Here’s how Samuel L. Jackson started a porn piracy backlash

Samuel L. Jackson thinks free porn is awesome. Actually, he thinks free porn Web sites are among the greatest cultural contributions of the past 50 years.

U.S. actor Samuel L. Jackson arrives at the UK premiere of the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the Vue Westfield on Thursday, March 20, 2014 in London. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP Images)
U.S. actor Samuel L. Jackson arrives at the UK premiere of the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the Vue Westfield on Thursday, March 20, 2014 in London. (Joel Ryan/Invision/AP Images)

At a March media event promoting the new superhero flick, “Captain America: The Winter Solider,” Jackson and other cast members were asked what they would add to a list of great pop culture stuff from the past 50 years.

The actors’ answers came from across the cultural spectrum: the Beatles, cake pops, “The Godfather,” “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

Jackson’s answer stood out. RedTube, he said. As in the free porn streaming Web site.

RedTube is like YouTube for porn. Viewers can see clips of porn videos for free. The site makes money on advertising. Another ad-supported Web site, YouPorn, allows users to upload their own porn videos. Web sites that offer porn on a pay-per-view or subscription basis do not like “tube” sites which undercut their business model, an argument to which courts have been unsympathetic. 

Another issue is that it’s difficult for content owners to police tube sites for unauthorized distribution of their work, which raises piracy concerns.

Jackson’s endorsement of RedTube drew the ire of the porn industry and anti-piracy advocates, who’ve since launched a social media campaign, #PayForYourPorn, backed by porn publishing house Adult Empire.

 

 

“There’s a whole stigma involved that, you know, there’s nothing wrong with [pirating] ’cause it’s porn,” piracy expert Nate Glass told Russia Today in April. “I think that’s because people don’t really understand how the adult industry works and … there’s a whole group of people that work behind the scenes who are mostly middle income people, they’re people just like you and me.”

In a missive to Jackson titled “The Porn Education Of Captain America — Samuel L. Jackson Endorses Movie Piracy?,” Coleen Singer of the erotic Web site sssh.com, writes:

Now, I realize you are probably as pissed off about movie piracy on the interwebs as I am, but in your case, your mainstream features are nicely protected by office buildings filled with studio lawyers that get any movie you are in deleted from the tubes, torrents and fileshare … But here in Pornland, it’s a little more difficult to deal with piracy.  There are literally thousands of “free porn movie sites” out there that rely on this mysterious thing called “user generated content” to maintain their loophole protection in the Digital Millennia Copyright Act (DMCA) and we overworked, underfunded and abused porn producers spend a whole lot of time and money we don’t have issuing takedown orders for our oh-so-sexy adult movies that get onto the tubes and torrents within minutes of legitimate release on our sites.

Jessica Drake, an adult performer and sex educator, helped launch the #PayForYourPorn campaign. “I can speak first hand about the very real effects of piracy on the entertainment industry and the economy. Piracy is a very serious criminal activity,” Drake told the Guardian. “Theft is also a violation of personal consent and ethics.”

David Kay of Porn.com, a site that offers free ad-supported porn, defended his business model to the Guardian:

Kay, who says he is “100% behind the campaign,” argues that his site’s pay-per-view scheme “keeps a lot of content owners in business,” by offering a cut of the ad revenue to studios which upload their own videos and clips to the site’s system.

Just as the movie and music industries were forced to adapt in the face of piracy, becoming more user-friendly to win back customers who were used to getting what they wanted for free, Kay says the porn industry needs to change as well. “The industry needs to adopt ‘Netflix’ pricing,” he says, “of $7-$10 per month as opposed to the standard $39.95 monthly that you commonly see. We switched to this pricing years ago and are one of the few companies still flourishing.”

 

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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