I received your 8 June Preliminary Views about alleged violations of Rules 1 and 4 (register and pay up) plus your new version of Rule 11 (access by minors) and the novel Rule 14 (nothing too naughty) and am availing myself of your kind exhortation to respond.
I am of course delighted that ATVOD consider my pride and joy a 'high quality viewing experience', and the concomitant suggestion it has 'a clear impact on a significant proportion of the general public'. That made my day. Thank you.
Life is full of ironies, and you have illustrated several beautifully.
Let's start with the 'Principal Purpose' test.
Dreams of Spanking is the authentic expression of my fantasies, my sexuality, my truest self. It takes the form of an erotic autobiography, documenting both my real-life kinky explorations with my real-life partners, and roleplayed versions of my fantasies, acted out in costume and purely fictional.
I am unashamedly a spanking enthusiast, porn performer, sexual freedom activist and blogger. I started performing in spanking videos produced by other studios at the age of 22, after nurturing a private interest in the subject since the age of 6 (long before I ever got online - I'm afraid internet porn isn't to blame for this one). Dreams of Spanking is my attempt to create spanking videos which are more authentic, more ethical and more woman-oriented than the material I helped make for other studios. It is the culmination of several years of inspiration and hard work, and it represents my personal spanking kink as honestly as anything I've ever done. I hope you enjoyed researching it.
Dreams of Spanking is a hand-crafted, homemade website. I got stuck into performing, producing, directing, writing, camera operating and video editing as an enthusiastic amateur, entirely self-taught and without any formal training. The only aspect of the site which boasts a professional standard is the design and development of the website itself, as that is what myself and my partner do for a living when we aren't indulging my spanking hobby. It's been a steep learning curve, but a fun one, and my hope is that like-minded viewers will forgive the technical imperfections which result from my learning as I go.
As an activist and feminist, I wanted to innovate and create a new model of socially conscious erotic imagery which catered to female viewers, and prioritised process over product. When I shoot for Dreams of Spanking, providing a high standard of working conditions on set, and a superbly positive experience for my performers, takes precedence over the quality of the resulting stills or video. As you know, I started out as a performer myself, and I mostly shoot with my real-life friends and lovers, so it is perhaps unsurprising that my first priority is to give my friends fun shooting experiences; the creative endeavour comes second. But priotising good working conditions for performers over profitability is also a political statement.
As a feminist porn/art project Dreams of Spanking innovates in a number of ways:
- Presuming a female viewer, and offering male bodies as well as female as erotic objects of the camera's lens - including male/male scenes shot for the female gaze.
- Offering equal pay to men and women, and paying male and female performers the same amount of money for the same role (I pay tops less than bottoms; again, as performer who primarily plays the bottom role, I am showing some personal bias here, but there is also the argument that bottoms should be compensated fairly for the few days that any resulting marks might take to heal).
- Clearly demarcating 'fantasy' and 'reality', with a strong focus on the real-world consent and enthusiasm of the performers. At Dreams of Spanking, any fiction that involves the performers engaging in make-believe and playing pretend games of 'non-consent' are clearly and transparently marked as such.
- An inclusive and diverse representation of gender and sexuality, intermingling videos depicting queer and straight encounters, and performers of all genders - including trans and non-binary performers - without preference or segregation. We also depict consensual dominance and submission as roles undertaken equally by men, women and non-binary performers without any implied gender essentialism. Dreams of Spanking is not a "female submissive" site or a "female dominant" site, but a site dedicated to spanking without any sex bias. In the gender-segregated world of online fetish videos, this is remarkably radical.
When I watch porn, I want to be sure that the performers were respected on set, that they share my kinks, and enjoyed the shoot. I am also aware that many women, like me, enjoy spanking and want to find respectful, woman-positive material which reflects our ethical values as well as our erotic desires. For years I considered the question, can kinky porn featuring women being spanked be feminist? I think the answer is a resounding "YES!" - and Dreams of Spanking is my small attempt at a proof of concept.
So as well as my erotic theatre of the mind expressed for others to glimpse, Dreams of Spanking is an activist project. I aim to answer the question "How can I tell if a spanking video is truly consensual?" by emphasising performer agency, consent, transparency, real-world context and social responsibility in all the scenes I shoot. This site is neither sleazy nor stereotypical, but an example of fairtrade, free-range spanking.
That was why I created Dreams of Spanking. I wanted to express myself, and I wanted to reach out to likeminded people. I think women like me deserve to be able to watch porn that is made with love - safely, transparently, and responsibly.
Dreams of Spanking is my kinky feminist manifesto. That is its principal purpose.
I find it fascinating that, like the femdom sites which have been disproportionately targeted by your organisation over the last few years, it is Dreams of Spanking - and not any of the more sleazy or stereotypical sites run by men like yourself - that is enjoying your attention. It is almost as if, under the pretense of making online porn "less harmful", you are in fact going out of your way to censor the very projects that are making porn safer.
As for the straining over the balance between written material, still photographs and video which came out of your Preliminary View - well, I found it frankly laughable. These days any creative project, even one curated by a single person with no professional credentials - just masses of creativity - can easily and cheaply avail themselves of consumer-grade technology, and, after a few years of sleepless nights, produce 'a high quality viewing experience'. Competing with traditional linear TV was never in my mind - the very idea that my homegrown, amateur erotica might seriously compete with commercial products is ridiculous. In that respect Dreams of Spanking is very similar to the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell. I'm sure you won't have forgotten how that turned out.
It seems to me from reading previous Determinations that when it suits ATVOD, any adult video is claimed to be 'TV-like', so I am not going to waste effort trying to convince you you are mistaken in your analysis. Though I will admit to being quietly gratified my amateur cameras and creativity convinced you otherwise.
Turning to my Rule 11 infraction, whilst I disagree that my material 'might seriously impair' persons under eighteen or that they would ‘normally see or hear’ such material, I did find it a bit concerning that viewers could sign up using a debit card as I was under the impression this wasn't possible via CCBill - at least that's what they said to me. I am in the process of finding out how to disable that capability.
As for payments by direct bank transfer or by post, since no one ever uses that I'll happily remove the offer, and the ‘Amazon Gift Card’, which is there because I am a voracious book lover.
I had not previously registered the significance of the dog that didn't bark, to wit 'Section 368E (5) draws no distinction between a still and a moving image: a still image included within an ODPS is therefore subject to the same restrictions as those applying to moving images'. However as Rule 11 now derives from the December 2014 SI your attack on stills falls within comments I will make below.
On to Rule 14, which we indies now refer to the 'face-sitting' rule after the demonstration before Parliament last December. Initially I thought you were having a laugh citing 'Ariel's Sponsored Caning' as constituting 'material which 'involves the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated', which is prohibited by the BBFC in a pornographic work' - but I have been solemnly advised that no, that is indeed what the BBFC think. Or perhaps more accurately, are forced by the CPS and Met Police to say they think, even if privately they think nothing of the kind.
The wording itself is ambiguous - "involves the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated". Can "infliction of pain" really be enough to categorise content as prohibited? Not only did this particular video demonstrably not cause "lasting physical harm", but it is foolhardy to attempt to assess the likelihood of lasting harm from graded camera footage. If you read the linked documents, you will see that it is ridiculous to use these marks as evidence that this caning "may have caused lasting physical harm". So I wonder if you are perhaps including 'Ariel's Sponsored Caning' simply as evidence of "the infliction of pain"? But that makes no sense, because the CPS guidelines on the BBFC regulations allow for "moderate" pain play which leaves transient marks such as reddening of the skin. So if infliction of pain is permissible in some contexts, infliction of pain by itself can't be grounds for censorship. In this instance therefore I conclude that you must be referring to "acts which may cause lasting physical harm", and not just "the infliction of pain" - and I am sorry to tell you that you are mistaken.
Lasting physical harm was evidently not caused, and if this document does not convince you, Ariel has kindly volunteered to produce her unmarked bottom in evidence. Please let me know when you would like to inspect it.
What I cannot fathom is why you expend such effort on sites such as mine, which are worlds away from the kind of propaganda you induce opinion-formers such as the wife of the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice to broadcast widely - the "hard, sickening, degrading porn - the kind of stuff that, until very recently, you could buy only under the counter or in licensed sex shops - some of the most depraved acts ever to be performed by one human being on another … things that are so seared onto my retinas that they will not, I fear, fade any time soon … young women, their faces contorted in pain; sexual vocabulary I never even imagined existed; human flesh displayed like meat on a butcher’s block … visions that, as the mother of two children aged 10 and 11, have genuinely led to sleepless nights and a kind of pressing anxiety about their future … a Hieronymus Bosch vision of hell made flesh ... unfolding in front of my very eyes here, in a small, neat office in the shadow of the great castle in the Queen’s home town of Windsor here with Peter Johnson, chief executive of the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), set up by Ofcom in 2010 to monitor the editorial content of services available on-demand on the internet, from your BBC iPlayer to companies such as Netflix and Sky". Such descriptions are infinitely more lurid than the safe, sane and consensual play depicted on Dreams of Spanking.
The disconnect between what you say and what you do is remarkable, even for an age in which politicians are increasingly despised for their two-faced behaviour.
On second thoughts perhaps I can fathom this messianic zeal - I'm told your CEO Peter Johnson is a very ambitious man who wants to make a reputation for himself and become the next CEO of the BBFC itself. My advice is, tread carefully.
Anyway, my substantive representation is as follows. Your Rule 11 and 14 claims rely on an implementation of the AVMS that goes way beyond the provisions of the underlying Directive 2010/13/EU. Whilst I accept that in certain quarters it is currently in vogue to blame all the ills of society on those dastardly continentals, when approving the Treaty to join the EU in 1972 Parliament anticipated this pernicious influence in the European Communities Act 1972, and under Section 2(2) granted a Secretary of State the power only to pass secondary legislation for the purpose of implementing any EU obligation, but to go no further - an interpretation buttressed by case law, in particular Marleasing SA v La Comercial Internacional de Alimentacion SA  1 CMLR 305.
Hence I submit the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014, which introduced sections 368E(2) and (3) into the Communications Act 2003, were made ultra vires the Secretary of State's power to pass secondary legislation.
Now I am sad to learn that when responding to previously expressed representations on this point, your Board simply claimed this is a matter for the Courts. Well, if that is your considered view, so be it. I do hope disclosure will not reveal ATVOD were well aware of the ultra vires issue but chose to ignore it, because that would be a rather irresponsible way for a regulator to behave.