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Sextech, Porn and the Law - event writeup and slides

Posted at 17:30 on 18 Oct 2017 by Pandora / Blake

The Regulatory Framework Controlling UK Porn - by Pandora / Blake

I very much enjoyed the SCL (Society for Computing and Law) event on Sextech, porn and the law last week. It was hosted by lawyer Neil Brown, and chaired by Daniel Cooper. There was a sizeable audience and four speakers in total; in addition to Neil and myself, Sarah Jamie Lewis and Dr Kate Devlin.

Dr Devlin kicked things off with an engaging talk about sex robots, one of her areas of research. She shared some of the hype and misinformation that the media tends to indulge in around sex robots, and why a lot of it is hyperbolic and sensationalist. She talked about what sex robots can and can't offer; including a preview of the Harmony bot which is being developed in California at the moment. Dr Devlin went to visit the lab working on this project, and she describes the robot as a beautifully crafted silicon sex doll with an animatronic face and a recorded voice controlled by AI. They've got an in-house AI team and the AI is apparently remarkably good; you can chat to Harmony. The robot head mounts onto the standard sex dolls, meaning the body is poseable, but doesn't move independently. Read Engadget's report on meeting Harmony here.

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Tags: anonymity, Dr Kate Devlin, events, law, obscenity, politics, porn, privacy, public speaking, queer politics, Sarah Jamie Lewis, sex robots, sex toys, talks

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Sextech, Porn and the Law - A glimpse into the future of sex and sexuality and its regulatory framework

Posted at 09:00 on 21 Aug 2017 by Pandora / Blake

I am delighted to have been invited to speak at an event in October, organised by the Society for Computers and Law (SCL), entitled 'Sextech, porn and the law - a glimpse into the future of sex and sexuality and its regulatory framework'. 

I shall be on a panel with the fantastic Dr Kate Devlin, Sarah Jamie Lewis and laywer Neil Brown, and the event will explore the technology of sexuality in detail including its history, current and future developments, privacy and security, and legal issues affecting production and sales. My talk will centre on how the legal framework affects the production and distribution of online pornography, with a focus on the new Digital Economy Act and its forthcoming policy of mandatory age verification. After the four talks there will be a Q&A session which provides an exciting opportunity to ask the opinions of some of the leading experts in this field. 

The idea for the event was prompted by the interest in Neil Brown's excellent article 'Sextech: sticky legal issues?' which talks about sex toys that have internet connectivity, and the resultant data collection, privacy and security issues; and about sex robots and the various ethical issues around them. I really recommend a read. 

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Tags: age verification, events, law, obscenity, porn, public speaking

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Age verification - more questions than answers

Posted at 17:50 on 20 Aug 2017 by Pandora / Blake

Since the Digital Economy Act passed in April, age verification is coming to the UK - and the government have announced a deadline of April 2018. Thanks to the combined campaigning efforts of myself and various groups, we managed to get an amendment passed which averted the worst case scenario regarding prohibited content. But with web blocking still in place as a potential sanction, and no safeguards for user privacy, the Act still represents bad news for UK internet freedom.

I’m not the only one concerned about this. The Open Rights Group are also worried about the consequences of this badly-worded new law. This month I’ve had meetings with Executive Director Jim Killock and Legal Director Myles Jackman about age verification and what we can do about it. ORG have a long history campaigning for digital rights, and I've been a member for over ten years. We'll working together over the coming months to campaign on age verification and privacy, alongside my work with Backlash and as an independent voice.

I joined ORG in meeting Chris Ratcliff from the Digital Policy Alliance, the cross-party group consulting to the Government on the age verification policy, and also with a representative from the DCMS (the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - the ‘digital’ has been recently added), the branch of the civil service who are responsible for implementing it. The meetings were useful in allowing me both to make my concerns known, and ask questions to improve my understanding of the situation. Although I learned a lot, overall it seems that as far as age verification is concerned, there are still more questions than answers. 

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Tags: age verification, AVMS, BBFC, censorship, DCMS, Digital Economy Act, Digital Economy Bill, Digital Policy Alliance, digital rights, Mindgeek, obscenity, Ofcom, Open Rights Group, porn, porn law

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Feminist Porn: where to find it and how to feel good watching it

Posted at 09:40 on 16 Aug 2017 by Pandora / Blake

Feminist Porn: where to find it and how to feel good watching itI'm really excited to be giving a workshop on ethical porn and how to find it, on Thursday 31 August. It's part of the Sex Ed for Grown Ups series of events on sex, sexuality and gender, held at The Book Club in Shoreditch, London. I shall be talking about what makes porn ethical, and how to find porn you feel comfortable watching. Porn is a very personal topic, and some people's squicks are other people's squees. But it's a fact that the free tube sites where a lot of people browse for porn don't make it clear whether what you're watching was consensually or ethically produced, and don't include much material by queer and feminist producers.

I'll be sharing some of my favourite porn which has not been created for the straight male gaze, but instead centres the pleasure of queer and female performers. The evening will include some screenings of hot feminist porn clips, plus the opportunity to discuss what we see. I'll give advice about how to be an ethical porn consumer and find porn where the performers were treated well. I'll also talk a bit about my experiences as a performer and producer in the porn industry.

The workshop is on the evening of Thursday 31st Aug and costs just £6 + £1 fee, so it's super affordable. Tickets are available here on The Book Club website. It should be a fantastic event - I hope to see some of you there!

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Tags: ethical porn, events, fairtrade porn, feminist porn, film screenings, porn, queer porn, teaching, workshop

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A new conversation about 'ethical porn'

Posted at 17:26 on 12 May 2017 by Pandora / Blake

I'm really pleased to be featured on a newly-launched site, ethical.porn, a fantastic timely addition to the conversation about the politics of porn production - click here to read my contribution. This is a really important issue to me: as a producer and director my production ethos is always performer-centric, and prioritises transparency, explicit performer consent, and equal pay for equal work. My work as a performer has informed my politics about porn working conditions and I hope that even when I'm directing, I still see things from a performer's perspective.

I look forward to following the conversation - there are some fantastic contributions on the site, including by feminist porn pioneers such as Shine Louise Houston and Ms Naughty. I hope this will have some influence on the often overly simplistic mainstream and feminist discourse about porn, and complicate the standard takes on the issue with some much needed nuance and critical thinking.

The mission statement of the site is as follows:

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Tags: decriminalisation, ethical porn, fairtrade porn, feminist porn, politics, porn, sex worker rights, working conditions

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BREAKING: Digital Economy Act 2017 receives Royal Assent

Posted at 18:05 on 29 Apr 2017 by Pandora / Blake

I'm told that a grand total of 13 MPs showed up to the House of Commons vote on the Digital Economy Bill. If so, it's a pretty damning indictment of the democratic process. Rushing to get legislation through before Parliament recesses for the election campaign, a total of 21 Acts of Parliament received Royal Assent yesterday - and the newly minted Digital Economy Act 2017 was one of them.

After it was passed by the Commons, the Bill bounced back to the House of Lords for final consideration. I've only skimmed the transcript of the debate  so far, but as far as I can tell there were no substantive changes to Section 3, covering age verification for online porn.

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Tags: age verification, Digital Economy Bill, in the news, politics, porn

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How the Digital Economy Bill will affect sex workers

Posted at 12:00 on 27 Apr 2017 by Pandora / Blake

I'vee uploaded a new video to my YouTube channel, explaining in succinct and simple terms how the UK's forthcoming Digital Economy Bill and age verification for online porn will affect sex workers both in the UK and overseas. If you publish adult content (still images or video) online and receive any income from doing so, this will affect you. Please watch and share!

Videos like this are made possible by my Patreon supporters - if you want to help me create more free-to-access public resources like this about UK porn censorship, obscenity law or any other issues, please donate - even $1 a month is valuable, and every penny adds up to time I can spend campaigning on behalf of our community.

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Tags: age verification, Digital Economy Bill, politics, porn, sex worker rights

 

Huck Magazine article on indie porn

Posted at 22:02 on 5 Apr 2017 by Pandora / Blake

You may remember my post last month, telling how I had a journalist and photographer over to my home one evening to watch me and Blath shooting a ritualistic, witchy content share scene. Well, the photos and resultant article are now available in Huck Magazine.

The piece contains some good stuff: talks in a positive way about queer kinky porn, critiques the Digital Economy Bill and Age Verification, and quotes Vex Ashley and Bishop Black along with me and Blath. It also does a bit to center our work in the historical context of political porn, rather than trying to claim that we are inventing it (as a lot of journalists do when they hear about alt porn for the first time). And at least there isn't any pointless "can porn be feminist???" questioning. I have to admit I'm also struck by the pictures - the photographer did a great job of capturing the dark sexy vibes of the scene (credit to Blath for the arty lighting). Sequins and "decriminalise sex work" postcards: yup, that's a queer porn set.

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Tags: age verification, Blath, Digital Economy Bill, ethical porn, fairtrade porn, feminist porn, media, porn, queer porn

 

Queer Porn at the British Film Institute

Posted at 14:51 on 28 Mar 2017 by Pandora / Blake

Myles Jackman, Jiz Lee, Pandora Blake and Jay Bernard at Sexit, BFI Flare

When I started making spanking films I never once imagined that I would get a chance to screen them at the British Film Institute. Porn - especially queer porn and fetish porn, and Dreams of Spanking is firmly in both camps - is in many ways innately counter-cultural. When I launched the site I didn't expect the draconian criminalisation that would follow; but equally I didn't expect that queer porn, specifically my queer spanking films, would be considered cultural enough to be shown somewhere like the BFI.

It's a bittersweet juxtaposition, perfectly illustrated by something I noticed when I arrived at the BFI for Flare, the LGBTQ film festival, at which I was taking part in a panel discussion around how porn law affects queer porn. The banner across the Flare reception desks proclaimed the sponsors of the event; and there on the left was the legend "Supported by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport." How ironic that the very department of the civil service supporting this event is the one which introduced a statutory instrument in 2014 criminalising many forms of queer porn, including my own. It was surreal to speak about that criminalisation, to a sympathetic audience eager to learn how they can resist state oppression, at an event supported by the very public body responsible for that oppression. For me, that dissonance aptly summarised the widening gap between legislation imposed from above by those who have no clue about sexuality or sex work, and an increasingly open-minded public who mostly consider the sex lives of consenting adults to be their own damn business.
 
Before the panel proper, I recorded a video interview alongside queer porn icon Jiz Lee, and Chocolate Chip, who stars in Snapshot, the new "porn noir" sexy whodunnit by Shine Louise Houston, with questions asked by Flare programmer Jay Bernard. Jay is one of the curators of the festival, and they did an amazing job co-ordinating the Sexit panel and programming queer films that center people of colour. The interview was intended to be streamed via Facebook Live, but apparently the BFI is an old old building with shitty connectivity, so it was recorded instead - I'll link the video as soon as it's available. 

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Tags: activism, Digital Economy Bill, Dreams of Spanking, ethical porn, Extreme Porn legislation, fairtrade porn, feminist porn, Gender politics, Jiz Lee, kink activism, listen to sex workers, Myles Jackman, obscenity, porn, queer porn

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2016 year in review - highlights and reflections

Posted at 13:35 on 11 Jan 2017 by Pandora / Blake

Happy new year! It's traditional to do an end of year review, and I've been chewing over my 2016 one. Damn, it was a hell of a year; comparable in craziness only to the year before it. Here are the headlines:

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Tags: Bright Desire, Charlie J Forrest, Digital Economy Bill, Dreams of Spanking, Eroticon, media, Nimue Allen, Parker Marx, politics, porn, School of Erotic Mysteries, Tai Crimson, year in review, Zak Jane Keir

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