Camgirl Laws and Legal Issues To Know About

Camming

Laws Impacting Pornstars / Webcam Models

If you’re researching becoming a camgirl or producing porn, one of the things you’re probably wondering about is some of the legal issues. Camming and porn is legal in most countries (it is in the United States) but there’s still laws and legal concerns that models should know about. Here are some of the major legal considerations you should know about before starting your camming career. Keep in mind that this post is mainly going to be geared towards USA models, but we’ll touch on international concerns as well.

 

NOTE: This post does not qualify as legal consultation and has not been drafted by a lawyer

 

It Is Legal To Be A Camgirl In The USA

The first thing people wonder is whether or not it’s legal to be a camgirl in the United States of America. It is. With other countries there are restrictions and it varies from country to country. The Middle East and Asia are the regions with the most restrictions on porn and the adult industry. Although camming is completely legal, there’s laws to be aware about. These laws range from taxes to standards camming models must comply with, and we go over all of them below.

 

2257 Compliance (Record Keeping Requirements)

The most important laws to know about is the 2257 Compliance Record Keeping Requirements. These laws lay out the age verification process and how each producer or website must document their performers and scenes. 2257 is the reason why all the camming or clip sites will require you to submit an ID for age verification. This is true for producers if you’re planning on doing mainstream shoots.

2257 vs Child Porn Laws: It’s important to realize that 2257 isn’t the same as child porn laws. Even if everyone in a scene is over the age of eighteen, but the scene isn’t 2257 Compliant, there’s still legal liability due to not keeping the proper documentation on file. It’s important to realize that if a minor is found to be in a scene or show, there could be child porn charges stacked up on top of the 2257 Compliance violations.

FSC Getting 2257 Declared Unconstitutional: The Free Speech Coalition, an adult-industry association, is currently in the process of getting 2257 declared unconstitutional and the federal judges are on their side in the matter. Even though this is a huge victory for the industry (2257 is outdated as it was written back in the magazine and DVD days) that doesn’t mean people don’t need to be compliant. The standards are a good best practice to ensure everyone you’re performing with is of the legal age, as the child porn laws still apply.

Bottom Line: Be Compliant and Keep IDs On File: Regardless of the future of 2257 Compliance, it’s the best practice and industry standard. Even if the laws get declared unconstitutional, there will be new standards put in place. It’s also the best practice and easy standards to stay compliant with. Bottom line: You want to make sure everyone featured with you is over the age of eighteen and you want the documentation to be able to prove it.

Camming Sites Take Care of 2257 Compliance: If you’re performing on a camming site, the camming site will handle all the 2257 Compliance. This is why they require you to submit your ID when signing up to the site. Clip sites are kind of a different ballgame. They’ll verify you, but many allow clips featuring a partner without requiring that they get verified with the network as well. When this is the case, the burden of 2257 Compliance is on you. This is why basic knowledge of the law is very important.

 

Tax Laws: W-9’s, 1099-MISC’s and VAT’s

If you’re performing on camera, whether it’s camming or clips, all the income generated is taxable. If you’re in the adult industry, you are a private contractor and not an employee. Because of this, there will be no taxes withheld from your paycheck, and you are responsible for saving money for when tax time comes along.

EIN vs SSN: When registering for a site, they’ll either prompt you for an SSN (Social Security Number) or EIN (Employer Identification Number). If you’re an individual you’ll submit an SSN. If you file for a company, you’ll provide an EIN, which is assigned by the IRS. We’ll go more over filing a business later on in this post. Some networks might prompt you for a VAT instead of an EIN or SSN. This is for European taxes and we’ll go over this in the section below.

VAT (Value Added Tax): The VAT or “Value Added Tax” is a European thing. If a company is prompting you for a VAT and does not ask for an EIN or SSN, that means that you’re not going to receive a 1099 from them. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay taxes on that income. Federal law requires you to report all income, regardless of whether or not you get 1099’d.

Tax Write-Offs: As an independent contractor or company, your business expenses are a tax write-off. This can include things like internet, a camming room, props, toys and other items, web hosting and more. To know what can be written off and what requirements are necessary for said write-off, it’s suggested to consult a tax professional or CPA.

 

Model Releases and Content Ownership

If you’re producing clips and plan on performing with a partner or doing trade shoots (shooting with other performers, where each performer gets the content to sell), model releases are very important. There are lawyers like Michael Fattorosi who have template model releases available at an affordable price. There’s also templates around, but it’s best to get one drafted by an industry lawyer to make sure it’s airtight. This prevents someone from trying to get you to take the content down or claim ownership when they have no rights.

Couple Camming / Clips (Boyfriend or Girlfriend): One of the most common scenarios where content rights and ownership comes up is with couples camming or couples clips. Performing with your boyfriend or girlfriend sounds like the easiest route to go when finding talent to perform with, but what happens during a breakup? It’s not uncommon for your significant other to request that all content containing them gets taken down. A model release can prevent this from becoming an issue, in the event that a breakup occurs.

Trade-Shoots / Collabs: trade shoots and collaborations with other models are very common and for good reasons! Not only is it an easy way to find a partner for shooting, but there’s promotional advantages as well. The two performers collaborating are able to cross-promote each other due to the collab, meaning that you can reach larger audiences through the shoots. When collaborating with other models, model releases and other agreements such as how to price the content is something that is worth discussing and getting in writing ahead of time.

Camera Person Should Sign A Release: Here’s an interesting fact: If releases are not in place, the perform who is filming the production is generally who the content ownership lands on. This might be a friend or significant other. Whoever it is, they should be signing the release, too!

 

Filing A Company: LLC Vs Corps

It’s possible to become a model without filing a business. Going this route, an SSN is used and the individual model is 1099’d. It’s also possible to file a business. There’s advantages of filing a business. The advantages are primarily tax-related, but there’s some other perks. For example; if the company is paying you, it can be more discrete than getting paid from all these individual companies that can easily be identified as being adult in nature. If you’re trying to be discrete with banking and other institutes, this can be a great route to go.

Katy Churchill wrote a great piece on LLCs vs corporations for webcam models that is worth a read.

 

DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is a very important concept for camming models and clip producers to know. This is due to anti-piracy. When stolen content is discovered on a website (whether a tube site, social media or any other site) DMCA Takedown Requests is how the content gets removed. Most of the camming and clip sites offer DMCA services for their models. There’s also DMCA agencies that models can partner with. It’s possible to submit requests yourself, but there’s some privacy issues that models going this route should be aware of.

Camming / Clip Sites Providing DMCA: If your camming or clip site provides DMCA services, this is the first route you should go with when trying to get stolen content removed. This is because it’s the easiest route and 100% free for performers. Keep in mind that some network’s DMCA services are better than others. While some are only submitting requests to infringing webmasters (who might not honor them) others will shoot takedown notices to search engines and other 3rd parties.

Privacy Risks When Submitting Your Own Notices: When submitting a DMCA takedown request, a full name and contact information is required. This information is listed publicly on the Lumen Database, with complete contact information. The infringing webmaster also receives this information. There’s been horror stories of models getting

Some Countries Don’t Honor DMCA: DMCA is an American law. Other countries might not honor DMCA. If an infringing webmaster is in a country that doesn’t honor DMCA, there is less incentive to remove the content. To get content removed from these sites, one must get creative and use all the other legal options available. This is where partnering with a DMCA agency is a good route to take, as this is their field of expertise and they know all the options and tools at their disposal.

Where You Can Submit DMCA Takedowns: DMCA takedown requests can be submitted to a wide range of places. The infringing party is the first step. If it’s a big-box tube site or other major network, they’ll always honor DMCA requests. Other places that DMCA takeodown notices can be submitted include search engines, hosting companies, domain registrars and the traffic companies or affiliate networks that infringing webmasters are using to monetize their websites.

DMCA Doesn’t Require A Trademark: We’ll go over trademark a little bit more further down. It’s important to know that you don’t need a trademark or to anything similar to file a copyright claim. You are the producer of the content, therefore you own the rights to it. It’s as simple as that.

 

Avoid Public Nudity / Public Sex Acts

Perhaps you’ve heard of the famous library camgirl who went viral. That might have boosted her career, but that’s not the type of publicity the industry needs and is also very illegal in most places. Although there are some places where certain types of public nudity is legal, like in New York City you can walk around topless, it’s very limited. Public sex acts? That’s a whole other topic! In general: It’s best to avoid public nudity and sex acts all together.

Obscenity Laws / Public Indecency Laws: The United States has many different obscenity laws and public exposure laws. There’s federal obscenity laws as well as state-level obscenity laws.

Filming Outdoors On Private Property: The best workaround to public / outdoor shows and clips is filming on private property. You’ll want to be on property where no one will be you and nobody will appear in the clips. You can create the illusion of being out in public while really being on private land.

2257 Compliance / Other People In The Shot: The other reason why you should avoid shooting in public is due to the risk of other people ending up in the shot. By [American] law, anyone in the scene must be age documented. When shooting in public, you don’t know that everyone is over the age of eighteen and you don’t have anyone’s age documentation.

 

Offering In-Person Services (SESTA / FOSTA)

Date raffles used to be a very popular thing. Especially when performers were attending major events like AVN. This all changed with the passing of SESTA / FOSTA, which was meant to target the online promotion or enabling of escort services. With the passing of SESTA, basically every network (clip site, camming site ect) made it so in-person services are against their services. There’s also different permits required for in-person services, and this varies based on location. All legal escorts are required to obtain these permits, as are sugar babies or anyone else offering companionship services in a similar nature.

Most Camming / Clip Sites Don’t Allow It: This is important to know about, as even if the proper permits / licenses for in-person are obtained, you’ll still want to be complaint with the various sites you’re working on. Very few sites allow date raffles, fuck a fan or any other in-person services. Most sites completely dropped it due to the passing of SESTA / FOSTA.

Privacy / Security Concerns With In-Person: There’s other reasons outside of legal or site policy that you might not want to offer any sort of in-person services. There’s privacy and security concerns with offering these kind of services. Online interaction is safer. Even if you the person is a regular customer of yours, you never know how they’re going to act in-person.

 

Trademark Laws

Trademark laws is something that is good to know about. You don’t want to violate another companies trademarks. You might also want to trademark your own brand for a number of reasons. It can help with piracy and it can also prevent people from using your stage name in a way that you don’t want or consent to. Trademarks are fairly affordable, but make sure the trademark is filed correctly to make sure it’s airtight!

Trademarking Your Performer Name: It’s a good idea to trademark your performer name. This will prevent another model from trying to go by the same name or by using your stage name in a way that you don’t want. It also prevents someone from trademarking your stage name and trying to hit you with a trademark case.

Trademarking Your Logo / Watermark: Trademarking a logo and using it as a watermark can help with anti-piracy. Since the watermark is contained on every video or photo, this makes all your content trademarked. There’s a lot of advantages to this, especially when it comes to anti-piracy. Going this route, you’ve got DMCA and trademark laws working in your favor.

Don’t Violate Another Company’s Trademark: This is most commonly seen in website names (cyber-squatting). Whatever you do, do not use another company’s name in a website name or in other ways that could violate trademark. For example; a model might register a website name with “Snap” or “Snapchat” in it, then have it redirect to the network they’re selling premium Snapchat on. This is a trademark violation against Snapchat.

 

Credit Card / Payment Processor Terms of Service

When dealing with what you can and can’t do on camera, sometimes the payment processors and credit card companies have more control over the content than the governments do. This is because everyone relies on them to take payments. The various payment processors and credit card companies have their own standards as far as what they will and won’t provide services for, including prohibited content. Anything they prohibit will be against the content policy / TOS of the various camming and clip sites providing payments for them, or they’d risk being dumped by their payment processors and left without behind able to accept payments from customers or payout models.

Camming / Clip Sites Will Ban Non-Compliant Models: For this reason, if they find non-compliant models, they will not hesitate to ban first and ask questions later. It’s not worth it for the network to compromise their entire business over a single performer. For that reason, it’s important to review your the policies of the sites you plan on performing on and making sure that your content is completely compliant.

How Cryptocurrency Is Disrupting Payment Processor Control: Cryptocurrency is playing a major disruptor to the adult camming and clip space. One of the reasons is because crypto has no content policies. Camming and clip sites that are completely crpyto-driven must only stay compliant with the laws the company is based out of. Models performing on these sites must only stay compliant with their local laws, as well as the laws from the country that the company is based out of.

 

Guide To Becoming A Camming Model

If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance that you’re interested in becoming a webcam model. We’ve got a complete guide that goes over everything you need to know. Learn the requirements on how to get started, how the camming sites work, the verification process and tips and tricks that will make your camming career more successful.

Learn More: Learn How To Become A Webcam Model

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