Friday, March 06, 2015

The Perils Of Online Porn: Better Call Saul

Business models in love and lust are among the most interesting ones around, but when an adult producer breaks the law to cash in on illegal downloading, nobody cares.


Hook-up app Tinder recently made headlines when it announced a premium service charging users over 30 twice as much as those under it. Whether it is a smart business decision remains to be seen. Unlike Tinder most dating services have a strong incentive to not give the customer what they want. If you find a nice girl and marry her, you most likely cancel your subscription to the online dating service. Bad for business.

Some adult businesses have discovered that there is more money to be made from legal settlements than selling adult videos. Copyright trolling is a perfectly legal business model, just not a very pleasant one. It uses intimidation, trying to force defendants to settle, most of whom do not want their guilty pleasures known to the world.

It takes a thief to catch a thief

It often looks like there are two sets of rules, one for the adult industry and one for everything else. When Sony was hacked for over a year - something the company was to blame for as well - law enforcement officials and politicians worked themselves up into a frenzy but when a porn producer gains illegal entrance into an adult file sharing website to steal user information, it largely goes unnoticed.

That is what happened to Empornium, a large adult file sharing network. Piracy is always illegal, but so is illegally obtaining evidence by violating someone's privacy. What exactly happened is not clear but the most likely scenario goes something like this: somebody gained access to one of the website's moderator's accounts to gather information on people who illegally downloaded TaylorMadeClips clips.
Next the producers asked the store through which they sell their clips, probably C4S for "a few" e-mail addresses, which is kind of surprising because from what I understood C4S store owners have access to that information themselves, who bought what and when, including e-mail addresses. The clip store obliged, without warrant and the producers cross referenced e-mail addresses between paying customers and illegal downloaders. Those who were on both list received a settlement letter from the producer's lawyer. Only when it came to light how the e-mail addresses had been obtained, the producers more or less backed of.

What makes this surprising is not only the producers willingness to break the law, assisted by the clip store but also the producer's willingness to kill the goose with the golden eggs. People who previously bought clips and also illegally downloaded them stopped buying. Furthermore in order for copyright trolling to work you need people to upload the stuff, often those very people who buy the clips. The copyright trolls should pay more attention to the dating websites' business model.

Getting away with it

If some big pharmaceutical firm had broken into a database to look for people who illegally bought drugs in Canada there would be a congressional hearing. Meanwhile no adult customer will step forward and demand justice. It would mean they have to risk it all because they have some "weird" sexual preference. Politics does not care when it comes to the intellectual property rights of the adult industry, nor gives much thought to the rights of its customers.

Some have suggested that the producers are in desperate need of cash. If that is true one can only wonder what happens if they start selling their customer details.

Many customers will assume from this that buying clips online--and get your identity revealed--is a bigger privacy risk than illegal file sharing, hurting store owners sales numbers even more.

Serves them right?

If you run your own clip store and see your clips everywhere on the net you may think: serves them right but be careful, not only do cases like this lead to mission creep, if you by accident forgot to turn of the radio while shooting a clip, that is a copyright infringement as well. Some dommes conveniently "forget" to declare part of their income from sessions, the advantage of a cash only business. Most people at one point in their life have illegally downloaded music, movies or software. Perhaps you still have a few CD's back home that somebody copied for you or that you bought on holiday, knowing very well the artist would never see a penny.

Downloading illegal porn makes you more vulnerable than downloading the latest episode of your favourite TV show, getting caught downloading kinky stuff stigmatizes people in unfair way, something copyright trolls exploit. That's nasty, not the stuff you buy.

(and once again: no its no excuse to download illegally, people who work in the adult industry also have to pay their mortgage and send their kids to school!)

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