Understanding "Custodian of Records" legalese.
March 14, 2007 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Can someone please explain in plain English the US law Title 18, Section 2257, concerning "Custodian of Records" for the adult industry?

I am pondering developing a web app for 2257 compliance. I am looking to find out if this is even possible as I do not currently fully understand the law, and cannot readily determine if the law even permits keeping these records on the web as opposed to in file drawer in an office somewhere. Any help is greatly appreciated.
posted by Ezrie to Law & Government (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
From what I understand, the idea is that there is a easily known physical location that the government can appear at and request the records of the identities of the people in adult films. AFAIK, this is based on the idea of tracking underaged performers in adult films (see Traci Lords).

IANAL, but I think the law expects a file drawer that they can get warrants to examine.
posted by Argyle at 12:02 PM on March 14, 2007

Here is the law. I am think you need the records on paper. "shall create and maintain individually identifiable records" also "shall make such records available to the Attorney General for inspection at all reasonable times"
posted by lee at 12:15 PM on March 14, 2007

Similar existing site: http://www.usc2257.com/
posted by smackfu at 12:20 PM on March 14, 2007

Best answer: Start with the Cliff's notes of the Internet: that portion of Title 18 was enacted as the "Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act" if you need more general info.

Secondly, as you're reading that entry, you'll see references not only to 18 U.S.C. § 2257, but also 28 C.F.R. § 75 (available, e.g., here). The way lots of statutes work, including this one, is that Congress will pass a law requiring, let's say, record keeping by content producers. Then, the agency responsible for enforcing the statute (here, the DOJ I think) will write regulations that define in detail what records must be kept and how they're to be submitted, etc. So the US Code itself is sometimes intentionally vague.

So, check out § 75.2 of the Regulations for a definition of what must be included in the records in order to meet code. If you need help understanding any of these terms, consult a lawyer- this is getting way beyond the ken of most programmers.

Lastly, at the end of that Wikipedia link, you'll notice a list of existing § 2257 record-keeping software vendors. You may want to check out some of those to see if you think you can realistically come up with something competitive, or whether instead you (or your client) should just buy one of those packages.
posted by rkent at 12:21 PM on March 14, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks you all for the info --it is most helpful. I am now confident that a web based app will work as one (at least) already exists. I really appreciate the help in understanding the statutes.
posted by Ezrie at 12:44 PM on March 14, 2007

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