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Q: Where can you film pornography legally and what permits are needed? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Where can you film pornography legally and what permits are needed?
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Movies and Film
Asked by: answerit-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 15 Apr 2003 08:56 PDT
Expires: 15 May 2003 08:56 PDT
Question ID: 190768
Where can you legally film pornography in the united states?  And what
permits are needed to do so? If you film pornography outside the
united states, can you sell it inside the united states?
Subject: Re: Where can you film pornography legally and what permits are needed?
Answered By: richard-ga on 15 Apr 2003 14:47 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello and thank you for your interesting question.

I will answer your question on the assumption that you would be
producing so-called 'adult' or 'XXX' films, of the sort produced by
Vivid and similar companies.  These types of films are commonly called
'pornography' but they are nonetheless protected by the First

The answer is that you will usually need to apply for a film permit,
but the permitting agency cannot deny you a permit on account of the
content of your work.

The Nolo website offers a question-and-answer on the issue, although
their answer is rather vague:
Getting started in the adult entertainment business
(Please read their answer at the above site.)

In the Los Angeles region, film production permits are issued by the
Entertainment Industry Development Corp., which issues nearly 1,000
permits per month.

In the San Fernando Valley, "one out of five shoots was a porn film,
even though these productions cost just a fraction of a Hollywood
release, according to the Entertainment Industry Development Corp.,
which oversees the granting of film permits in the area."
Michigan Daily

So in the Los Angeles area, there's no problem getting a permit to
film this sort of material.

Again, you'll find that many localities will have a permit requirement
for any sort of movie making, but they cannot deny you a permit on the
basis of the content of your film.  Of course you need to do the
filming out of the public eye--if your filming is in sight of the
public, you would be in breach of the same laws that prohibit me from,
say, mowing my front yard in the nude.

The zoning issue is pertinent when a retail store seeks to sell this
sort of product.
The legal history of Internet censorship and pornography in the US.
But the only time the zoning question is likely to come up on the
production side is if residential premises (i.e. premises not zoned
for commercial activity) are being used for the shoot.  This is not
likely to be a practical problem even if the shoot is inside a
residential dwelling, as long as the activity doesn't take place in
view of the neighbors:
LOS ANGELES, CA --Tiny Sleepy Hollow Lane in one of LA’s most tranquil
residential neighborhoods has been turned into an impromptu stage for
adult filmmaking. Since August, eight adult films have been shot
there, filming permit records show.
Adult-film production crews apparently like the modern interior look
of Marc Smith’s house, which the owner said can be filmed so that it
resembles such settings as a corporate boardroom or a nightclub. The
home’s secluded and opulent backyard swimming pool is also an
Angry neighbors contend city leaders and officials who issue film
production permits have been slow to respond to complaints about the
turmoil that the moviemaking is causing in the hilltop neighborhood.
One neighbor objected to scantily clad actresses going in and out of
the house and occasionally being filmed on the front lawn. "I’ve got a
13-year-old son. It’s not the kind of thing I want him exposed to,"
the mother of four said.
The complaints have prompted the Entertainment Industry Development
Corp., the organization that issues the permits, to take a look at the
Any areas used for nudity or sex scenes must be screened so they are
not visible to the public, said Darryl Seif, vice president and
general manager of operations for the EIDC. Because of neighbors’
complaints, Seif said he plans to meet with Smith.
Free Speech Coalition

Finally, there is your question of filming outside the U.S. and
importing the product.  Here again, as long as we are not talking
about illegal material, i.e. material not protected by the First
Amendment, you won't have a problem.
The government agency that protects the U.S. from the import of this
material is the Customs CyberSmuggling Center
"Dedicated to investigation of international criminal activity
conducted on or facilitated by the Internet. Our responsibilities
include money laundering, drug trafficking, Intellectual Property
Rights, arms trafficking, and child pornography."

Search terms used:
"first amendment" license "adult film production"
"united states customs" pornography

Thank you again for your question.  If you find any of this answer to
be unclear, please let me know.  I would appreciate it if you would
hold off on rating my answer until I have a chance to reply.

answerit-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Where can you film pornography legally and what permits are needed?
From: alexander-ga on 15 Apr 2003 10:56 PDT
I believe the answer to the second question is yes. I also believe
that you will need to have reasonable proof that all the actors are 18
or over on file (regardless of where it was filmed.)

The first question is a bit vague, and probably open to debate. Are
you interested in a specific region or regions, or would you be
satisfied with a (possibly incomplete) list of areas where is it most
likely legal?
Subject: Re: Where can you film pornography legally and what permits are needed?
From: answerit-ga on 15 Apr 2003 13:35 PDT
Thank you for your input, but I am not looking for "beliefs".  I am
looking for legal facts.  State laws (or county) that specifically
allow pornography to be filmed.  This also includes distribution of
pornography - whether filmed in that state or outside it.  Hence the
last question.  In the states that do allow it, what permits are
needed to film.
Subject: Re: Where can you film pornography legally and what permits are needed?
From: factsman-ga on 15 Apr 2003 18:30 PDT
Pornographic films may violate certain state sodomy laws. Some of
these laws are liberal in their interpretation of what constitutes
sodomy (e.g. Georgia). Further information can be found here:

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