Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Traci Lords

Crackdown Ahead?

Today, every X-rated website, video and magazine has a link or a reference to its "2257 Notice," industry shorthand for "Section 18 United States Code 2257," or "CFR 75," for "Section 28 Consolidated Federal Regulations Part 75." Most 2257 disclosures contain standardized language certifying the age of models found in the video, magazine or Web site:

"All models, actors, actresses and other persons that appear in any visual depiction of actual sexually explicit conduct appearing or otherwise contained in this Website were over the age of 18 years at the time of the creation of such depictions."

The disclosures must also give addresses for the "Custodian of Records," who maintains copies of the records confirming the identities and ages of performers.

New cases of minors acting in porn crop up from time to time. A few years after Lords' true age was revealed, a Canadian actress known as Alexandra Quinn admitted that she had made about 60 sex movies before her 18th birthday.

Alexandra Quinn
Alexandra Quinn

And the spread of Internet porn has made the sexual exploitation of children a growing problem. The Web created a vast new porn market for images and video.

Legal experts say few porn Web sites are in compliance with the 2257 regulations, because many feature second or third-hand content that is often shared or stolen.

To date, porn Webmasters haven't had to worry about federal enforcement of 2257 regulations.

Congress in 2004 approved a new requirement that the U.S. attorney general must deliver an annual report detailing federal prosecutions under 2257. Attorney General John Ashcroft was forced to reveal to Congress that the feds had not conducted a single inspection of 2257 records over the previous 12 years.

John Ashcroft, former U.S. Attorney General
John Ashcroft, former U.S.
Attorney General

Ashcroft's replacement, Alberto Gonzalez, has vowed to make enforcement of obscenity laws a top priority, and many in the industry expect a crackdown on 2257 violators. When that happens, Lords likely will find her name back in the headlines.

In the meantime, Lords wrote, her life has been good as she approaches age 40. She has become a screen sci-fi queen, and she said her second marriage has provided stability in her life.

But Lords remains angry at the porn industry, and she shudders at the cultural reach it has attained in America — perhaps due in some part to her ability to cross over from blue roles to legitimate work.

"I hate to think that I'm the poster child for a business I loathe," she said.