Tube Life

Tom Hymes
This time it was Twistys turn to publicize their position with regard to Tube sites. Shap did the dirty work and expressed his company's stance very articulately on GFY. Still, as expected, he was immediately set upon by the mob as if he'd just announced the opening of a child porn brokerage. Others leaped to his defense.

I will not attempt to relay the arguments for why Twistys has decided to try to work with one of the largest Tube sites rather than take a uniformly hostile stance against them. Whether I agree with their position or not, Shap made clear that it had not been an easy decision and that a great deal of discussion had gone into it, which I do not doubt.

I will, however, comment on a remark Shap made that leapt out at me from the screen.

"Tube sites," he wrote, "are indicative of how people surf for their porn today."

This, I think, is the obvious crux of both the problem and the opportunity that so many companies are finding impossible to ignore. We live in a consumer-driven digital economy, with a serious emphasis on the "consumer-driven" part of the equation. Surfing and viewing habits are changing, and companies are trying to figure out how to change with them. It is now clear to everyone that the old model of "build it and they will come" can no longer be counted on. It is the resulting lack of security that has the traditional media companies shaking in their boots.

But people are not just changing the way they surf for porn; they are changing the way they surf for everything. It was my pleasure to sit with Treasure from Homegrown Video for a few hours at the XBIZ Hollywood conference while she gave me a tutorial on the current state of consumer surfing habits and the phenomenal tools they are using to enhance their online experience. I am not a complete dunce in this area, but still it was eyeopening, and I do believe Treasure when she says that adult is pathetically behind in even recognizing the morphing landscape, much less engaging it!

The problem of course is that many consumers have become reconditioned to expect free content, especially adult content, of which there is a plethora. For any copyright holder, this is an alarming state of affairs. Even for those content producers who are enlightened about the opportunities available in the new media/communication paradigm, having one's product consistently ripped and shared on a global basis is not a laughing matter.

Clearly, these issues are nothing new for adult. Theft of content has been a hallmark of this industry from the beginning, on and offline. It's just that now the capabilities are so much greater, the number of tube sites so much larger, the competition so much more and the sophistication of the surfer so evolved that the prospect of making content and also individually protecting its integrity is too daunting.

Can the current standoff, in which a potentially legitimate business model (tube sites) is in direct conflict with a legitimate but threatened business (content production), continue? I don't really think so, because there is something inherently unfair about how the playing field is currently aligned. The thieves have the advantage.

Without killing the new paradigm, the field has got to be made more level.

Postscript: Twistys has since ceased working with the tube site in question.