Web is Double Edged Sword for Porn

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It’s a large entertainment entity suing a popular video-sharing site for what it claims is widespread copyright infringement, but it’s not Viacom suing YouTube — it’s a company called Vivid Entertainment Group, one of North America’s largest purveyors of “adult content,” and it has just filed a lawsuit against a site called PornoTube, whose primary offering should be fairly obvious.

According to several reports, Vivid’s claim — which asks for $150,000 (U.S.) in damages per video — states that PornoTube (or rather its parent entity, a company called Data Conversions Inc.) “copied, published, distributed and publicly displayed Vivid’s copyright works through the website PornoTube.com.” The suit adds that PornoTube “knowingly built a library of infringing works to draw Internet traffic” to its site.

This is virtually a carbon copy of the lawsuit launched against YouTube by Viacom, which argued that the video-sharing site — acquired by Google last year for $1.6-billion — built its business on the backs of their content, including clips of “The Office” and “The Daily Show.” In the case of Vivid and PornoTube, the complaint covers popular adult content such as “Night Nurses” and “Where The Boys Aren’t.”

The only major difference with the Vivid lawsuit is that the company is also complaining that PornoTube doesn’t abide by the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act, which requires producers of adult entertainment to conform to certain standards, and to verify (or attempt to verify) that anyone accessing their content is over the age of 18.

It’s more than a little ironic that pornography is widely seen as one of the building blocks of the Internet, in part because it solves the two major problems that have typically confronted the industry: namely, cheap distribution and privacy. Those same features, however, have made it easy for sites such as PornoTube to prosper, and made it harder for “legitimate” providers such as Vivid Entertainment to make a living. As the Los Angeles Times story notes, porn is also more vulnerable to piracy in part because viewers can “get what they are looking for” from a short clip rather than needing to see the full-length version.

Much like the regular entertainment business, the adult industry has been struggling with slumping DVD sales and the decline of traditional distribution methods in general. And just as “user-generated” Web content has provided an alternative outlet for bored TV viewers, the adult industry has also found its business deteriorating in part because of the rise in amateur content. On the Web, it seems, content is content — adult or otherwise — and traditional business models are being rewritten.

Compliments of: the Globe and Mail 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/mingram

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