PVV – adult performers and piracy

So recently, I was talking (yet again) about resisting the fear-mongering specter that is .xxx – the University of Hawaii is doing it, why can’t you?!!

This reminded me (yet again) of another fight that I feel all members of the adult community and all fans and consumers of adult content and related industry products must engage – the fight against pillaging pirates of online content.

Takedown Piracy‘s Nate Glass is one of the most badass and fantastically outspoken anti-piracy crusaders. He writes a monthly column on piracy-related issues for the print version of AVN; and his January, 2012 installment, entitled “Performers and Piracy,” really got me thinking…

First, let’s consider the insights Nate offers in this article (big long quote follows):

“I remember the moment like it was yesterday. The moment I realized when it comes to piracy, I could not rely on the performers to help fight the good fight with me. It was the day I saw a brazen porn pirate post a picture online of Tanner Mayes holding up a sign reading ‘I Love PornBB.’ There it was, a popular porn actress professing her love, albeit most likely unknowingly, of the biggest porn piracy forum on the planet. A site full of fans who love Tanner Mayes so much they can’t wait to show their love by pirating her scenes in order to make a little coin for themselves. And if they are conflicted with any sort of guilt about doing so, there was Tanner, telling them it is okay, because she loves them.

Now I know Tanner probably doesn’t have any idea what PornBB is, so I can’t be too hard on her, but this picture was more symbolic to me than it was literal. It represented how little performers know, or even seem to care, about piracy. In reality, the people we put in front of the camera aren’t all that concerned with what goes on behind it. And really, why should they be? If a performer is hired to do a scene for a set amount of dollars, why would they care if that scene is then either paid for or pirated? It doesn’t affect their check one way or the other. In porn there are no residuals. There’s no such thing as revenue sharing. The only thing mattering to the performer is the check clearing.

Should there be some sort of revenue sharing system in place? Maybe, but will we ever see it is the real question. My gut tells me no—the churn amongst performers is simply too great to ever make a residual or revshare program work. Combined with the fact so many performers are barely over 18 and simply disappear after a year never to be heard from again, and I think you can see why it could make for a logistical nightmare. Plus, there’s really no incentive to do this from the production side, since it would only slice into already thin profits. As evidenced by the recent NBA lockout, if you want a fair revenue sharing system, you’re going to need to make some sacrifices, and it wouldn’t hurt to be a part of a union. Think we’ll ever see porn performers unionize? The phrase ‘herding cats’ comes to mind.

So what would it take to make performers actually care about piracy? Well, it should warm your heart a little to know some performers already do. They are the ones who took control of their career. The business-minded ones; the ones who either figured out how to run their own studios or their own websites, or at the very least have figured out that managing your career entails more than tweeting pictures of yourself and creating an Amazon wishlist.

A good example is MILF star Tanya Tate. While still keeping herself open to shooting for other studios, Tanya now owns her own exclusive content, which she distributes via a members-only website, TanyaTate.com. What’s more, Tanya educated herself when it comes to piracy to the point where she knows which studios actively protect their content and which don’t. This puts her in the enviable position of only performing for studios where her scenes will be harder for freeloaders to find, thus increasing their incentive to either pay for the content, or to join her official website.

(pictured: Tanya Tate in the center, speaking on a panel at the 2011 Exxxotica LA show)

And if you need another example, then look no further than arguably our generation’s most popular performer— [the very recently retired] Jenna Haze. In a career spanning over a decade, Jenna remains on top of an industry notorious for short-lived stays. With the creation of her own studio, Jennaration X Studios, Jenna now controls her career and her content. This gives her a vested interest in making it as difficult as possible to steal her hard work and intellectual property, all while becoming an outspoken critic of piracy far beyond the usual PR quote.

Now while our industry still needs to figure out a distribution model on par with iTunes, clearly the trend is moving more toward owning your content and controlling who gets access to it and how. This doesn’t mean an end to the studio model. In fact, it would further benefit the studios if more performers took an increased entrepreneurial role and treated the business more like a business and less like a hobby. We would have added distribution deals similar to the way Evil Angel and Jules Jordan Video directors own their content, thus having more incentive to make better quality productions. Coupled with an efficient, and affordable, iTunes-esque delivery, we would likely see more money injected into the system as a whole.

So to the performers reading this, I know most of you have aspirations of being the next Jenna Jameson and that’s great. But the industry that allowed Jenna Jameson to flourish is a far cry from what we have today. You would be better served trying to follow in the footsteps of Jenna Haze than Jenna Jameson. In the industry we have today, you have a choice: You either flip the burgers or you own the McDonalds. Which do you think will pay off better?”

Dang, so much good stuff!! Point by point:

1. Many performers are not sufficiently aware of online piracy and piracy-related issues. This is to their detriment.

2a. This insufficient awareness is due, in part, to industry structural issues associated with a) the longevity of most performers’ careers and b) the job-by-job/booking-by-booking way in which most performers are compensated.

2b. Although such issues (career longevity) and comparable employment and compensation models are moot points and/or work fine in other industries, they have become a breeding ground for piracy-related problems in adult.

3. Retaining control over one’s own content, approaching one’s work as a performer as a professional occupation, being up-to-speed with piracy-related issues, and being selective about the companies one works with/permits to own content they are featured in are all tactics performers can employ to both fight piracy and further their careers.

I gotta say – Nate makes a lot of sense, and he offers some great insights, useful suggestions, and inspiring examples (go Tanya!! go Jenna!!). Awareness on the behalf of performers at the level he is describing would not only help the individual, it would help the industry collective – performers, producers, and everyone else.

And Nate, to his credit, has taken his own steps to connect figting piracy to performers. He has implemented a “XXX of the Month” program to help combat piracy – getting fans and consumers to help report copyright infringements. This directly helps the month’s named beneficiary… and enters tipsters in contest to win the gift of sanctioned adult content. It’s a win-win!!

(incidentally – February’s Star of the Month is Chanel Preston. Previous beneficiaries have included Nyomi Banxxx, Wicked Pictures’ contract performer jessica drake, Adam & Eve contract performer Alexis Ford, and Evil Angel director Jonni Darkko. To report any copyright infringements, include those violating Chanel Preston’s rights as a content owner, performer, and human, go to http://takedownpiracy.com/tips/)

There are many wonderful folks out there fighting piracy in their own way and many resources are available to learn about the issues (lord knows I talk about it enough), but it’s not enough…

Performers, the ball is in your court!! The adult industry has changed dramatically in the past 10 years, and the old model no longer works in the same way. It’s up to you to keep control of your content and fight to protect what’s yours – it’s no one else’s responsibility, and no one is going to do it for you.

Fans and consumers, do your part too – stop stealing porn!! Stop watching free pirated content on the internet. It’s not there as a gift for you from the Porn Gods. You pay for every other good you choose to participate in… why is this any different? Think about women like Tanya and Jenna and even Tanner and the wider impactions of your actions…

Think about it.

Read “Performers and Piracy ” in all its original form glory here. Contact Nate Glass via Takedown Piracy here.

And help support your favorite porn performer and/or the entire  adult community – report pirated content to Takedown Piracy here.

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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from PVVOnline/Porn Valley Vantage, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

PVVOnline – Critical Commentary on Adult Production