A Content Producer's Side to Piracy
My name is Emerson and I own an adult company. Hi everybody!
Now that we're done with awkward introductions, let me tell you about my world, in a completely kid-safe manner. I co-own my company with my spouse. We've been together 5 years, we've owned our adult company for 3. We got into the industry because we thought adult websites were living in the 1990's, we were both tech/web people, and we thought we could do the website part better.
Cut to 1 year later. We're thoroughly in debt. We pay about $1,500 per scene. We release a new scene a week. Our little pet project has become a full-time job with $100,000+ per year in expenses. We're not making $100,000 per year yet. At this point, we're too small of a company to really be pirated much. We're living meager lives to try to make this 'pet project' work. We're working 12 hour days. No weekends.
Cut to 2 years later. We're slowly approaching solvency, but not quite there. Getting there is quite a feat, considering where we came from, with no investors and no knowledge about the adult industry. People love our content. People love our website. We're still working 12 hour days. No weekends. New development: We're getting torrented. You can frequently see our content on cyber-lockers (like Rapidshare, Megaupload, etc.). We painstakingly send out DMCAs, which take a long time to create to the cyberlockers, torrents, and tube sites where our stuff pops up. Torrent sites don't respond at all and we don't have any legal recourse. Cyberockers and tube sites respond 75% of the time, and the file is down, usually, within 2 weeks. We're seeing download and view counts in the thousands on all of these cyberlockers, tube sites, and torrent sites. Meanwhile, our site has less than a thousand people paying for it. We die a little bit in side.
Cut to 3 years later. We're now making a small profit. We can finally pay ourselves a pittance every couple months. We're finally paying off our debt. We're now only working standard, 8 hour days. Still no weekends in sight. Our content is now everywhere. New torrents every day. Hundreds of new cyberlocker files popping up every day. Tube sites galore. We're spending 25% of our working hours sending DMCA's, which work only half the time when you include torrents. When they do work, the hosting sites legally have to take down the files within a "reasonable amount of time", which seems to be forever in our eyes. It's usually our newest video, and the pirated versions usually have a couple thousand views/downloads. We think about how our lives would change if even 5% of the people pirating our files, bought them from our site. We would have weekends!
Cut to now. We're mad. We're busting our asses, putting all of our savings into the economy to create something new and interesting, and more people steal our content than pay for it. These people are putting no money into the economy - they are hurting small businesses, large businesses, and the world economy at large. These people are stealing and getting away with it. We talk to other companies in our industry and they all say the same thing - regardless of the size of their companies, regardless of the type of content, they have more people pirating their files than paying for them.
I'm going to let you guys in on a little-known piece of knowledge: Pirates make money when they release stolen content. Yeah. Person X joins my site, downloads the new release, uploads it to Mega Upload, and Mega Upload pays person X when people download that file. Mega Upload pays person X when someone upgrades to a premium account to get the faster download speed. Person X is stealing my content and then making money off it. What recourse do I have with Person X? None.
The DMCA process is BROKEN. Most of the time it doesn't work at all. You can't DMCA an off-shore torrent site (and they are ALL off-shore). You can't DMCA a cyberlocker who just doesn't care. When you DMCA a site that DOES care and that DOES take down files, it takes them weeks to do so, and the person who uploaded the material illegally suffers no penalty. Meanwhile, the file you DMCA'd, the moment it went up, was downloaded 5,000 times before it was taken down. Person X keeps their account and they do the same thing next week. It's an endless game of whack-a-mole that costs me money and time to play, and pirates make money for playing it, with no legal recourse.
People say "adapt!" People say "oh, porn companies make millions of dollars." People say "I'm not stealing... It's just porn..." Let me tell you something, ladies and gents: Most adult companies are much smaller than you think, and piracy has crippled their bottom lines in a major way. I really, really, really, really, really, REALLY would like to stop working every single weekend. I really, really, really, really, REALLY would like to know that I have some level of recourse when people blatantly steal and make money off of the content I struggled to create.
Was SOPA the bill that I was looking for? NO! SOPA was ineffective, and created by people who don't truly understand the technology behind the problem. Does there need to be a solution other than the current DMCA "solution"? YES! The current system offers next to no recourse for people like me, and ends up hurting the economy because it's putting companies like mine out of business left and right.
My plea to the lay-person who pirates is: please stop pirating content. Any content. If it's a song from a popular artist, from a billion dollar record label, don't pirate it. If it's a Disney movie: don't pirate it. I don't care if the companies behind the content are billion and million dollar companies. They are employing lots of normal people who are the first on the chopping block when profits go down. And these companies CREATED THE CONTENT. You don't have a right to it just because they are successful. Please don't pirate pornography. We're small businesses owned by normal, boring people. You've probably seen me buying paper towels at target. I'm not some kind of jet setting billionaire. Most of us aren't. And the people who are successful in the porn industry still have a right to their content. You do not unless you pay for it. My point is, there's never really a good justification for stealing. So don't.