Friday, August 05, 2005

Porn and prostitution

The question of how to distinguish prostitution from hardcore pornography is a difficult one (I'm not sure there actually is much of a distinction). Hillel Levin notes an attempt by a judge to distinguish the two. The difference is supposed to be that prostitution involves paying someone to have sex with you, whereas pornography involves paying someone to have sex with someone else. As Levin correctly observes, this leads to weird results when the producer of the pornographic film wants to act in it himself.

But the first thing I thought of, which Kaimi Wenger also picks up on, is that this system creates an obvious, huge loophole. Instead of paying the prostitute, a guy could simply give the money to a friend, who would then purchase her services. There is only one reason why I do not expect this trick to be used very often: if it becomes popular, I simply do not trust future judges to stand by this judge's decision. They'll come up with some sort of different distinction, but it's likely to be as tortured and unworkable as this one.

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