‘Dreams of Spanking’ Shutters in Light of Digital Economy Act

Article by · June 12, 2017 ·

One of the Digital Economy Act‘s stated intended purposes is “to provide for restricting access to online pornography” via age verification, among other provisions.

Though how age verification actually happens has yet to be determined, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), an independent film rating and classification organization akin to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), now has the power to block and fine any website showcasing adult content that does not verify ages. The organization is also able to compel other providers that, for instance, process payments or facilitate advertising to withdraw their services, effectively starving the domains of revenue. Jurisdiction extends to pay sites, tube sites, and other forms of open source content, as well as content sourced within the UK and globally.

Pandora Blake‘s DreamsOfSpanking.com is one of the first sites to close following twelve months of struggle associated with age verification legislation.

Per Blake, in an open letter dated 6 June 2017 and addressed to her beloved site:

[Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD)] singled you out for censorship, investigating you while ignoring other UK spanking sites. I still don’t know why this was, but I can guess: you became a target when I criticised the oppressive AVMS regulations in mainstream media. Or perhaps it was your queer and female-gaze depictions of masculine submission that singled you out as subversive. Either way, I regret nothing. Integrity and inclusivity are two of your core values, and I’m proud to have stood by your principles.

I endured the trauma of the investigation, the threat of being outed, and the bitterness of having to put you to sleep while you were in your prime. And then we won our appeal. We emerged victorious over ATVOD, gained the moral high ground and saw the whole organisation disbanded. Even better, we won the right to publish the content we had been prevented from publishing – and we’ve spent the last year doing just that.

She continues, sharing the aftermath of the ATVOD investigation:

When you re-opened after a ten month hiatus, you were in a state of financial precarity that put me in a triple bind. I’d hoped that if we generated enough press coverage around the appeal win it would boost sales enough to cover my losses, but since we re-opened you’ve never recovered your former success. I’ve been juggling three fulltime jobs: political campaigning against the Digital Economy Act, editing new content to keep you updated, and since neither of those things have been paying me enough to live on, I’ve had to somehow find time to do enough billable work to pay the rent. It’s been a tough year, and I’ve been able to give neither you nor the campaigning the attention you deserve. I’ve stubbornly persisted, because I love you and I don’t want to let go. But it’s time I accept that this isn’t working…

Morally and legally, we beat them and I’m glad of it. But in a practical sense, they’d already won before I even filed my appeal. They cut you down in your prime, wiped out years of carefully accumulated momentum and traffic, and turned you from a growing small business to an expensive hobby I can’t afford to continue.

And in a her closing comments regarding the impact of age verification:

I had hoped that this new period would be one in which you were a going concern, a profitable and liberated enterprise which could financially support me while giving me a space to express my authentic erotic self. But that’s not the world we find ourselves in. Thanks to the ATVOD hiatus and the Digital Economy Act, the economics are stacked too high against us…

The mandatory age verification in the Digital Economy Bill leaves me three choices. To maintain my current level of page views, I’d have to pay several orders of magnitude more than your turnover each day to age verify every viewer. This is obviously not possible. To avoid having to age verify non-paying viewers, I would have to completely reorganise the site – months of unpaid work – and put everything classifiable as 18 or higher behind a paywall. I’d no longer be able to use any of the preview images, trailers, or explicit promotional materials I’ve spent years making. We’d make fewer sales as a result of not being able to publically promote the scenes in the archive, unless I spent yet more time creating new PG-13 promo materials for all the old scenes. Not only would this be a colossal waste of my time, it would lose the transparency which was always one of our core missions.

The third option is to geo-block all UK site visitors – 40% of your paying customers – and suffer a corresponding loss of sales. You’re already barely covering your costs, and I’m not getting paid enough to keep updating you. None of the available options are going to improve that situation.

The conclusion is clear. It’s time for me to step away. In fact, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t updated you for several weeks already. It was late April when the emotional reality of this situation hit home. In early May I went into hospital for an operation, and ended my twelve year relationship with D. It’s been a hard month, and I’ve had a lot to deal with. But even without those unusual circumstances, this would still have been the right decision.

This is a very sad day.

Passages shared with permission from Pandora Blake. Read Blake’s full statement here.

Pandora Blake is a feminist pornographer, sex worker, and sexual freedom campaigner.  You can visit Pandora at PandoraBlake.com & (formerly) .


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