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Porn and Copyright

An interesting but long and meandering story in the NY Times looking at how the online porno industry is dealing with copyright infringement, in pointed contrast to the actions of the msuic and film industries:

    HOUSANDS of Web sites are putting Playboy magazine’s pictures on the Internet – free. And Randy Nicolau, the president of Playboy.com, is loving it. “It’s direct marketing at its finest,” he said.

    Let the music industry sue those who share files, and let Hollywood push for tough laws and regulations to curb movie copying. Playboy, like many companies that provide access to virtual flesh and naughtiness, is turning online freeloaders into subscribers by giving away pictures to other sites that, in turn, drive visitors right back to Playboy.com.

    When Mr. Nicolau is asked whether he thinks that the entertainment industry is making a mistake by taking a different approach, he replies: “I haven’t spent much time thinking about it. It’s like asking Henry Ford, ‘What were the buggy-whip guys doing wrong?’ ”

    ….And the pornography industry, which has always been among the first to exploit new technologies, including the VCR, the World Wide Web and online payment systems, is finding novel ways to deal with the threat of online piracy as well. The mainstream entertainment industry, some experts say, would do well to pay attention.

    Music executives say their campaign of lawsuits has been successful. They say they have spread the word that downloading free music infringes on copyrights and that there could be consequences for large-scale file sharers.

    But the pornography industry has been dealing with Internet copyright issues since the 1980′s. By comparison, the movie and music businesses are relative newcomers. Mr. Hymes said companies in his industry had come to realize that suing consumers and promoting “draconian laws” were not the answer. “No law written can stem the tide,” he said. And so, he said, companies are seeking ways to live with the technologies that threaten them and are trying to turn them to their advantage.

    ….Companies are finding that free images can be a selling point, and not just a problem. Playboy pays Webmasters $25 or more for every subscription they funnel to Playboy.com and provides sales and marketing tools to help make the free Web sites more effective. Mr. Nicolau of Playboy.com said that the subscription business grew 74 percent in 2002 and that the company’s revenue growth in 2003 was expected to be as much as 60 percent.

    ….Pornography merchants say that they have the advantage over free file-sharing networks, at least for now. They say the networks are not well suited to the needs of their consumers, who like images and movies that push their very specific buttons for, say, blondes or cheerleaders.

    “Free is very anarchistic and hard to deal with, and you don’t know what you’re getting,” said a pornography entrepreneur who goes by the online pseudonym T. Lassiter Jones. “Cheap is more convenient.”

    That notion could be the great hope of the mainstream entertainment industry, where fledgling services like the iTunes store and Rhapsody that offer inexpensive, easy access to legal music are beginning to catch on.

    So, yes, sex sells, but so can music.

These services are neither cheap nor convenient enough yet, however.

About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    The article touches on a few business practises of the music biz, it doesn’t make money by selling product, it largely makes money through accounting fraud. The porn biz on the other hand makes most it’s profit on the backend.

    What the article does highlight is that if the majors want to survive, they need to cut production costs, they need to provide their end customers what they want, and they need to learn how to market to niche markets.

    But I think the few people entrenched in the ever tinier corporate merry-go-round in charge of the majors are too stupid and greedy.

  • Shark

    Fascinating stuff.

    Doesn’t surprise me, though; this is a continuation of a historic trend. Over the last few hundred years, pornographers have always been the first innovators/experimenters with each successive new media technology.

    You want to develop a new media technology?

    Give it to a pornographer, step back and watch. [sic]

    God bless ‘em: we owe those artistic perverts a lot.

  • http://www.tegmen.com Thomas Rubinstein

    Hello i would like to know if it is safe to buy on your web site ?