CFP: Dirty, Sexy Policy Conference

This call is now closed. Please click here to read more about the conference and its incredible panelists.


Call for Proposals: Dirty, Sexy Policy Conference

February 20-21, 2014 at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Keynote speakers: 

  • Nicholas Johnson, former FCC Commissioner and Visiting Faculty, University of Iowa College of Law  
  • Des Freedman, Reader in Communications and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London

The Carsey-Wolf Center’s Media Industries Project [MIP] announces a call for participants in the Dirty, Sexy Policy Conference at UC Santa Barbara.

As media attention to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act [SOPA/PIPA] in 2012 and the National Security Agency’s massive data gathering program, PRISM, has shown, concerns about the regulation of content and the conduits through which it travels have intensified in the age of digital data. But these media reports rarely address the critical junctures that inform and unify content and structural policy debates. Those who concentrate on the regulation of obscenity and indecency do not typically engage with those who specialize in media infrastructure and broadband policy, and vice versa. Moreover, while policy scholars engage with legal and journalistic reporting in their research, they seldom share their concerns and strategies with those stakeholders to collectively pursue more relevant and effective media policies. To bridge this divide, Dirty, Sexy Policy will bring together prominent scholars, attorneys, regulators, and journalists to explore the challenges facing current media policy and those it affects.Panelists will not be asked to present a written paper but instead will participate in a lively discussion and debate through a moderated Q&A. Participants on three panels will explore content regulation of obscenity and indecency, structural regulation of broadband technologies, and the broader stakes that policy critics share. A fuller description of the questions driving each panel is below.

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Confirmed panelists include Jeffrey J. Douglas and Diane Duke (Free Speech Coalition), Blair Levin (The Aspen Institute), Jacob Sullum (Reason and Forbes), Stephen Yagielowicz (XBiz World), Becky Lentz (McGill University), and Philip Napoli (Fordham University).

To apply to participate as a panelist, please submit the following to Karen Petruska at

1). A 300-word commentary about an issue relating to ONE of the panels below (please indicate in the subject line of your email to which panel you are responding). 

2). A 100-word biographical statement.

The deadline for proposals is October 15, 2013. We will inform participants of acceptance via e-mail by the end of November.

Further details about the conference, including accommodation information, will be available soon.


Panel Descriptions

Panel 1: Obscenity and Indecency

Obscenity and indecency policy have separate but overlapping histories. This panel will explore how these histories might be productively discussed in relation to one another. Topics may include:
  • Obscenity as the limit case of policy studies
  • The future of the FCC’s indecency policies
  • The stakeholders in obscenity and indecency policy in the digital era, from Morality in Media to Apple
  • Shadow policies, such as mandatory condom laws and 2257 age recordkeeping requirements, used to regulate the adult industry when obscenity prosecutions no longer work
  • Arbitrary and capricious applications of the law in obscenity and indecency

Panel 2: Infrastructure

Digital technologies have brought about new challenges and possibilities for infrastructure policy. This panel seeks to address the most critical of those issues, including:

  • The “public interest” in the current regulatory climate
  • The holes in regulatory policy brought about by new technologies
  • The current state of net neutrality in broadband regulation
  • The role of activism in shaping information policy
  • Regulatory capture: private companies as policymakers

Panel 3: Content / Conduit

This panel will integrate the content and conduit concerns of the previous panels and put indecency, obscenity, and infrastructure policies into dialogue. Questions include:

  • How have digital distribution technologies affected the regulation of the adult industry?
  • What is the role of internet service providers [ISPs] and technology companies in policing content?
  • How might we advocate for better media coverage related to critical policy matters about obscenity, indecency, and infrastructure?
  • What current initiatives are creating models for a more sustainable media policy?