You may have heard that in June 2009 the police received a tip that G Media (parent company of abbywinters.com) were producing and selling DVD's in Victoria (Australia), that were not rated by the Classification Board. In late December 2009, I was charged by the Police for doing this. The charges against me were dropped, and two charges brought against the Company. On May 28th 2010, I went to court, where the magistrate dealt with our case.
We have always believed the law to be grey in this area, and that the law had not been properly tested in this regard. We could have spent many thousands of dollars in attempting to define the laws but this would have involved additional time and resources that the company could ill-afford, therefore, the Company chose to plead guilty to the two charges.
Our QC (Queens Counsel, equivent to a defense attorney in the US) 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 in 2010. 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 really had no option but to proceed the way it did.
So, abbywinters.com cannot continue operating in Victoria (or Australia) 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 2010. 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.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff and models we have worked with over the last 10 years. You have made the site fantastic. Please stay in touch.
Below, a FAQ for some of the questions our members may have.
Q: Why are you moving? I'm leaving.
A: You might have heard about our recent legal troubles. Restrictive Australian legislators seem like they are becoming more restrictive (for example, it's likely the proposed country-wide internet filter will be passed into law in early 2011), and there are more opportunities in EU.
Also, we like a challenge!
Q: The site will go to shit. I'm leaving.
A: In fact, the site will be just as shit as it is now (which is to say, not at all, of course), or less.
Q: The new shooters won't get it. I'm leaving
A: We're taking our two longest serving and most awesome shooters Jacki and Patience (excited much?), and two of our video editors, who will work with us on training some new Dutch shooters and editors, with the Creative Director (me). We're also bringing over our management team, and some back-office staff.
The style will stay the same. Quality will continue to increase.
Q: What about the Australian-ness? I'm leaving.
A: We have a variety of nationalities on the site currently, and while we're Australian people, Australia is not the only place in the world with unique, sexy, attractive, passionate, amateur models!
Chloe B, who has worked with us for several years as a model and staffer will come with us and continue working on model recruitment and booking. We'll be using similar techniques to get a similar type of models applying, and will use the same criteria for selecting models. There will be a gradual change in the nationalities of models appearing on the site however. The accents will change.
But also, like Australia, Europe is a melting pot of nationalities and travellers, and we exepect to significantly increase the variety from shoot to shoot, while holding true to our values.
Q: You're selling out. I'm leaving.
A: The site will have the same owners, intently focussed on the same goals, vision and mission.
Q: You will shoot porn stars. I'm leaving.
A: Like we do now, we shoot occasional "porn stars" (or rather, models who have appeared on several other sites), when we feel they express an interest in working with us, and meet the "abbywinters paradigm". While there are more professional models in the EU than in Oz, shooting porn stars is simply not what we're about, and we will resist the temptation.
Q: You guys are changing too much lately. I'm leaving.
A: We have changed a bit lately - new site design and AfterDark are the big ones - but also many small things are changing behind the scenes. What started as a hobby and a bit of fun has matured into a serious business and aims to be a responsible corporate citizen. That inevitably means more infrastructure and planning, which can lead to a loss of the agility we started with, and becoming set in our ways. We're sensitive to this, and embrace it as challenge. Changing countries will also give us a shakeup, and we plan to embrace that, as well.
The core of what we do - finding and shooting intriguing, passionate, delicate, sexy, gorgeous models, and do it ethically, honestly and creatively has not, and will never change. We'll riff on a variety of interpretations (like After Dark), but our core values remain the same.
Q: You're abandoning the models you said you "cared for" in AU. I'm leaving.
A: We have always, and will continue to, care for all our models, despite the media beat-ups (members interact with real models every day on the boards, and can see how happy they are with the work they have done with us). Models will remain strident voices in all decisions we make in the company (both models-as-staff and models-only), and continue to be involved in decisions we make that affect how we work with models.
When our AU models visit Europe, we have an open invitation for them to come visit us, and where possible we'll offer shoots, or just a friendly face in another country.
Q: What about site updates?
A: We have planned so the site will continue to be updated regularly as normal at all times. There may be some minor hiccups, and we ask for your patience in this. As many members know, we always work to be ahead of schedule, and this buffer will allow us time to relocate, and have the site updates be unaffected.
Q: How can I help?
Thanks for your offer, we'd love you to help other members on the boards with their concerns, and to tell your friends how awesome AW is!
Thanks for being a member, and I hope you choose to stick with us through these changing times.
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