Open letter to Mr. Bardamu: Why won’t you pay for porn?

By J. DeVoy

On Ephemeral Notebook, Ferdinand Bardamu – skilled writer and friend of the blog – writes that Kayden Kross’ takedown of pirates won’t make him stop stealing porn.  While “stealing” is an emotionally charged word, and copyright infringement laws only affect uploaders on bittorrent, tubes and file locker sites (assuming, very generously, the latter two are DMCA compliant), that is ultimately what piracy of porn and anything else is about: Getting something for nothing.

I’m fond of Ferdinand, and his primary blog, In Mala Fide, is on our blogroll.  He links to my posts when they’re interesting and not too legal, and I link to his if I think readers here might appreciate them.  I’ve both written for his blog and written him in for the U.S. Senate.  To the extent I call him on the carpet like this, as if our blogs were some rap battle mixtapes, it’s nothing personal – I end up having this discussion with everyone I consider a friend.

So, Ferd:

Why won’t you pay for porn?  Or will you pay, but just for certain subsets of it?

I find that this attitude is common in men of our age.  It is hard to justify paying for something when so much is available for free.  But the shortcomings of these methods are readily apparent as people rave about discovering long-retired actresses whose content has just finally trickled onto some seedy overseas-based site.

What would it take to make you pay?  Is there a technological breakthrough you can think of that would make porn a worthwhile investment?  Or, if you were sued for copyright infringement, how much money would you have to pay before you’d never pirate again – $5,000? $15,000?  Or would it be some other amount on the continuum between a harsh lesson and complete and utter financial ruin?

As a nihilist, it is not your duty to care about whether other people earn a living.  You recognize the broad costs imposed by a coarsening of society.  But, from a self-interested perspective, you can appreciate what the deluge of sex and pornography means for your personal life.  By buying porn, you’re supporting the arts; under an extreme view, it could be like patronage for creators you particularly support, like the Medicis of Renaissance Italy.  Just as Renaissance art was inextricably linked with culture, so too is pornography wrapped into the modern zeitgeist.  Thanks to the lifetime oeuvre of, for example, John “Buttman” Stagliano – someone who risked a lengthy prison term to follow his principles – anal sex is not merely a reality for many men, but expected.  Sure, Stagliano got wealthy in the process, but his work and that of those he influenced have ensured that north of 80% of girls in our age range are up for some greek – and I’m not talking about gyros.  This is just one example of how what happens in porn affects real life, and, from my perspective, is worth preserving.

Again, FB, this isn’t an ax I have to grind with you; I’m not going to stop reading IMF or pull my links because we disagree.  To the extent you deign to acknowledge this letter, I trust you’ll articulate a thoughtful explanation for your positions on the issue.  As someone in the once-target demographic for porn, though, your thought process on this issue is important to understand – mostly because you’ll be able to state it so damn well.

9 Responses to Open letter to Mr. Bardamu: Why won’t you pay for porn?

  1. Charles Platt says:

    I think the problem is partly that porn has locked itself into a bad subscription model. The typical production company sets up a site with a very narrow speciality (older women who give oral sex to younger black males, for instance) and then expects you to pay $30 a month for all the downloads you can stand of the same thing over and over again. That’s like going into a bookstore and paying for all the science fiction you can read, while other categories are prohibited.

    Seems to me, the answer would be a disitributor modelled on Amazon that would sell individual titles from multiple “studios” on a per-download basis. That way, you could have some diversity, and you would pay per title, on the basis of seeing a brief clip (just the same as buying an mp3).

    In the meantime, the pirates provide freedom to browse, including material that comes from all over, and sometimes even includes tape-to-digital and 16mm-to-digital transfers. This is interesting material–to me, anyway.

    When I find something that has a really fresh and interesting perspective, usually by some people I have never heard of (often in Japan or Europe), I’d be happy to pay a fair rate to the producers instead of a discounted rate to the pirates. But now we get to another problem: the search engines have been so corrupted, you can’t find small production companies anymore. Most of the links are to aggregators which point you to the same old 10 or 20 big players churning out the same old, same old predictable stuff.

    I take intellectual property seriously–porn and nonporn. But the production companies seem to have adopted a pigheaded model that is almost guaranteed to drive customers away.

  2. MikeZ says:

    Where exactly is the shortcoming here: “But the shortcomings of these methods are readily apparent as people rave about discovering long-retired actresses whose content has just finally trickled onto some seedy overseas-based site.” Sure your out of date but I think the standard of beauty hasn’t changed much between these time points. This is exactly what I do with most ‘traditional’ movies put out. Sure I haven’t yet seen “The Expendables” but I’m sure it will be on TNT/USA in the next year, In the mean time there are plenty of bad action movies I just tivoed “Taken”, “Wanted” two other cheezy action movies to keep be occupied and leave me no desire to spend $20 for the privilege to buy a legal DVD version of it 9 months earlier than I’ll get it for free legally.

    I’d guess that a lot of piracy has todo with this value gap. The user wants the content immediately but as the studio will be putting the content out for free relatively soon. Paying the studios prices for immediate delivery are silly.

  3. Mark Kernes says:

    DeVoy, you rock! I’ll be linking to this post soon!

  4. groanan says:

    I used to be a porn buyer, both magazines and DVDs, but then information technology changed and I cannot find a reason to spend money to take a peek at something I’ll likely forget later. I’m not looking to get off, I’m looking to horde.

    What I want is an immortal license and access to particular works, a digital locker key combination that keeps my collection, in the cloud, accessible to me always. Apple is getting close with iCloud, and if they keep accounts saved for up to a year after lapsed subscription payments, I’ll sign up for it for my music (and movies if they do that too)(currently I just listen to the radio and go to the theatre).

    I’m more okay with buying things from Apple or Amazon though, because I trust my credit card information with them; maybe if the online porn industry did not start out riddled with disreputable business practices (auto-renewing and auto-billing credit cards, double charging, sending boatloads of junk mail, etc.) more people would be buying online porn today (I trust the larger companies more, but they mostly have fairly generic stuff and have the thicker performers that I am not interested in). Currently, if I do pay for an online porn subscription, I am using a $20-$40 dollar gift card that was part of some rebate or gift, and I am doing the few day trial.

    I just want to actually buy something, and have my personal information safe from exploitation. DVDs used to fit the bill for me, but it is clear that DVDs are on their way out, and that there won’t be a replacement media (DVDs also have a shelf life and auto-self destruct after a given time).

    Where is the Netflix / Steam for porn?

  5. John David Galt says:

    Your claim to neutrality on the question of IP is blown away as soon as you misuse the word “piracy” as meaning infringement. That is like calling lawsuits “terrorism”. (Granted, many of them *do* amount to extortion.)

  6. [...] friend of In Mala Fide and occasional dispenser of legal advice J. DeVoy has a burning question for moi: So, [...]

  7. Really...? says:

    I find it VERY dubious that 80 percent of girls in (I am assuming the 30 and under demographic?) are up for anal… Lets see some sourcing on that!

  8. [...] I like thinking about the issues facing the all-important porn industry.  I’ve argued, repeatedly in fact, that its victory in the culture wars has improved my life, and the lives of other men.  I firmly [...]

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