The LA Times wrote a big hit piece on the adult industry the other day while simultaneously promoting theft.
Content is a product owned by someone. It could be owned by you or me, some random studio. In the end, it’s still something owned by someone. It’s no different than owning a car or stocks in a company, a laptop, or even an iPhone. Content is something someone owns. Something someone created.
The law protects something someone else owns, and if someone steals it, that’s theft. The law that regulates the theft of content falls under copyright law.
Copyright infringement is a felony punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine under 17 U.S.C.
Let’s be clear: stealing someone else’s content is an actual crime. While most copyright infringement is typically handled between two private parties (a civil matter), it can rise to criminal charges when the government takes action because the illegal use or sharing of copyright material is done on purpose.
And this isn’t new. The concept of protecting your content goes back a long way. In fact, here’s an old newspaper ad from 1906 for copyright preparation services.
When a person creates a piece of content, it costs them their time and real money. Creating content can be expensive. So it absolutely sucks when someone steals it.
The good news is there are laws to protect copyright owners.
Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.
So if you own the content, and someone steals it, why is it a bad thing to fight for your rights and sue them for it?
Because the LA Times just said that very thing, with their latest article titled, “This porn company makes millions by shaming porn consumers.”
I mean, how dare Vixen Media Group try to stop people from stealing their content?
And they didn’t just file a couple of suits against like 20 guys, they went to town. According to the article, they have 3,311 cases this year alone.
So why is that a bad thing?
Someone stole their content, and they are using the law to fight back? Tell me why this is a bad thing.
Vixen Media Group makes up more than 1,700 copyrighted adult films distributed on video or via subscriptions to its online services, which include Vixen, Tushy, Blacked, Deeper, Slayed, and MILFy.
Vixen hires a location, makeup artist, production assistant, lighting guy, cameraman, director, photographer, and sound guy, pays for the costumes, then hires the performers, the video editors, and the graphics artist to make the box cover and edit the photos, licenses musical clips for the background or intro/outros and let’s not forget the related legal fees for all of the paperwork required by law to release that content.
A commercial production of a single scene can get expensive. None of that includes the marketing of the product or the expenses involved in maintaining the website, which includes billing fees, web hosting, CMS, server security, social media team, affiliate marketing team, etc. I’m just talking about making a single piece of content.
But somehow, Vixen Media Group (Strike 3 Holdings) is the bad guy for fighting to protect their product?
This is the argument.
“Given the nature of the films at issue,” a federal judge in Connecticut observed last year, “defendants may feel coerced to settle these suits merely to prevent public disclosure of their identifying information, even if they believe they have been misidentified.”
You don’t just randomly pull a name out of your ass. You put the work in to find out who that person is.
The lawsuits follow a standard road map. Strike 3, like other similar plaintiffs, starts by identifying the defendant only by his or her IP address, a designation typically assigned to users’ computers by their internet service provider, ostensibly used to download content from BitTorrent. At that stage, the defendant is identified in court papers only as “John Doe.”
The plaintiffs then ask a federal judge for permission to subpoena the internet service provider — which could be AT&T, Spectrum, Frontier, or another provider — for the name and address of the subscriber with that IP address. Judges have almost invariably granted these requests routinely.
Armed with the name, the plaintiffs proceed by sending a letter implicitly threatening the subscriber with public exposure as a pornography viewer and explicitly with the statutory penalties for infringement written into federal copyright law — up to $150,000 for each example of willful infringement and from $750 to $30,0000 otherwise.
To be clear here, many companies do this. Vixen isn’t the only guy out there suing people for stealing their shit. X-Art is pretty well known for it, the company that owns Pornhub has a big legal department as well. Thieves call these companies “copyright trolls,” trying to make the content owners seem like the bad guys, but in reality, the person who stole the content is the bad guy.
Imagine waking up one day to find out someone stole your car or your laptop. Wouldn’t you be mad?
Of course, you would be! And you would want to use the laws that protect you from theft to help you fight back against whoever it was that stole your shit, right?
That is what Vixen is doing. They are a big company, so they have a lot of people stealing their content. But in the end, they were only able to identify 3,311 this year, and those are the ones they targeted. That doesn’t mean they won’t continue to try and identify more in the future, but for now, for this year they were only able to find 3,311 people who stole their content, and it is those people who will not have to face punishment for their crime.
And it is a crime.
A two-year-old knows that you can’t steal from people. So you can’t say oh well they didn’t know it was against the law to download that scene illegally. They fucking knew.
But X-Art and Pornhub, and Vixen are big companies.
What about porn stars who create content, too, for their OnlyFans?
Well, they are stolen from as well.
And they have the very same rights that these bigger companies do.
Fourteen days ago, a porn star who will remain unnamed for now released a new scene on her OnlyFans that was digitally watermarked that featured her and two male performers. A mere four later, a scan revealed that 1002 people had stolen it and shared it; by day 10, that number had gone up to 9719, and by day fourteen, 31,579 people had stolen and posted that video on the internet.
Thirty-one thousand five hundred seventy-nine incidents of theft in 14 days of a single piece of content she created and posted exclusively to her OnlyFans.
With the advancement of AI, this kind of theft is becoming easier to track. But the problem isn’t always tracking the theft as it is properly identifying the person who stole it in a way that the courts will approve of.
This particular porn star isn’t alone. Girls create content for their OnlyFans all the time that is then stolen and passed around for free. This is how these girls make their living. This is how they support themselves. And these people are stealing from them.
How can the LA Times support this kind of behavior?
Is it okay to threaten to publicly shame people who do this? Why not? I think we should publicly shame the LA Times and the reporter for writing that stupid article. His name is Michael Hiltzik, by the way. I mean, maybe it’s not his fault. Maybe his parents never taught him as a child that it’s not okay to steal from people. Maybe the blame should be placed on his parents and not him for not raising him right.
But either way, it doesn’t change the fact stealing content is not okay.
Stealing anything is not okay.
I mean, sadly, we have to say that to a grown-ass man, but apparently this “business columnist” needs to be explained this like he’s a two-year-old.
Want to know the scary part? Michael Hiltzik is, according to his bio, a “Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist”.
But fuck that guy. Back to the real issue … content theft.
If someone stealing your shit matters, let’s take a moment to support those who are using the law to fight back because every case, they are able to win, and by winning, sometimes that means getting a settlement with the thief, which means that’s one less piece of shit content thief we have out there stealing our own stuff.
A girl deserves to be able to make content for her OnlyFans and not worry about some jackass stealing it and giving it out for free.
One day, we’ll be able to affordably digitally watermark everything to trace the thief’s digital footprint, and the courts will catch up with these kinds of technology so they can affordably fight back against theft. Digital dynamic watermarks are not visible, but they can often include user-specific data, which helps the content owner identify parents if the video gets shared illegally. Plus, unlike regular watermarks that are often cropped off, it’s much more difficult to remove a digital or dynamic watermark in part because you can’t actually see it.
But we’ll talk more about that later. For now, just remember that when you read stupid stories like the one that the LA Times wrote about Vixen fighting for their rights.