Online piracy is in no danger of going out of fashion any time soon, with everyone from the US Government to the Vatican getting in on the action. But downloading stuff that you haven't paid for tends to make the rights holders rather cross, and when they get cross, they frequently get litigious.
All too often, we hear reports of users being sued for allegedly downloading content illegally, and even the porn industry has seen its share of legal action against individuals. But some in the adult content industry are now taking a less confrontational approach, with the launch of an industry-wide effort encouraging users to stop downloading free porn.
The new #PayForYourPorn campaign has the support of many adult movie stars, including performer and 'sex educator' Jessica Drake, as The Guardian reports. "I can speak first hand about the very real effects of piracy on the entertainment industry and the economy," said Drake. "Piracy is a very serious criminal activity. Theft is also a violation of personal consent and ethics."
Porn publisher Adult Empire is a major backer of what the company's Megan Wozniak calls a "grassroots campaign" to convince users that free porn is harming the industry. The campaign is necessary, she says, because "unfortunately, porn still has a stigma attached to it, so we know that we won't ever receive help or support from legislatures."
The campaign says that paying for porn "ensures it's better produced, delivered in higher quality formats, more secure, and fosters the creation of new content. Porn piracy hurts everyone, from the creators behind the scenes to the porn stars fans love to watch."
But some believe that the best solution is more practical than simply telling users that they shouldn't download or stream free adult material. While making it clear that he is "100% behind the campaign", David Kay says that his site, Porn.com, is still able to support the industry with free ad-supported streaming along with premium memberships, while still giving a cut of revenues to the studios that produce content.
Kay believes that the porn industry needs to learn the lessons of the music and mainstream movie industries, by providing more appealing packages (erm... so to speak) that will encourage users to choose to pay for what they watch. "The industry needs to adopt 'Netflix' pricing of $7 to $10 per month, as opposed to the standard $39.95 monthly that you commonly see," he suggests. "We switched to this pricing years ago and are one of the few companies still flourishing."
Indeed, Netflix, along with music streaming services such as Spotify, have shown that the carrot can be more effective than the stick in encouraging users to part with their cash for content that they may well have become accustomed to getting free, albeit via slightly shady means.