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Why don't I move the site overseas?

After announcing ATVOD’s final determination that Dreams of Spanking is in breach of their ridiculous regulations, and that I will have to take most of the site’s content offline by 27 August, I'm being asked the same two questions again and again. If I had a pound for every time someone asked me this I would be able to afford my own legal fees.

I've already answered these questions in previous blogposts, so apologies for the repetition, but apparently it needs saying again. Please read, digest, and kindly trust that I have in fact thought about what I’m doing.

Why don’t I move the site so it’s hosted out of the UK?

Simply moving the hosting of the site wouldn’t help. When ATVOD are determining where a site is based, they don’t just look at the physical location of the server on which the site is hosted, they also look at the where the service provider is based (that is, the person or persons who own or operate the site). The relevant phrase here is “editorial control”.

If a site is hosted out of the UK, but the service producer is a UK citizen, who resides in the UK and makes editorial decisions in the UK, then for ATVOD’s purposes, the site is based in the UK. If videos are produced and shot in this country, edited in this country, and uploaded from this country, all these things contribute to bringing the site under ATVOD’s jurisdiction. If meetings are held in the UK, business decisions are made in the UK, and the programming schedule of the video-on-demand service is planned in the UK, then editorial control is, according to ATVOD, based in the UK.

Some producers have successfully avoided ATVOD so far by moving their hosting overseas,but keeping editorial control in the UK and hoping ATVOD doesn't notice. This isn't an option for me. I was on Channel 4 News talking about the new regulations after the facesitting protest, I've spoken on BBC Woman's Hour, at Conway Hall and at the National Theatre about my work as a porn producer, and there is zero chance of ATVOD not noticing I existed. Once they started investigating Dreams of Spanking, they would have quickly worked out that I was still operating the site from a UK base, and all the hassle of moving the hosting would have been for nothing. I have called too much attention to myself as an activist to be able to escape ATVOD by hopeful half measures.

In December, when the law came in, I was given them impression by the people I consulted that moving the site was not an option. After I got the first letter from ATVOD in February, and replied to it from a UK address, I began to work out that it might be an option - but by then it was too late, they already knew I was based in the UK. To escape ATVOD at any point since then would involve not just moving the hosting - I would also have to give up editorial control.

Giving up editorial control would look like this: I would sell the site to a friend in another country, move the hosting, the CCBill account, and the payments to their name, sign over commercial rights to all the archive content and everything I'd shot but not yet edited or published. I would no longer be able to shoot for the site, edit video for it, decide the update schedule or have any say in the running of the site. I would have to completely distance myself from the project in every way. Dreams of Spanking is a personal project, and as far as I'm concerned, once this had happened the site would no longer be Dreams of Spanking. It would no longer be mine.

Selling the site would mean killing it, stepping back, and let someone else reincarnate it as something completely new, based in a new country, with new cast members, new performers, and a new creative vision. I would lose the site completely - more completely than from ATVOD forcing me to take it offline, because at the moment I have the hope of a successful appeal, but if I sold the site, there would be no hope, and I would lose it forever.

Dreams of Spanking is my erotic autobiography, the expression of my own personal kink and fantasies, and I don't want to lose it. That's the whole point. I don't want to have to comply with ridiculous censorship regulations that would change it beyond recognition, and I don't want to have to give it to someone else who would change it beyond recognition, either. I want to fight for my right to keep it. That means appealing to Ofcom, and if that fails, taking the AVMS regulations to Judicial Review. If I win the appeal I can re-launch the site and keep it online exactly as it always was, with no ATVOD censorship, no guidelines to comply with, no fees to pay and no-one else telling me what to do. If I lose the appeal but win a Judicial Review, then I can get the law changed for everyone in the UK. This is something worth fighting for - and it's a plan of action that depends on complying with ATVOD's demands long enough for the appeal process to be completed, and keeping the site in the UK and under my control in the meantime. If I move the site overseas now, there is no hope of winning either the appeal or a JR.

If, a few years from now, both of these options have failed, then as a last resort, I would consider selling the site. But everything I've done so far, all the choices I've made, have been geared towards the goal of defeating ATVOD in a legal challenge. It would be completely self-defeating to sell it now, without seeing the plan through to the end.

Why don’t I move myself overseas, and emigrate to a different country?

Of all the well-intentioned, idiotic questions I am asked, this one hurts the most. It’s ridiculously insensitive to tell me that I should give up my entire life and everyone I love - to tell me that it's my responsibility to give up everything I have, implying that by not emigrating, what's happening is somehow my fault. If you want to support me, do not suggest this!

Emigrating is one of the biggest, most traumatic things anyone can ever do. It’s my decision to make, and mine alone. Do you think I haven’t considered this possibility? Of course I bloody have - I considered it and rejected it months before you even found out was happening. You are idly suggesting the first thought that popped into your head, and I've been living the reality of this struggle for nine months now. When you ask me this, you are suggesting that you don't think I've thought of the idea - which is pretty insulting. You also make it clear that you are completely incapable of grasping the enormity of what you're suggesting.

I’ve said this before but apparently it hasn’t sunk in, so I’m going to quote my previous post about this:

Quite aside from the stress and ultimate futility of moving away, however, this question makes me furious. The UK is my home. Why should I be the one to leave? I grew up here. My life is here. My support network, my partner, my friends, my history and my family are here. My partner and lovers couldn't come with me, and I don't want to lose all the connections I've spent thirty years building on these shores. I love these islands and I want to stay here and help make them better. I don't want to jump ship.

Attempting to persuade me and other UK producers that we should willingly exile ourselves is traumatic, stressful and victim-blaming. By doing this you are helping the censors who want to cleanse the UK of anything they find distasteful. Stop it.

ATVOD are threatening the future of independent, alternative, ethical porn within the UK. This is an issue I have devoted years of my life to, and which I care deeply about. I don't want to spend my time, money and effort running away. I want to stand and fight.

So are you with me - or not?

I believe that I have strong grounds for appeal - and that even if Ofcom don’t agree, that there is a very real hope that I can get the AVMS guidelines overturned in a court of law. That is the process I’m now embarking on, and it’s going to be stressful enough without you trying to tell me that I should give up without trying and run away. If I sell the site I will lose Dreams of Spanking, and if I emigrate I will lose my home. Do me a favour and trust that I’ve thought about this already, and that I’m choosing the path that is best.

My goal is to stay in the UK, stay the sole owner of Dreams of Spanking, and successfully challenge ATVOD's censorship. I am taking legal steps to make this happen, and I am going to see it through. The only result of your “helpful suggestion” will be to waste my time and stress me out, which is the last thing I need right now. So please think before you speak, and understand that when someone is going through a difficult time, they have probably spent far longer thinking in depth about their options than you have.

Comments

Thanks for a very clear explanation, Pandora.

The reasons for your not leaving the country were, I think, pretty obvious.

I think you're also right about the problems of transferring control outside the country. Some sites that have done so, with takeovers by Americans extremely well known - ahem! - to the original British proprietor, have subtly altered. I's youwho have made DoS what it is, and you need to remain in control. I hope the ATVOD-enforced hiatus is brief and that you are soon able to send it away with a very large flea in its mangy ear.

If I had a partner who was a citizen of another country and whom I spent half the year with, then this would be a different consideration altogether. But I don't, and anyway, this isn't a couple site, it's a personal one.

Thanks for understanding and for the friendly comment, it is greatly appreciated. I'm playing a long game, I know, and a risky one to boot - but then, that's been the character of the Dreams of Spanking project from the start. I stuck to my guns when I launched it, even when everyone told me M/M wouldn't sell (hahaha, how wrong they were!) and I'm sticking to them now, too. I've always been a stubborn one. I hope it will all prove worthwhile in the end!

A Word of Support

Dear Pandora

Like all people I've witnessed bravery in many forms, after reading your account regarding ATVOD's misguided efforts in attempting to gag your site; I wanted to say, as a very recent viewer of D.OS., that your stance is both brave and coherent. I cannot pretend to be so brave as you obviously are, but I would very much like you to know that your site's narrative of allowing people to realise their sexual fantasies, rather than they being suppressed seemingly by an un-elected unknown body of folk I neither know nor care; give me heart and seems a more healthier approach.

I have never managed to be fully honest with my kink, although I now know it's not as rare as I may have thought in the past. As I've gotten older I find I'm a little annoyed with myself, as I'm ultimately responsible for allowing or not; my true fantasies to be realised. What is truly impressive is that younger people work out what they are and want to be and have the nerve to do it, well done to you!

I will keep watch over your blog with keen interest, and maybe an eye may stray onto one of those female bums being spanked every now and then.

Yours

A.F.

Knowing what's best?

I had a flurry of these two questions back in December, and the thing that I found the most frustrating is the implication that I didn't know what was best to do for myself, my relationships, and my business, and that someone who has no knowledge of my life could know what was right for me to do better than I could know myself.

It's not possible to get a site to where Dreams of Spanking is now, without putting a lot of work, and thought into it. You have worked hard over the past few years, and I know from experience, that running a website involves making a lot of tough decisions, but most of these aren't as obvious to those who aren't involved behind the scenes. Making the choice you have to not sell Dreams abroad, or move out of the UK, is not an easy choice to make, and I have no doubt that you have spent a lot of time thinking through ALL your options in order to figure out what is best for you, and for Dreams of Spanking as a whole.

I really hope that the appeal process goes smoothly, and quickly for you, and that you're back to being able to share your Dreams of Spanking with the world again soon xx

Well it's very disappointing to hear this after it seemed that some of the inspectors were impressed by Dreams of Spanking. What I'm most concerned about is how I'm going to feel when I see porn sites that I think are absolute shit, but have somehow managed to stay within the law. Ok fair enough, Pandora is going appeal the decision. I really respect the way Pandora has handled confrontations regarding porn. I mean yes we've all gained "intimate knowledge" of Pandora through her websites and have learned to love her, but through seeing Pandora in "battle mode" I'm sure many of us have learned to respect her as a formidable defender of what she believes in too. I guess it's going to take time and effort before people start to look at spanking differently. Another thing that of course I'm going to have trouble with is the hypocrisy of fact that corporal punishment spankings which leave marks are still legal in some places. It's like love spankings vs. hate spankings. Ok, I'm not going to pass judgement on corp. pun., that's something for everyone to decide, but I hate that corp. pun. might be acceptable while erotic spanking isn't (not for $ anyway). So anyway, I wonder if anyone will be able to prove that restricting spank porn has had real positive effect on British society? I think consensual spanking is one of the most tasteful forms of sexual play there is frankly, but the people who have somehow ended up in control are treating it like some sort of perversion. Jesus, when I first discovered Dreams of Spanking it was so refreshing. I've never been to a porn site I'm as comfortable with as DoS. And the censors are saying it's part of the problem, not part of the solution. Fuck them. It's hard not to take this very personally. Well I'd like to be stubborn about this and go without porn before I go with their nice, normal acceptable porn.

Never Say Die

I hope you can overcome this Pandora, I will support you as always! xx

And so she did.

Congratulations Pandora, you've shown so much courage.

Never Say Die

I hope you can overcome this Pandora, I will support you as always! xx

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