Classic Post: What Porn Can Teach Us About “Piracy”

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Note: Due to a limited posting schedule during the month of October on days where I can not write regular post, I am taking time out to highlight some of the older posts that have become pillars of the site.

In 2006 I posted an article contrasting the tactics of the porn industry with that of the RIAA, which at the time was in the thick of its lawsuit campaign against individual file sharers. I highlighted the tactics that the industry used to stay competitive in the age of file sharing, including watermarking content, constantly putting out new works and operating within well-definied niches and proposed some of their techniques as methods for non-adult content creators to mitigate the damages of illegal file sharing.

The article was an instant hit and reached the front page of several social news sites, including Digg. It became and still remains one of the most popular articles on the site, likely due in large part to it having keywords which are fairly frequently searched.

However, I wish the article were still true. The porn industry is in a funk and it has responded by using RIAA tactics, especially in asia.

That being said, much of the article still holds true and the basic tactics to mitigate against file sharing are still valid, they just weren’t enough to prevent the rush of free competition, both legitimate and illegal, from eating away at their bottom line.

In the end, there is a lot of debate about how much of the porn industry’s problems are owed to piracy versus the democratization of the media and increased competition. In that regard, the porn industry has a lot in common with mainstream journalism.

The sad part though is that, in the past, the porn industry has led Hollywood through technological shifts and even copyright disputes. However, this time it doesn’t seem to be able to do that, at least not without the same heartburn that the movie and music studios are enduring.

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