The Free Speech Coalition was founded in 1991 as a result of numerous government attacks against producers and retailers of adult products. But its roots are embedded deep within the birth and development of adult entertainment in the United States.
The concept of an organization as a rallying point for those who believe in the free expression of adult-themed works began as early as 1970. The first truly national group to emerge was the Adult Film Association of America (AFAA). At that time, adult entertainment was only available in adult theaters and bookstores so early members were largely theatrical exhibitors. With the advent of inexpensive home videos, the AFAA morphed into the Adult Film and Video Association of America (AFVAA).
The next significant event that galvanized the AFVAA was the arrest of Hal Freeman for pandering. Prosecutors wanted to establish once and for all that paying performers to have sex in a film was an act of prostitution. Freeman won that legal battle, which redefined the use of the pandering laws relative to providers of adult product. As video productions became the dominant factor in the marketplace, theatrical exhibition diminished. Video chains and many independent stores in suburbs and smaller cities started carrying adult fare. Overzealous law enforcement officials subjected more and more retailers to "obscenity" charges. Then in 1990, under the first Bush administration, the Federal government attacked most of the major manufacturers of adult video with a sting operation designed to destroy the industry. In response, the Free Speech Legal Defense Fund (FSLDF) was formed by industry leaders to protect the rights of members in all areas of adult entertainment.