opinion

The Future of Free Porn

Anand Ramchandran
I know this topic has been hashed, rehashed and then some on every board and discussion forum in the adult industry. Let's just say I got tired of making galleries which my free-loading visitors enjoy but don't want to pay for, and I needed a break. Also, I guess have a right to add my two cents to the discussion, even if you think I'm a jerk. And, ultimately, that's what it comes down to – the mainstream and the crusaders calling us jerks and us harping about our and our consumers' right of free speech.

What 'They' Want
It's very simple - not one 'obscene' image to be seen by anyone, anywhere on the net, unless they can prove they're legally entitled to view them. Are they going to get what they want? Not in the near future – regardless of how many laws they pass. Why? Because a) the Internet is not something which can be policed. b) Unless there's an international agreement to come up with a set of guidelines and efforts to implement them, they might as well give up. Here's a very good summary of Obscenity Laws. They started in 1727 and still haven't made any headway.

What 'We' Want
To be left alone to peddle porn? I know – that was too easy. I honestly believe that porn is what fuels the growth of the Internet. We have been at the forefront of the success of almost every new technology that has been thrown up on the net. We apply it first; the mainstream takes a look at our success and then loses no time in applying it. When the dot.com bubble burst, the only things left standing on the Internet were porn sites and search engines. The point being that porn and the Internet are pretty much inseparable. The problem comes when we want too much. We are also at the forefront of the innovative application of spam, popup hell, underage performers, et al. This is a side effect of the lack of laws and policing on the wild Internet.

The anonymous nature of the net, which drives our success, is ironically the reason for most of our problems. While it's all very good to send checks to affiliates in their personal name, without any need for a company – it also makes you think twice before you can call porn an 'industry'. There is no 'union' for performers, no industry association worth its name protecting the rights of pornographers. You wonder, is this what you want? I mean, ok, so you're making a quick buck without anyone poking his nose into what you're up to. But your operation could go down in flames any day - you're always trying to catch up with the new regulations popping up every other day and your bank doesn't want anything to do with you. Worst of all, while the government is trying to find ways to boost the production and income of other industries, it's trying to close you down. Not a good way to underwrite your kids' college fund and a new iPod.

Check Your Premises
Ayn Rand used a line in one of her novels which got stuck in my sandpaper memory; "When you face a contradiction, check your premises," or something like that. Meaning, since the powers-that-be and the adult entertainment industry hold seemingly opposing viewpoints, there has to be something wrong somewhere. The problem lies in the perception of sex and the human anatomy as something which is best looked at with the lights off. Why make such a big deal about a naked body on the net? Precisely because there is a shortage of nakedness in real life.

The harping about porn on the net does not signify the twistedness of it's purveyors – it signifies the hypocrisy of its opposers – who would enjoy a naked body in the privacy of their bedroom, but oppose the same thing in public, thus making it look 'wrong' to enjoy nakedness. It's no coincidence that the Dutch are coming up fast as a major player in the porn industry, since their society is one of the most open-minded when it comes to sex. In short, we aren't weird, you are.

End Result?
I'm going out on a limb here to make a prediction. The Internet is going to be policed, sooner rather than later. There are a multitude of ways to do it, including control of the billing processors, web hosts and last but not least - the search engines. We all know how Visa has been tightening its rules. We also know how ISP's have introduced filtering mechanisms. But these two still can't control the flow of free porn. What can and will control it is a nexus between the authorities and the search engines.

Who has access to and a record of every page on the net? Who can hand over a list of every free porn site on the net? Who can immediately detect the presence of a new porn site on the net? That's Google, Yahoo and MSN search. So what happens if the government decides to ban 'free porn' and demands that the search engines use their technology to help them implement the ban? The way I see it, in a decade, the only thing available for free will be the title and description Meta tags of the home page of a porn site. The rest of it will have to be behind a credit card verification login. If any jerk decides to show more than that, the search engines detect it and the jerk is hauled off. I'll also go so far as to say that MSN search will be the first to comply followed by Yahoo and then reluctantly by Google. So much for free speech.

Free porn and the online adult entertainment industry are one of the last standing bastions of something I have great respect for – The American Dream. If you have a computer, an Internet connection, insomnia and very little else, you can immediately become a part of this industry and start to earn a decent living. That alone makes it worth fighting for.

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