New on ZDNet: Porn’s Bittorrent Lawsuits Reach Freakish Proportions – Over 30,000 Defendants

by Violet Blue on November 8, 2010

Porn companies are making history right now, but not the kind of history we would joke about — or necessarily be proud of. The total of individuals being sued by multiple porn companies has reached a record-breaking 30,000 “John Doe” defendants in the past six weeks. For what might be my top article this year, I tracked down and interviewed a lot of people; notably, famously, the EFF’s Cindy Cohn and porn director Axel Braun. I was surprised to see Braun openly challenge the Anonymous hackers Operation Payback in his email replies to me (it’s in the article!)

At ZDNet (CBSi) – Every Inch Counts: Porn Filesharing Lawsuits Crest 30K Defendants (zdnet.com).

You must read the article to get the chilling details. What I find most upsetting personally is the determination for porn studios to out, identify, name and make public the identities of alleged porn downloaders — so that porn may shame them into paying up, and fortify porn’s new monetization strategy. Yup: using the shame over their own product to get people to give them money. Dear porn: Batman XXX is rad, but find a better way to survive. Please.

America’s pornography business has been cast as an industry quick to co-opt new technologies to keep its profit margins larger than the average guy’s. However, when DVD sales plummeted by 50% in 2009 and torrent sites emerged as a factor in limp revenues, mainstream porn faced a new kind of shrinkage: porn needed a little blue pill, or a bailout. So, what new hot tech innovation is set to get porn back in the black?

(…) For instance, someone in the military who is accused of downloading gay porn, or those who could lose their jobs — such as police or schoolteachers — could be frightened into paying off porn studios simply because the mere accusation could cause so much trouble in their lives. Cohn explains, “The process of identifying Does in this instance increases pressure to settle against legitimate defenses and makes it more of a shakedown.”

When I mention that some of the copyright websites conveniently have “pay now” options encouraging alleged – or simply potential – downloaders to give money immediately and avoid all that nasty, time-consuming “due process” Cohn expresses another concern. “My worry is that over time we’ll see more of these scams, where copycats don’t do legal legwork and scam people into paying who just don’t know better.” (…read more, zdnet.com)

Image via Vivid Video’s Batman XXX page.

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

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{ 3 comments }

1 Mitch November 10, 2010 at 11:02 am

I don’t download mainstream movies because with my subscription to the Netflix streaming service there’s little incentive to wait for downloads or fill up my drive with movies. If that kind of distribution system works for non-porn movies which are more expensive to produce it could work for porn . The streaming player just needs to work for the way people want to view porn. It needs to be quick easy to move forward and backward through a movie to skip boring scenes and repeat favorite scenes using only one hand. There also needs to be a good selection of films from various companies.

People who want to download pirated porn will find a way to do it. If using bittorrent exposes them to the risk of having their IP address traced they will switch to services like Rapidshare.

Porn companies need to find a way to get people to want to buy dvds or get people to not want to download pirated copies. Give the customer some incentive to buy a dvd like an autographed box cover or a mini magazine of Andy San Dimas or Alexis Texas with the dvd. Offer freely downloadable trailers with a sexy personal appeal by a porn actress to support her livelihood by buying legal copies of her movies.

If porn companies want to use aggressive tactics to attack potential customers they are not going to be liked and that will make it easier to rationalize ripping them off.

2 David November 10, 2010 at 12:27 am

Oh hell… i’m going to learn to preview these comments before posting them one of these days. (What was that you were saying about brilliant readers?) Ignore the previous one, this is what I meant to say…

I hope their new business model makes them a helluva lot of money right away, because otherwise I think they’ve doomed big-name studio porn for the foreseeable future.

Here’s my take on it: I don’t buy a lot of porn on DVD’s. I can usually find something more to my tastes online easier, and cheaper (if not outright free). However, from time to time, I would still buy a DVD, if I was in an adult shop for toys or lube and saw something that piqued my interest. However, in light of their recent actions, I can promise you that I will no longer be guilty of purchasing ANYTHING from these studios ever again.

And just to be clear, I have no problem with them going after people who’re illegally downloading their movies. That’s theft as far as I’m concerned, and that’s justifiable. But using public exposure as a means of shaming people into settling the cases out of court, after hiring questionable IP detectives to start with? Completely, 100%, totally unacceptable. If they feel that I should be ashamed to be seen with their products, well… I’ll happily keep myself and my money as far away from them as I can, and just go watch my smut somewhere else.

3 David November 10, 2010 at 12:23 am

I hope their new business model makes them a helluva lot of money right away, because otherwise I think they’ve doomed big-name studio porn for the foreseeable future.

Here’s my take on it: I don’t buy a lot of porn on DVD’s. I can usually find something more to my tastes online easier, and cheaper (if not outright free). However, from time to time, I would still buy a DVD, if I was in an adult shop for toys or lube and saw something that piqued my interest. However, in light of their recent actions, I can promise you that I will no longer be guilty of purchasing ANYTHING from these studios ever again. If they feel that I should be ashamed to be seen with their products, well… I’ll happily keep myself and my money as far away from them as I can, and just go watch my smut somewhere else.

And just to be clear, I have no problem with them going after people who’re illegally downloading their movies. That’s theft as far as I’m concerned, and that’s justifiable. But using public exposure as a means of shaming people into settling the cases out of court, after hiring questionable IP detectives to start with? Completely, 100%, totally unacceptable. If

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