The prop. 60 California Exposing Adult Film Workers To Lawsuits?

This ad was paid for by Californians Against Worker Harassment, which was founded by the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult entertainment industry, to oppose Proposition 60.

We asked ourselves: do Proposition 60 – a measure to curb sexually transmitted diseases among porn workers – really expose these same people to legal action?

We decided to verify this provocative claim.

Our research

California law has required condom use in adult films since 1992. Proponents of Proposition 60 say the initiative would strengthen existing law, which they say is rarely enforced.

The measure is sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has long called for stricter safety standards in adult films.

In 2012, Los Angeles County voters approved a similar condom requirement for adult films made in that county. He is considered a model for Prop. 60, which applies its condom mandate to scenes of anal and vaginal sex.

Proposition 60 would also require adult film companies to obtain a health license and pay the costs of vaccinations and health tests for sexually transmitted diseases for their performers.

We asked Campaign No on 60 for evidence to support their claim that performers would be open to prosecution under the measure. A spokesperson highlighted section 6720.6 of the initiative, on enforcement, whistleblowers and private rights of action.

It allows those who witness violations of the proposed law – including performers, prosecutors, or anyone residing in California – to file a complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. If the agency refuses to pursue the case within 21 days, then the witness could bring a civil action against anyone with a financial interest in the film, which could include certain artists.

There is no mention in Ad No of 60, however, that only artists with a financial interest would be liable. The ad also does not mention the complaints process that must precede legal action.

More porn workers with a financial stake

Still, opponents of the measure say the liability of performers is important because many have a financial stake in the content.

“You see, in today’s adult film industry, the majority of performers are also producers,” wrote Eric Paul Leue, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, in a opinion piece about Prop. 60 in The Advocate, an LGBT news post, this month. “In addition to shooting for studios, most pornstars regularly create their own content, either for their own websites, on webcams, or in partnership with studios.”

The prop. 60 would apply to all commercial pornography produced in California, in traditional films and on the Web.

Dr Chauntelle Tibbals, a sociologist who studies the adult film industry, said the percentage of workers who have a financial interest in adult content that they contribute “is certainly very high,” although she said it was not. there was no accepted estimate. Advances in technology and distribution, she said, have allowed more workers to share the financial success of their content.

“Anyone from webcam models to agents can have a financial interest in a single piece of content,” Tibbals added.

Proponents of Proposition 60, however, maintain that the claim that workers are exposed to lawsuits is misleading.

“The only people who can be sued (under Prop. 60) are the producers,” said Rick Taylor, who manages the Yes on 60 campaign. “Some actors and actresses are producers. If they break the law , they will potentially be sued. “

Taylor said the goal of the measure is to strengthen worker protection and public health, and that it doesn’t matter what percentage of artists have a financial stake in films.

Our decision

Opponents of California’s Proposition 60, which would require the use of condoms in adult films, recently claimed it would put “workers in the adult film industry at risk of prosecution and harassment.”

The statement is partially correct: Some adult film workers, and possibly a growing share, could face legal action if they have a financial interest in the content they are working on. But Prop. 60 does not specify what constitutes financial interest. Ultimately, it may be up to the courts to decide.

It is important to note that the assertion of the opponents does not mention that only workers with a financial interest in the films would be responsible and only after the initiation of a complaint process. Those who are independent contractors would not be subject to any legal action.

The statement leaves out this key context and gives the impression that some or all of the workers could face prosecution.

We rate the statement as half true.

HALF TRUE – The statement is partially correct but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.

Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select the facts to verify.

For more fact-checks, visit

This story is part of California Counts, a collaboration of KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio to report on the 2016 election. The coverage focuses on major issues and solicits diverse voices on what is important to the future of California.

Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #Accounts.

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