March 30, 2007 12:59 PM PDT

At, a live tool against piracy

SAN FRANCISCO--Lexi Love has thrown herself headlong into a four-hour shoot at, an adult video company with a Web site that's pushing the envelope in both technology and taste.

Love, an experienced porn star who flew up from Los Angeles for one day earlier this week, is surrounded by a three-person video crew and computer-controlled mechanical devices that can't be adequately described in a family publication.

Soon, a video of Love will be extracted from the high-definition video camera's attached hard drive, edited, rearranged, converted to multiple formats, and made available on a Web site for anyone who pays a subscription fee of $30 a month. The nearly imperceptible clicks of a still camera's shutter--shoots are also photographed--are painstakingly removed during editing so they can't be heard on the soundtrack.

That, simply put, is's business model, and it has propelled the company to a prominent position in the adult entertainment business. Revenue was reportedly $20 million last year, and the company recently made headlines for buying San Francisco's former National Guard Armory, a sprawling structure with a dank and dilapidated basement said to be perfect for filming the so-called fetish entertainment for which the company is known.

It's often said that adult entertainment companies were the first to figure out how to profitably sell content on the Internet, and that they have continually found new and inventive ways to take advantage of the interactive medium while titillating their audiences.

Now is on the cutting edge of the fight against video piracy. While mainstream entertainment outlets like Viacom and NBC complain noisily about YouTube,, with neither the resources nor the mainstream appeal of its giant counterparts, is in an even tougher fight: Protecting the content it produces that's continually copied and reposted on the dozens of Web sites that traffic in poached adult material.

"It's an uphill battle--it's never-ending," founder Peter Acworth said about copyright infringement in an interview with CNET "That's one reason we're moving in a live-show direction."

Like other online publishers, has had to puzzle out ways to deal with the perennial problem of copyright infringement on peer-to-peer networks and Usenet.'s solution is live shows. In some ways, it's is a throwback to a more analog era, back when the Grateful Dead encouraged taping and sharing of live concerts (while still charging admission). The band Phish follows the same model today by authorizing taping and Internet sharing for "non-commercial purposes."

Earlier this month, began streaming live 1080i high-definition video--at a time when mainstream sites such as offer jerky, blurry pre-edited clips at roughly one-tenth the resolution of high-def.

"I haven't actually seen live high-def streaming elsewhere," Acworth said.

Better than banking

Ackworth's office boasts an impressive collection of pornographic DVDs but otherwise could belong to any other high-tech entrepreneur. And that, despite what he produces, is essentially what he is.

A genteel Brit with degrees from Cambridge University and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Paris, Acworth moved into the adult entertainment business while working toward a doctorate in finance at Columbia University. He came across a 1997 news article describing the money to be made through Internet porn and decided he'd rather be an entrepreneur than work in a bank for the rest of his life. now has around 70 employees and 10 Web sites, with three more (including "The Training of O" and "My First Time Bound") scheduled to be launched by mid-2007.

As has grown, so has the porn sector. Some estimates place the U.S. share of the industry at as much as $20 billion, though $10 billion is more widely accepted. The market for porn internationally is up to five times as large. Adult mobile content generated $1.4 billion in sales worldwide last year and will balloon to $3.3 billion by 2011, according to Juniper Research.

It is an article of faith among the digerati that pornography drives advances in technology. The argument goes something like this: VHS bested Sony's rival Beta format because that's where skin flicks were widely available. The Super 8 camcorder became so popular because of its devotees among amateur and professional pornographers. At-home downloading of porn spurred the growth of broadband and online credit card processing.

CONTINUED: Threat of criminal prosecution…
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Its really pathetic that we have a need for pornography. Sadly it shows how anti-sexual we've become. Silly how we rather watch others engage in sex that be an active participant. We should hook up more and get rid of this need to be a voyeur.
Posted by chelbe00 (3 comments )
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HIstory lesson
Porn has been around since the begining of recorded history. It clearly isn't going away and is in some fashion ingrained in human behavior.
Posted by J. Blow (193 comments )
Link Flag
"Silly how we rather watch others engage in sex that be an active participant. We should hook up more and get rid of this need to be a voyeur."

-Says chelbe00 from a CNET forum.

The "hook up" culture is as as prominent now as ever. If it isn't more prominent now it is at least more out in the open.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Link Flag
I'm confused...
Is this preventing piracy just because it's a value-added incentive that is only available to legitimate customers? (So, only the 300 people in the chat room could suggest, "Spank her harder")

I don't see why someone couldn't simply record the feed as it was being streamed to their computer, and share it later as they pleased.
Posted by HandGlad2 (91 comments )
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why not shoot in 720p? monitors don't display interlace. Are they assuming it is being played back only on TV's that do?
Posted by J. Blow (193 comments )
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no interlace
1080i either stands for 1920*540 at 60 frames/sec OR 1920*1080
at 25 frames/sec.
Posted by SamoUmer (8 comments )
Link Flag
Porn Star! Try Porn filth :(
How can you call these people/women who appear in these videos Porn Stars!
They are at best 2 bit dirty hoe :(
Who have sold their soul for a mere few Hundred dollars to $2000 max.
A movie star, gets like $5Mill per movie, these miserable lost women who appear in these videos where they are depicted as less than animals, or
objects, get paid usually at most $2000.
How can you glorify this filthy act, of appearing in a porn video set aside making it and disturbing it as anything but a sad and pathetic act for sad and pathetic people who buy them. Specially what this makes which is bondage videos.
For example in one series of videos they have women "Hog tied" ramming blunt objects into their vaginas by machines! How can you glorify the outfit and people who make these filth?
Let me ask you this, if your daughter or mother appeared in one of these porn videos at, would you consider her a "Porn Star"? Or would you consider that she has ruined your life since beside degrading herself to the level of slime, she has also degraded her whole family to that level.
Posted by Sandra_Kerns (25 comments )
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not the issue
The issue isnt that they are getting paid. The fact is that other sex workers get paid but its illegal because they dont use a camera during the sex act. Consider the government says its a matter of free speech to have sex on camera, but its illegal to pay someone to have sex. The reason is simple, porn controls our sexual desires and pornographers take advantage of this.

We as a society are to blame, not the pornographers. If we really wanted sex, we could eliminate porn. But we dont want to since we rather watch others--which is more obscene. We need to turn the tables on them by not watching the crap they produce, hookup, and have more sex. We really dont need their crap if we legalized prostitution, permitted the establishment of sex clubs and were more open to each other. But that wont happen..we are phoney as they are.
Posted by chelbe00 (3 comments )
Link Flag
You have one thing right in your statement. They are not Porn Stars. Being familiar with people at and many of the models, I know they are not doing this for the buck. Almost all of these women are active in the BDSM community at large and do this more for fun than a paycheck. There are clubs all over the country where people do this without a paycheck for 100s of people to see, because that is WHO THEY ARE. So come on, step down from your high horse and cross over to the dark side. We Have Cookies
Posted by boyKyle (2 comments )
Link Flag
Who the hell cares about piracy at
This is like posting armed guards at the sewage treatment plant.
Posted by fcekuahd (244 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Piracy, a concern?
He cares so much about his crap being pirated, but he doesn't seem to care about the safety and health of the people in his crap films. Did you know that he bought a building called the Armory in San Francisco? He doesn't have to earthquake proof it or remove asbestos, lead or other toxic metals. But piracy is his concern. I guess the building falling down on his employees or breathing in toxic dust doesn't seem to warrant the concern.
Posted by rob9567 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
On their demand
If hooking up is so much more common why do we still have this crap? Porn has been around for ages supposedly but not to the degree that we have now.

Also funny how the use of a video camera on people paid to have sex allows the producers to provide their workers with health benefits. Contrast that to the alleged illegal activities of other sex workers who simply do not appear on a camera to get paid to have sex. There is no regulation, no benefits. They are hung out to dry with government approval.

As for the producers mentioned who think that making a video live will reduce the threat of illegal copying of their "precious material" here is a question.

Have you ever considered how people use this? If you did you would know that the urge to watch and release is dependant on the level of need. So in their world, you wait till they turn on the camera, then you engage in that oh so solo activity. Its like you've gotten a real date with the camera.
Posted by chelbe00 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Some of the first porn filmed on camera was a guy whipping a girl. This is human nature. Get used to it.
Posted by boyKyle (2 comments )
Link Flag
Sorry Peanut Gallery But Porn Is Profitable & Your Comments A Waste Of Time
I don't know where most of the pedantic commentary is coming from...seems they are new to not only Cnet, but the concepts discussed in the article. Note how one blithering "commentor" brings in his assessment that somehow by buying SF's abandoned historic Armory as a studio, now the amiable Acworth is somehow a villian to those who work for him. Nothing could be further from the truth, and while the imagery may not be your cup of tea, it's created in a legal & taxed manner & done here creating work in the US. There's good news here in that you don't have to watch it if you don't want to, and that the anti piracy measures will likely keep you from seeing it, even if you want to. Those who can't grasp how his business has grown, or get over their own prejudice are sadly distracted by it none the less. Maybe they should work hard and achieve something as well, instead of sitting in the peanut gallery and whining about how others are getting ahead.
Posted by lilmikesf (4 comments )
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