California’s Proposition 60: Condoms in Pornographic Films


California’s Proposition 60: Condoms in Pornographic Films

Prop 60 looks like a solution in search of a problem.

Voter Guide: 2016 California Ballot Initiatives

Prop 60 would require that performers in adult films use condoms during sexual intercourse, producers of adult films to obtain a state health license, post condom requirements at film sites, and pay for performer vaccinations, testing and medical exams related to STDs. It allows any state resident, performer, or the state government to enforce violations, and imposes civil liability for non-compliance on producers, distributors, performers and talent agents.

Fiscal Impact:

Likely reduction of state and local tax revenues of several million dollars per year. Increased state costs that could exceed $1 million annually to license and regulate adult film production and to enforce workplace health and safety rules. These costs would be offset to some extent by new fee revenue.

Proponents’ Arguments For:

Supporters of Prop 60 say it is needed to give teeth to federal law requiring condoms in adult films.

Adult film performers who won’t perform without condoms are blacklisted from the industry because producers claim wearing condoms hurts their profits. Performers are even required to pay for their own testing. All this results in more exposure to STDs and HIV and more STDs among performers than the general population. Prop 60 would hold porn producers accountable for the health and safety of their employees and prevents performers from having to risk their health to keep their jobs.

The California health care system bears the cost of STD and HIV among adult film workers, $10 million per year for HIV alone. Prop 60 shifts the burden from taxpayers to adult film producers and gives them responsibility for health and safety in their films.

Opponents’ Arguments Against:

This is the only ballot initiative in this election opposed by both the California Democratic Party and the California Republican Party. The adult film industry is already heavily regulated by county, state and federal governments and the industry has implemented enhanced testing and safety protocols. As a result, Cal/OSHA has not cited a single adult film production company for the transmission of any STD for over 12 years. There is no problem here needing Prop 60 to solve it. The only independent, all-adult performer organization in the state—in other words, the workers Prop 60 is supposed to be protecting—oppose it.

Moreover, opponents argue that Prop 60 has nothing to do with worker safety. They contend that Prop 60 is designed to fuel a lawsuit bonanza by empowering any lawyer to sue anyone in the business whom they think can’t prove they used a condom in a film. It creates a right to sue virtually anyone involved in a violation of the rule it establishes—even cable or satellite companies or the injured parties themselves can be sued. In fact, a married couple in their own bedroom who films themselves having sex without a condom and sells the film could be sued, clearly not protecting any workers. No other industry in California faces such lawsuit potential.

Additionally, Prop 60 requires adult film performers to disclose private information including legal names and home addresses to anyone who files an enforcement lawsuit under Prop 60’s new rules, creates a state official (who can only be fired by the legislature) to oversee enforcement, and requires state employees to be paid to just watch adult films. It will cost the state tens of millions of dollars, create a wave of intrusive lawsuits, and not protect any workers from any actual harms.


Prop 60 looks like a solution in search of a problem. California will become the first state in the nation to incentivize anyone who lives in the state to sue a professional for just doing their job, jumpstarting a lawsuit free-for-all driven by financial gain rather than anything resembling worker protection. Encouraging people to file lawsuits gain financial payoff from the defendants is a terrible incentive and will cost the state millions. Performers will become targeted by stalkers who will have access to their legal names and home addresses, putting them at greater risk for harassment and violence.

The risks associated with the adult industry are addressed in performer contracts, with many performers charging more to have sex in a film without a condom. Adult performers should have control over their bodies and their own sexual health.

Moreover, existing regulations govern transmission of STDs/STIs in adult film production and have found very little to regulate due to the effectiveness of voluntary systems in place within the industry. In the 1990s a series of outbreaks in the industry led to female performers demanding higher pay to compensate for the risks, and some companies began using condoms voluntarily. The industry also created an extensive system of testing and safety measures that have worked extremely well. In 2012 some adult film actors with syphilis triggered the industry to voluntarily suspend all filming to allow performers to be tested and treated and the industry to restart with the outbreak under control. As a result of extensive testing and industry oversight, Cal/OSHA has not cited a single instance of on-set STD/STI transmission in more than 12 years.

Voter Guide: 2016 California Ballot Initiatives