Porn pros hope to squelch online piracy by 2012

Porn pros hope to squelch online piracy by 2012The film and music businesses couldn't stop file-sharing, but the porn industry has a plan to drive piracy into the shadows in 15 months or less. Can DogFart, Lords of Porn, and Naughty Bank succeed where others have failed?

They certainly hope so. To that end, a company called Pink Visual rounded up a huge collection of porn studios and lawyers for a "content protection retreat" (CPR) in Tucson last week, one designed to get the industry working together on an anti-P2P strategy. CPR was designed to "revive" the business, and backers hope hope they can "significantly reduce digital piracy of adult content and to effectively drive those who engage in adult content piracy completely underground by January 2012."

The event was secretive enough that the location and agenda weren't revealed publicly, but we do know that lawyers engaged in widespread "Doe" litigation against anonymous file-swappers were present to make their case. These firms included Media Copyright Group, the Minneapolis/Chicago company that recently brought large-scale porn litigation to the heartland (and which is represented in federal court by a family law attorney with little discernible practice in intellectual property cases).

The industry routinely claims that it is being decimated by piracy—it's even worse off than the mainstream film business. (In 2007, the now-defunct Portfolio did a terrific piece on this, called "Obscene Losses.") In part, that's due to the huge (indeed, record-setting) box office numbers put up by theaters in the last few years. Porn, which is highly dependent on individual sales to home users, doesn't have the theatrical revenue stream and is therefore more at risk from the free Flash-based "tube" sites that now cater to every kind of fetish. These sites, modeled after YouTube, are awash in copyrighted content.

At the CPR event in the Arizona desert, Pink Visual did reveal that several studios have agreed go after both the tube sites and large torrent trackers. (The porn industry's Free Speech Coalition has for some time pressured tube sites to adopt content-screening technology.)

But when it comes to suing end users, porn studios are as divided as every other content industry. We've seen numerous studios sue thousands of anonymous Does over the last few months, apparently taking a cue from the US Copyright Group's 14,000+ lawsuits against indie film pirates. Several of the companies involved in this new wave of litigation were at the CPR event, but others believe it's simply counterproductive to sue fans and have refused to do so.

Such lawsuits have had limited success when it comes to music and movies, but pornographers might be in a better position to coax people into settling quickly for a few thousand dollars. As Pink Visual president Allison Vivas told the Agence France Presse in September, "It seems like it will be quite embarrassing for whichever user ends up in a lawsuit about using a popular shemale title. When it comes to private sexual fantasies and fetishes, going public is probably not worth the risk that these torrent and peer-to-peer users are taking."

While the short-term goal of such suits may be to tap a new revenue source, the long-term challenge is retraining people who now believe that porn should be free. The music industry has had some success with this thanks to lower prices (especially 99 cent iTunes downloads, which redefined digital music pricing); the movie and TV businesses are seeing at least some success with cheap subscriptions (Netflix) or free, ad-supported streaming (Hulu). But in an Internet that's awash in porn and a limited pool of shemale-porn-friendly advertisers, the pornographers may have a hard time pulling in the profits.

Source: ars technica

Tags: pornography

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