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Pretend there is a British person in the United Kingdom (England & Wales jurisdiction), that for some legally justifiable reason needs to obtain the name (and other information) of a female adult video actress in the United States of America. The video in question is legal (all parties are 18 years or older) and is available on a both well known and popular adult video website.

Are there laws in the United States which obligate adult video websites to retain personal information (such as first and second names) of the actors/actresses in the videos uploaded on their website? If so, could someone please provide them?

I am unsure as to whether it would be a Federal, State, or other law as I am not familiar with the United States legal system. To make an educated guess, I assume it would be Federal since it concerns somebody from outside the US making a request, but I might be wrong.

EDIT: As per Trish in the comments, if this is something applicable to the film producers rather than the adult video website (or whatever) just inform me accordingly.

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    Careful: Most hosts of adult material actually host copyright infringing material, as in pirated copy of material sold or streamed elsewhere. In any way, in most cases, actors in adult films act under a "pen name". Only the film company knows their proper names in many cases.
    – Trish
    Oct 25, 2022 at 20:28
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    "for some legally justifiable reason needs to obtain the name (and other information)" - I wonder what this reason could possibly be. Perhaps you are the executor of an eccentric person's last will and testament, which bestows their worldly possessions to an adult film actress of uncertain identity? Perhaps you recognise them as your long lost identical twin, or they are depicted in the video wearing a unique piece of jewellery stolen from your ancestors? If it's not something extraordinary like that, then I would strongly recommend against trying to invade this person's privacy.
    – kaya3
    Oct 26, 2022 at 6:01
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    @kaya3 I doubt recognising them as a long lost identical twin would constitute a legitimate reason for requesting the PII. It'd be a reason to reach out to the actor through usual informal methods (e.g. twitter), but if I ran such a website and had the PII I certainly wouldn't provide it to someone just because they claimed to be a long lost relative (even an identical twin)
    – Tristan
    Oct 26, 2022 at 9:21
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    Just to put it more bluntly than @kaya3's delicate comment: Notwithstanding the text saying "some legally justifiable reason", this type of question overwhelmingly suggests that somebody wants to stalk, either in person or digitally, a performer. Legal or otherwise, that is a hostile and unpleasant thing to do (and I write for future readers/answerers of the question who may have reached it from Google, not specifically the OP).
    – dbmag9
    Oct 26, 2022 at 13:01
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    The rape-allegation example lacks hand and foot: if someone is alleged to have raped someone, they can file discovery against the witness to impeach it, because the witness is already on the list of witnesses. Getting the PII from the website would not be needed at all. Instead, the defendant's attorney can ask "Have you worked in the adult entertainment industry? Is this you on the video?" - which by the way will be seen as very poor taste by many juries - alleging that an actor can't be raped is absolutely rock bottom behavior for an attorney and could get disciplinary action rolling.
    – Trish
    Oct 29, 2022 at 23:53

1 Answer 1

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Are there laws in the United States which obligate adult video websites to retain personal information (such as first and second names) of the actors/actresses in the videos uploaded on their website? If so, could someone please provide them?

In the U.S. producers of adult material are required to keep information about the age of their performers pursuant to 18 U.S. Code § 2257 and 18 U.S. Code § 2257A which is part of "The Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988", and 28 C.F.R. 75 which contains regulations adopted related to that Code section. See also U.S. Justice Department commentary on its website. You can read the full text at the links. The information must be retained for seven years after they are created or last amended, unless the business goes out of business less than two years after the records are created or last amended, in which case the records must be maintained for five years after the business ceases to operate.

They key language of Section 2257 states:

(a)Whoever produces any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, digital image, digitally- or computer-manipulated image of an actual human being, picture, or other matter which—

(1)contains one or more visual depictions made after November 1, 1990 of actual sexually explicit conduct; and

(2)is produced in whole or in part with materials which have been mailed or shipped in interstate or foreign commerce, or is shipped or transported or is intended for shipment or transportation in interstate or foreign commerce;

shall create and maintain individually identifiable records pertaining to every performer portrayed in such a visual depiction.

(b)Any person to whom subsection (a) applies shall, with respect to every performer portrayed in a visual depiction of actual sexually explicit conduct—

(1)ascertain, by examination of an identification document containing such information, the performer’s name and date of birth, and require the performer to provide such other indicia of his or her identity as may be prescribed by regulations;

(2)ascertain any name, other than the performer’s present and correct name, ever used by the performer including maiden name, alias, nickname, stage, or professional name; and

(3)record in the records required by subsection (a) the information required by paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection and such other identifying information as may be prescribed by regulation.

Section 2257A extends this requirement to simulated sexual content.

The regulations spell out the details requirements more specifically with more precise definitions.

Much of this information may only be disclosed to specified individuals and is not necessarily available to members of the general public in the absence of an investigation authorized by the U.S. Attorney General.

But access to these records is not governed by these statutes and regulations. An objection to a subpoena and request for a protective order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 (and related rules) or the equivalent state court rule would be the usual process for litigating that point. Whether the reason asserted is really justifiable would be a question for other law (usually under the law of California where most adult material in the U.S. is produced).

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    California also has unusually strong privacy laws restricting what companies can store or give out, so it would be particularly hard to get information from a Californian company without a strong reason to do so.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 26, 2022 at 15:29
  • Note that some courts have suggested that § 2257 may be unconstitutional in some circumstances - see meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikilegal/…
    – Smitop
    Oct 26, 2022 at 17:37
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    @Smitop The cases cited are quite old and a finding of unconstitutionality hasn't come dow in the meantime.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 26, 2022 at 17:55
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    Would it be worth mentioning that in many cases, the website hosting the material is not the "producer" of the material with a record keeping obligation? Oct 26, 2022 at 22:55
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    @AldusBumblebore I am not familiar at that level of detail with how the online pornography industry is organized from an economic perspective. I know where the statutes are located and what they say, but not how things are usually done in the industry.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 26, 2022 at 23:52

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