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Porn Panic!

Porn Panic!

1026 PORN PANIC 04 X390 (JEREMY LUCIDO) | ADVOCATE.COM

Stealing It Away -- Illegal Tube SitesIt’s 1:30 p.m. at the State of the Industry Conference in Woodland Hills, and straight-porn producer Jay Quinlan has just been asked about illegal tube sites. He slams back what’s left of his third Miller Lite, leans into the microphone, and points to no one in particular. “I have one video that showed up on Pornhub, went to number 1 [on the site], got 250,000 views, and here’s the kicker -- the video hadn’t even appeared on my own site yet! That’s thievery! How do you sell something that’s been watched a quarter of a million times? The people who own [the illegal tube sites] are thieves, liars, and scumbags. They should be brought out to the backroom and shot!”

Some of the larger tube sites, like XTube, are vigilant in their prohibition of pirated material. But because these sites’ revenue comes from generating traffic, many tacitly permit users to upload copyrighted content. When contacted by angry porn producers, the response from illegal tube site owners is very similar to what I heard from LifeOut.com’s Jason Ward when I asked if he was responsible for the conduct of his site’s visitors: “We cannot stop members from uploading copyrighted content. What do you mean by ‘conduct’? Does that mean sites should approve every message that is sent through their mail? Does that mean every photo uploaded to a site should be reviewed? If that’s the case, then every site from MySpace to Facebook to Gay.com would be spending incredible resources to ensure everything is completely compliant.” Instead, it’s the larger porn studios that are spending those incredible resources -- to ensure pirate sites are sued. “We have a full in-house legal team, and basically all they do is piracy work,” Titan’s Keith Webb says. “We’ve won over 30 cases and settled over 100 more out of court in our favor.”

In November 2008, New York–based gay porn studio Pitbull Productions was awarded damages in excess of $2.85 million when it sued WhatsTea.com, a video-on-demand website, for copyright infringement. “At the end of the day, your library, your intellectual property, your copyrights and trademarks -- that’s your business asset,” says Pitbull’s CEO Jalin Fuentes.

For the most part, though, the mice are eluding the cat. Even if the majority of porn companies could afford drawn-out legal battles (they can’t), finding a person -- or an entity -- to sue is often impossible since most tube sites are based outside of the United States. Many producers are resigned to the reality that all porn will be stolen eventually and are making the best of a bad situation. “All of our content is watermarked with our name and website,” says Lea Busick, director of sales and marketing for TopBucks, which operates MaleSpectrum.com. “So when [a clip] does end up on a tube site we still get the exposure for the brand. You can bitch and moan about [piracy] or you can work within it and play the game.”

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