Agents from the F.B.I. (Federal Bureau of Investigation) shut down over 2600 Blockbuster Video stores and arrested almost 3000 store managers, employees, and company executives on charges of distributing child pornography (both at the stores and through their mail program). The same thing happened with Hollywood video and all other chain video rental locations. Officials of the Blockbuster company could not be reached for comment as all were in prisons across the United States.
Charges stem from the video stores selling and renting movies containing nude and sex scenes with underage actresses, which is banned under federal law. Special Agent Kent Folger issued a statement after the arrests explaining the reasoning for the actions:
"We discovered that Keira Knightley made a movie called The Hole when she was fifteen years old. In the film, she does nude scenes and her breasts are exposed for several seconds. Actress Nastassja Kinski made a film when she was fourteen years old called To the Devil a Daughter, where she does full frontal nudity for an extended period. Brooke Shields at the age of either eleven or twelve years of age did full frontal nudity and sexual scenes in Pretty Baby. She did the same in Blue Lagoon when she was fourteen."
"All of these movies can be found at your local video rental store."
"While it is not illegal for a minor to be filmed naked with parental permission for a movie in some countries, it is illegal for pictures of naked minors to be sold, possessed, or rented in this country. This violates child pornography laws and the perpetrators must be stopped."
"If one goes so far as to search for pictures from these films on the internet, they may also be in violation of breaking these laws. Computers may be siezed and arrests can and will be made."
In anticipation of possible reprisals against them, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, and all other major chains that sell videos have pulled all R-rated films from their shelves. These will be re-stocked when company officials can verify that no underage nudity occurs in any of the films.
The F.B.I. suggests that before anyone rent an R-rated movie, they verify with the Internet Movie Data Base that all actresses who do nude scenes were at least eighteen years old at the time.