection of 18th century European (mostly French, Italian and English) erotic art. Forgive the crappy cameraphone photos, but there were some images I just had to share...

I was struck by this drawing of two lovers engaged in acrobatic sex - one for ballet lovers everywhere. I like the way the woman is being lifted off the floor, gravity held at bay merely by the strength of an erect cock and one dainty hand. But most of all I'm intrigued by the feminine appearance of her lover. I don't think the concept of a trans woman (which was my first instinctive interpretation) existed in the same way back then, but there were definitely some gender-benders - is this intended to depict a male cross-dresser or drag queen, I wonder? Or is this sort of feminine appearance perfectly standard for a male ballet dancer of the time?

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Tags: ATVOD, censorship, fetish art, funny, Gender politics, historical, other pictures, vintage, watersports

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