Abby Winters is probably the widest-known Australian porn company; I’ve long loved I Feel Myself and Girls Out West: but they all they typify the non-porn-star, natural beauty and sex-postive, non-exploitative ethic that personifies how Aussie porn is seen by the rest of the world. Authentic amateurs, happy to be making porn because they find it empowering and sexy, and usually directed and shot by women. I’m not all that familiar with Abby Winters but have had great email exchanges with the people who work there. I have, however, been loosely following the Australian anti-porn campaigns in all their political permutations and airline screening Orwellian weirdnesses (a friend recently wrote me that people found with RedTube videos on their laptops had their computers confiscated upon entry into the country). Well, last month Abby had enough of Australia role-playing Mad Max on their business, so they packed up their fuzzy little punanies and their suitcases of money and went to where people actually want them to put their fingers in dykes: after a year of government persecution, Amsterdam is the new home of Abby Winters. No! Not fair! Can we appeal to the Geneva convention or something and trade Mel Gibson for Abby Winters!!?? PLEASE!?
I missed the details on recent developments, and upon reading, thought you might find them interesting too. Last June 2009, I reported that Abby Winters was raided and arrests were made; allegedly the company was making illegal “objectionable” pornography. (remember: this is not kinky porn, not by a longshot.) Abby Winters is run by G Media; G Media’s owner Garion Hall was arrested. He later issued a statement that the raid was initiated by a tabloid journalist at the Herald Sun.
One year later (last month, June to be exact), Hall made an announcement to the Abby Winters’ member forums that they had been charged, dropped and then charged again and fined and that because of this and the temperature going forward, would no longer be doing business in Australia. Abby Winters is relocating completely to the Netherlands (Amsterdam):
Our QC (defense attorney) made submissions about the nature of our business, that we are reputable, well managed, have excellent systems and protocols in place, and have been operating openly since our inception, 10 years ago. The magistrate accepted all the submissions made to her by our QC.
The magistrate fined the company AU$6,000. Because of the way the law could be interpreted in Victoria, the company had no practical option but to proceed the way it did.
abbywinters.com cannot continue operating in Victoria any more. The work we have done to date has been identified by the courts, and the company has been penalised, so that appears to be the end of the matter. Laws in the Australian Capital Territory are more clear, but not entirely so.
For this reason, we have decided to relocate abbywinters.com to Amsterdam, the Netherlands! We have now stopped all potentially offending shoots in Australia, and expect to be closing our doors in Australia for good in late June. Some of our staff (including Chloe B, Patience and Jacki) are planning to come with us.
Australian legislators seem to be becoming more conservative – the internet filtering bill (expected to be passed in early 2011), for example. The changes in legislation, contribute to our decision, but also Europe presents many more opportunities to grow and develop our business, and it represents a huge and interesting challenge for me personally, and our staff. (…read more, forums.abbywinters.com)
On July 9, Hall confirmed that most of the staff were in Amsterdam, were waiting for stuff to arrive and are busy setting up; they plan to be shooting by September 1 and have European content up by mid-September.
Seems to me that Australia just lost a substantial amount of revenue (not to mention the flagship site for what is seen as sex-positive pro-female porn). I just can’t see how getting rid of a company like Abby Winters is going to solve any of the issues Australia’s anti-porn pundits are trying to address. Except for the whole problem of free expression and healthy, consensual adult sexuality, of course. Problem solved! :(