For those of you who don’t know 2257 is the chapter of some new regulations the federal government is instituting on photographers that create nude photographs.  I’m not gonna go into huge detail on it, if you do a search online you can find out all that you need to know.  What I am gonna do is draw some parallels to a fictional law that will bring out many of the negative aspects of it.

The given reason for these regulations is to prevent child pornography.  The creators of this legislation believe that the new rules will decrease child pornography and give law enforcement new tools to combat it.  Those two simple sentences will get many people to support 2257.

My hypothetical example is a law against speeding.  Now you might say that speeding is already illegal.  You’re right, and child pornography is already illegal as well.  2257 requires creators of nude or sexually explicit content to do is keep certain identifying records such as name and birthday, and allow the government to access them whenever they’d like.  My fictional law would require all drivers to keep records of the distance travelled and the time it took on each trip, and also allow the government to access these records.

The more astute of you may already see where I’m going with this.  Why would someone that is breaking the law keep a record of it in a way that the government suggests?  If I’m going to take sexually explicit pictures of a minor do you honestly think I’m going to keep a copy of her ID on file so that the government can walk in and use the record against me?  NO! The only people who are going to keep accurate records are the people who are not committing the crime.  In my speeding law, if you travel 100 miles, and it only takes you an hour, are you really gonna write that down and prove to the government that you were going 100 miles an hour?

Some people will say that if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about.  Oh, really?  There’s some pretty significant penalties for failing to comply.  Up to five years in prison.  And that’s not just for willfully disregarding the law.  If you don’t know about 2257 or you make a mistake on something, you can still be punished.  You take some sexy pictures of your 45 year old housewife neighbor, but don’t keep the right paperwork, and you could go to jail.  In our speeding law, if I drive the 2 blocks to the convenience store for a half gallon of milk, but I don’t write it down, I’ve just violated the law.  It won’t matter to the government that I only went 25 mph and the speed limit is 30.

So what is this law gonna do?  For the people who create child pornography it’s not gonna do anything.  They were breaking the law before, they’ll keep breaking it after.  For the speeder?  Same thing.  Some people will just do as the law says.  They’ll keep the records, and spend all that time doing it.  Other people just won’t.  They will not change their behavior, legal or illegal, and will continue to do whatever they did before.

For others the law will make them question whether they want to do the activity they need to keep records for.  If I had to write down every time I drove the 2 blocks to Pizza Hut, or the Mall, maybe I’d walk.  How many photographers are going to stop taking nude pictures of anyone because of this law?  Perhaps that’s the actual intent of it’s creators.  They’ve tried to ban nude photography before and they’ve been unsuccessful.  This law doesn’t say you can’t do it.  It only makes it more difficult.  And that’s the first step isn’t it?  To get the people to not want to do something.

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