Last defense of nude-lesbian haters removed

Lifecasting site Justin.tv no longer has any reason to restrict nudity and sexual content on their broadcasts. This morning's news of a United States Court of Appeals ruling overturning the recordkeeping provisions of the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988, might have some effect on YouTube — but it's going to have a much bigger impact on lifecasters like Justin.tv.

The law placed onerous requirements on producers of sexually explicit material to maintain extensive dossiers on the "actors" appearing in their content. When Justin.tv first removed a broadcast for containing sex (one half of the tandem happened to be Nick McGlynn, a staffer at Valleywag publisher Gawker Media), we argued the site was turning its back on its best chance for traffic, in a bid to attract mainstream investors. Emmett Shear, the CTO of the startup, defended the decision in the comments by claiming the startup did not have the resources to comply with the law. It was a weak argument then, and now it's entirely invalid.

At the time, Shear stated:

As for sex — there are, unfortunate as it may be, laws regarding putting sex on camera. And we don't have the resources or capability to comply with those laws. We actually can't afford to become a porn site.
When the lifecasting site introduced an adult-content warning and age-verification system, I argued that no barriers remained to Justin.tv permitting true lifecasting. American law primarily restricts child pornography, not anything acceptable to consenting adults. Commenters argued on Justin.tv's behalf that the recordkeeping requirements of the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act would apply. To which I replied, the requirements had been stayed pending appeal and it was not clear if they would apply. Now, it is clear: lifecasting sex isn't what's illegal — forcing lifecasting websites to collect data about their users is.

Should Justin.tv become a porn site? Not that there's anything wrong with that. There are plenty of other sites, like PornoTube and YouPorn, willing to fill that niche in today's Web 2.0. When Shear said that Justin.tv couldn't afford to become a porn site, perhaps he really meant that it didn't want to tangle with the competition. With its legal shield removed, Justin.tv has been revealed as simply not up to the task.