"I'm not of the mind that someone who pirates one piece of content is never going to purchase another piece of content."
That statement was made a couple of months ago by Quentin Boyer, a spokesman for adult-film company Pink Visual. Los Angeles-based Pink Visual has eschewed filing copyright suits against alleged film pirates in the hope that it can strike some kind of balance in a world where unauthorized digital photos, books, movies, and music are so easily passed around the Internet.
This year, a growing number of porn studios, including such top triple-x filmmakers as Vivid Entertainment and Larry Flynt Publications, have accused thousands of suspected film pirates from across the country of violating their copyrights. These legal efforts have suffered several setbacks, but they continue to wind through the courts. Managers at Pink Visual are skeptical that lawsuits are the right approach.
I interviewed Boyer about Pink Visual's plans to soon launch a cloud-video service that enables users to store movie clips they buy from Pink Visual on the company's servers. This is one of the ways Pink Visual wants to fight piracy. The company hopes to out-market, out-promote, and out-innovate illegal file-sharing services. The plan is to make content so easily available at such a fair price that piracy is less attractive to the company's audience.
Boyer wanted to make it clear that Pink Visual managers aren't fans of illegal file sharing and he argued that piracy has cut deeply into the porn sector's revenue. The company doesn't criticize other companies for taking a different approach to piracy, and added, "who knows, we could be wrong."
But Boyer made some intriguing points about Pink Visual's approach to piracy, which, set against the backdrop of increasing litigation at porn and indie film studios, seemed important enough to pass along.
You've had a lot of companies, both in mainstream and adult entertainment, who've been kind of stubborn on the question of access and convenience. They want people consuming their content the way the companies want it consumed. They want to monetize it the way they want to. About two years ago we began to see that as a losing battle.
In November, we actively began to engage user communities. Some people would identify them as pirate communities. Certainly, that's not the term we would use. For sure, there are content pirates among them too, but there are a lot of fans and a lot of potential customers. We started asking them 'What would make you more likely to purchase?' 'What do you want to see and what don't you want to see?'
A consumer who will come onto the Internet and buy adult content is someone who wants access and convenience. At the end of the day, lots of people provide the same kind of content. So, how do I differentiate myself as an adult-content producer? I give them better technology, better user experience, and better price point.
Part of our thinking is that you don't really benefit from bickering [or] by pointing fingers at the large user base that's out there. Setting aside for a second the question of whether some of them are ripping your content from a DVD and uploading it to the torrents, what do I have to gain by ostracizing this huge group of people, which is a mixed bag of people who might be willing to purchase and people who will never purchase?
I don't want to paint them all with the same brush. I think that's the mistake that some in mainstream entertainment have made, and I think that mistake's being replicated in the adult industry. I certainly understand the frustration that rights holders feel. We experience the same frustration. But at some point you have to be pragmatic and say, "OK piracy is a fact of life. It's been there for a long time. Now what?"
The important question is, can you make your appeal more effective? Can you make your marketing more effective and draw the people who are willing to purchase from you out from that population and get them to buy what you're selling?