Aussie adult site slips under covers

An Australian adult Web site--pushed offshore by federal government legislation--is proving that sex still sells, announcing plans to expand the business by merging with a bricks and mortar company

An adult Web site--pushed offshore by federal government legislation-- is proving that sex still sells, announcing plans to expand the business by merging with a bricks and mortar company.

AUSTRALIA (ZDNet Australia)--SharonAusten.com has been unable to host a Web site in Australia under government regulations, but is supplying its content through an international server.

"It shows how behind the eight-ball the government is that they prohibit a public company from having a Web site in Australia," SharonAusten.com CEO Fiona Patten said.

Australian adult Web sites have had to move offshore due to government legislation - introduced in the amended Broadcasting Services Act 1 January 2000 - which says it is legal to sell and buy adult material offline, however, it is illegal to distribute it through a Web site.

Listing on the stock exchange as a public company in May 2000, SharonAusten.com - ASX code name "Sex" - is awaiting completion of its joint venture with adult bricks and mortar company Divolution Limited.

The Web site sells X-rated products and content through a subscription-based order service.

According to Patten, the public listing of an adult company reflects an acceptance of these types of businesses within Australia.

"It shows that we've come to that age of maturity. Ten years ago it would have been impossible for an adult Web site to go to an IPO," she said.

"We're not bound by Australian legislation, which is a double-edged sword for the government. As a result they have removed any restrictions by pushing us offshore," Patten said.

Patten says the X-rated video industry is a AU$44 million business in Australia.

"The government said we won't regulate you, we'll ban you," she said.

Patton argues that if customers are able to buy adult magazines in Australia, they should be able to buy them online.

"By sending our business offshore, we are choosing to use international servers and developers, taking the business away from Australia," Patten said.