[cross posted at my blog, Long Live the New Flesh]
So, when I do a google search for “Why Pay for Porn”, there’s not much in the way of real, substantial answers to this question. There’s a whole bunch of good reasons why you should pay for porn, but first let’s start with some background information. Let’s look at why people might pirate porn:
If you go to a tube site or torrent site, there’s usually not a process to sign up. No email, no credit card, no personal info entered anywhere. This makes the process of finding and consuming pornography a fairly anonymous activity. This is especially important to people who do not tell their partners about their pornography habits. However, this belief is not particularly well founded… There are plenty of ways to track online activity, and just because you don’t enter a credit card number doesn’t mean you’re anonymous.
Porn is often linked to viruses, Trojans, phishing, and other malicious activity. This is not completely unjustifiable. Go to any Black Hat forum, and you’ll likely see quite a bit on creating porn related exploits. However, according to the 2011 Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, pornography is #10 on the list of website categories that delivered malicious code. It accounts for only 2.4% of websites delivering malicious code, well below shopping and business sites.
Anything you do online entails a degree of risk, but if you employ some basic security processes the risk can be manageable.
I’m skeptical about this one… I think there are a number of issues at play. Due to the widespread presence of piracy, the price of porn is somewhat inflated. If someone produces a clip that only 10 people buy, they have to charge considerably more than if they had 1000 customers. Let’s say they charged $5 for the clip and made $50. If they had 1000 customers, they could charge $.05 for the clip and make the same amount. This is just an example- but you can scale it a lot of ways that still make the price quite reasonable. Should producers start charging .05 per clip right now? Of course not. It doesn’t make sense. The question is- would people pay the .05 per clip if it were available? I’d like to think so. If they would feel comfortable paying that if the conditions, why not at least buy 1-2 clips per month now? The more people pay for porn, the lower the prices will go. It could create a more stable environment for performers by allowing them to focus more on content production than on marketing. Personally, I enjoy independently produced porn, which would be more financially viable if there were a higher volume of folks paying.
When porn is pirated, it’s usually 1 of 3 ways- posted to a tube site, posted to a file sharing site with a link posted to a forum, or through a torrent site. All 3 of these options offer a high degree of flexibility when it comes to access and portability. Tube sites can pretty much be accessed anywhere, and torrents/file shares usually convert videos to standard AVI or MP4, which work well with most Operating Systems. That said, there is an increasing degree of portability present in independent porn sites. Clips4Sale allows a wide array of formats for their content, and sites like Streamate are easily used on iPads. People increasingly pay for convenience, which the Adult industry is quickly catching on to.
I feel like this is a bigger one than is usually acknowledged. Men tend to be conditioned to see women as pleasure objects, and this is heightened by porn and the anonymity of the Internet. They feel entitled to women’s bodies, and typically get insulted or violent when they’re not freely given. I’ve outlined how this plays out in the Fart Fetish community, but it appears common across the porn spectrum. It appears to be especially prevalent when it comes to pirating porn produced by women of color, as they bear the brunt not only of patriarchy but racism and colonialism, which presents a unique form of hyper sexualization.
For some reason, lots of guys see porn seeking as a form of dating… Which is fine, if you’re aware of the fact that it’s fantasy, but I get the sense a lot of guys don’t really see it that way… It doesn’t help that a bunch of cam and porn sites use misleading ads about dating sites, then send you to some performers room. That said… what guy really believes there’s some random attractive woman waiting around on her webcam in a chat room full of guys getting naked and looking for… a boyfriend? It’s an absurd delusion! Props to those who can play through this delusion, but it’s still kinda messed up that it exists in the first place.
So, we’ve outlined some reasons that might motivate someone to pirate porn. Some are more legitimate than others, but they can all be addressed in a way that’s fair to both consumers and producers of porn. Let’s get to the heart of the matter:
Why should you pay for porn?
You get what you pay for. If you order clips through a reputable site, you will be rewarded with a well thought out clip that caters to your interests. The producer will have thought out the lighting, sound, outfits, scenarios, and other aspects of porn that, if done well, are hardly noticed but greatly enhance the experience. Good independent producers do their research, and provide high quality services at reasonable prices.
When you pirate porn, the last thing you want is to interact with the models who you’re pirating, because they’ll probably be pretty pissed that you’re stealing from them. When you buy porn, you get to know a lot about the performers! You get to see their career evolve, and learn about other services they offer that wouldn’t be available to you through tube sites. Have a foot fetish? How awesome would it be to buy a pair of socks you saw in your favorite clip? You can also follow your favorite models on Twitter, so you get to know when they have new clips available or they’re available on cam or Niteflirt.
Despite the issues listed in the previous Security section, most porn sites are fairly secure. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I don’t believe in 100% secure websites, but reputable porn sites do a good job of ensuring security. I was especially impressed with a job posting I saw for NaiadDev, the company that runs Streamate. In their posting for a customer service rep, the first required skill is “Able to detect and handle social engineering calls.” Humans are usually the weakest link in a security system, so I was happy to see social engineering in the description.
In contrast, tube sites make their money off high volume traffic. They don’t have an incentive to offer good support or prevent the delivery of malicious code. The lack of oversight of these sites is appalling to me- their presence is comparable to Google or Facebook, but they don’t receive anywhere near the same level of scrutiny when it comes to protecting users and their information. Which leads to…
Tube sites and torrents which make money off traffic are much more likely to view you as the product rather than the consumer. The content they post on their sites is essentially designed to be a minimal quality tool used to record your browsing habits, personal info, search terms, browser usage, and other information that can be easily mined through websites. This information is the commodity these sites sell, in addition to banner sales and other forms of ad revenue. When you’re the product, it becomes very hard to safeguard your information.
Not Being a Dick/Supporting Women
Again, this has to do with male privilege, and the sense of entitlement men feel towards women’s bodies. There’s a whole bunch of stuff you should read up on to educate yourself if these terms are foreign to you. I’d start with:
This deserves its own post, and I will do my best to get one up in a timely manner. There are so many ways that patriarchy and misogyny effects pornography consumption… Not something that performers need to be “saved” from, but more ways that guys act that are messed up. I just don’t have the brainpower to go into it in the depth it deserves right now. The above links are a good starting point, though.
I’ve gone over this already, but will add a few more points. Porn is a luxury item, like cable TV, a Netflix subscription, a magazine or newspaper subscription, a trip to the movies, etc. These aren’t exactly human rights, but things that are nice to indulge in when you have the disposable income for it. You shouldn’t have to go into debt to buy porn, but you should pay when you can. Even buying 2 clips a month is better than not buying anything. Performers are generally understanding of financial difficulties, but when you say you can’t purchase a $3 clip, it begs the question- why are you wasting time on the Internet? Time is money, and the time you use begging for free stuff could be used finding a new or better job, selling some old stuff on eBay, or browsing Craigslist for odd jobs. If you’re not going to make the effort, why should they?
Ease of Use
It’s sooo much easier to find paid content than it is to find quality tube sites or torrents. Once you find a few sites you like, you can count on those sites to reliably supply quality content. This is especially true for niche producers. The sites are usually pretty straight forward, though I have to say the My Free Cam token system drives me nuts… Some cam sites also have daily spending limits, so it makes containing your spending much easier.
You really don’t get this from tube sites, and torrents usually do a crappy job of it. Content curation, when it comes to porn, is about the skill a producer has in creating content that caters to their audience. They listen to what people want, research different fetishes and sexological acts, and incorporate this knowledge into how they package/present their material.
What does this all boil down to?
Adult performers deserve to be paid for their time and effort. Most independent porn producers do much more than model. They typically are a one stop shop, needing to be proficient in photography, videography, photo/video/audio editing, choreography, marketing, sales, psychology, social networking, social media, accounting, PR, presentation skills, HTML, computer security, identity protection, fetishes, law, sexology, and time management… to name a few! To suggest that they don’t deserve to be compensated for their skills in these areas is sexist and insulting. If people don’t pay for porn, they will take these skills and go elsewhere. Let’s not let that happen!