July 13, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER
Join the Roll Call Book Club July 23 for a discussion with Brigid Schulte, author of "Overwhelmed." Click here to register.

SOPA Fight Pits Big Porn Against Little Porn

David Livingston/Getty Images
Hustler creator Larry Flynt said Thursday he wants to defend his adult productions from overseas online pirates but was skeptical of government censorship.

“No matter what the flaws are with the bills, the producers want something with a strong hand to come in,” said Allison Vivas, the president of Pink Visual, an adult entertainment company that specializes in mobile and Internet-based distribution. “We are a little bit more concerned. ... When the government is responsible for enforcing these laws, there is always the concern that we in the adult industry will be overlooked. We don’t have the lobbying forces that [the movie and recording industry] have.”

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) tried to make SOPA worse for pornographers, introducing an amendment to the bill that would have prevented the Justice Department from using taxpayer dollars to protect pornographers’ copyrights by going after rogue sites. The amendment failed.

“He was concerned that SOPA’s main beneficiary would be companies that distribute pornography,” a Polis aide said in an e-mail to Roll Call. “The industry is known for being the biggest IP trolls out there and they’re more than capable of defending their IP claims without taxpayer assistance.”

Adult film producers said they have reached out to join forces with the Motion Picture Association of America, the movie industry trade group that aggressively lobbied for SOPA, but they have not been welcomed.

“A lot of those guys don’t want anything to do with our business; they look at us as absolute pariahs,” Hirsch said. “They probably all watch our movies.”

Enter the Free Speech Coalition, the trade association representing the adult entertainment industry. The organization works on behalf of both the content producers as well as the streaming websites and has been running an anti-piracy campaign for more than a year.

The Free Speech Coalition’s annual budget of about $500,000 pales in comparison with the MPAA, which spent more than $1.6 million on lobbying alone in 2010.

But copyright protection is a tough argument to sell in the porn universe. Vivid has struggled to convince customers that unless something is done about the piracy problem, the industry will produce fewer and fewer movies every year.

“People want things for free, and free trumps everything,” Hirsch said. “When it comes to adult content, some people only watch it for five or 10 minutes. It’s easy to pirate a clip and get it out there. And for some people that’s all the time they need.”

“It’s tough because you have the producers of content who want the piracy managed, but then you have the tube sites,” said the coalition’s membership director, Joanne Cachapero. “Many of those [people] come from IT backgrounds and feel very passionate about the freedom of the Internet.”

In ignoring the porn perspective, Hollywood may be missing some vital warning signs, the coalition’s chief lobbyist cautioned.

“The mainstream movie industry hasn’t experienced the kind of government overreach that our industry has, so we are much more reticent to just open our arms to any kind of government regulations,” said Diane Duke, a registered lobbyist for the organization. But she added, “We have no problem with going after tube sites that are violating copyright law with guns blazing.”

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

comments powered by Disqus

SIGN IN




OR

SUBSCRIBE

Want Roll Call on your doorstep?