Lively Sessions, Networking at XBIZ LA's Day 2

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — XBIZ LA continued on Wednesday with a busy Mix & Meet Market, packed seminar halls and popular "3-Minute Show-Off" and XBIZ Speed Networking sessions.

The conference also offered the ever-popular lunch buffet at the host Sofitel hotel's Simon LA and featured an evening reception for XBIZ LA attendees, sponsored by Adult Webmaster Empire, which was held at the hotel's Stone Rose Lounge.

Later in the evening, CommerceGate and Vivid.com sponsored the invitation-only Elite Traffic Gathering cocktail reception, as well as "The Beverly Bash" at the nearby Beverly nightclub.

Day 2 of XBIZ LA followed Tuesday's 2012 XBIZ Awards, where the adult entertainment industry gathered to honor the winning studios, site operators, porn stars, hosting and billing companies, as well as sex toy and novelty manufacturers and distributors (for a complete list of winners, click here).

Kicking off Wednesday's day of events was the Mix & Meet Market, where  companies showcased their latest adult business products, services and solutions, and the XBIZ Speed Networking, sponsored by NETbilling.

Toward the latter part of Wednesday, three hour-long sessions at XBIZ LA offered bird's eye views on a new collaboration by mainstream studios over Internet piracy, how the businesses top execs are handling the latest burning issues and the history of one of the top billing execs in the biz, Ron Cadwell, and how he rose to be the top processor.

The first session of the day, "Anti-Piracy Today," offered legal expert Doug Lichtman, a UCLA law professor that specializes in patent and copyright law and telecommunications regulation.

The session, hosted by Allison Vivas, drew curious XBIZ LA attendees interested in hearing Lichtman's wisdom on the importance of early intervention, using creativity and evolving strategies when it comes to online piracy.

Lichtman said that he's involved in negotiating a deal with mainstream studios and ISPs in creating a landmark agreement on a common framework for “copyright alerts,”  a system similar to credit card fraud alerts that intends to educate and notify Internet subscribers when their accounts possibly are being misused for online content theft.

Calling them "warm 'nastygrams,'" he said that all of the major U.S. ISPs have signed on and that the adult industry, in groups or as a whole, should put this type of system on its radar.

"It's not heavy handed," he said. "The idea is to win hearts and minds to the issue of piracy. The goal isn't to stop piracy completely ... some of the piracy is motivated by other things, such as convenience."

Lichtman went on to say that the consuming pirate may be your best customer in the future, and that the content and technology industries realize that "with technology, it's always a cat-and-mouse game, where there's always going to be somebody who out-smarts the system in place."

"Most people who used such file-sharing systems, such as Grokster in the past, did so because the music industry didn't even offer music online 12 years ago," Lichtman said. "The game plan is to keep the peace."

But Lichtman said that repeat offenders could be subject to bandwidth throttling under the plan.

XBIZ LA's second session of the day included a one-on-one interview, part of the XBIZ Keynote Series, with CCBill CEO Ron Cadwell by Wasteland's Colin Rowntree.

Cadwell dug back into how he started CCBill out of his chiropractic office in the Phoenix area.

"We were selling juicers out of the office, and later became a successful web business," Cadwell  said. "But we needed more bandwidth and it became apparent that we needed a billing solution.

That's when Cadwell was introduced to Rowntree, who also needed more bandwidth. Later a deal was struck that would become the beginning of Cadwell's family business.

"We took over office after office ... and the reception desk became our call center," he said. "We kept on growing from there."

As an entrepreneur who has witnessed online adult business' rise from its beginning, Cadwell said that there have been a number of massive fails, too.

"Amex is a good one," he said. "The credit card was in business with adult for about one year, and then overnight said goodbye to it. You also could count PayPal, which was bought by eBay — same thing. Overnight they said goodbye to the biz."

Cadwell reminisced to the more "golden days," such as when programs like MaxCash rewarded affiliates with such perks as cruises out of Florida.

"MaxCash rented a cruise ship for its 800 webmasters it worked with," he said. "It was like out of the Wild West ... it was a time when you had more customers than you could worry about. Things were done fast and loose."

Cadwell also chimed in on such topics as .XXX and where 2012 is going for the biz.

"As for .XXX, I think it will have a short lifespan," Cadwell said. "When there will be gTLDs offered, it's going to be done. Sorry CorbinFisher, I wouldn't want to spend $500,000 [referring to the publicized purchase priced of Gay.xxx]."

Cadwell said that banks lately are easing up on credit lines, and that is good for the consuming public and, thus, the adult industry as a whole.

"I don't know why, but we are seeing more re-bills go through and we are seeing more people buying in the U.S.," he said. "And we're not seeing a decline in Euro sales at all.

"You're also not seeing the [financial] swings so bad, either," he said.

Wednesday's last session of the day, "Grand Finale: State of the Industry," offered a lively panel, including CommerceGate's Bjorn Skarlen, Hustler's Michael Klein, Pink Visual's Allison Vivas, MojoHost's Brad Mitchell, AWE's Douglas Richter and AdultCentro's Stan DaMan.

The session was hosted by Battleship Stance's Jason Tucker.

The panel discussed some of today’s hot-button trends and topics, including the integration of mobile, particularly tablet, devices into the adult mix and the general acceptance of legal tube sites.

Skarlen said that "tube sites are accepted — they are here," while Klein said that "there are ways to give it for free and there's ways to grow it."

But Klein said it has taken litigation efforts for the tube sites streaming pirated content to comply.

"Lawsuits have changed the way tube sites operate," he said.

Tucker, the moderator, asked panel experts to weigh in on "the big elephant in the room," referring to .XXX.

Klein, who said Hustler hasn't purchased any .XXX domains, said that his company has taken a stance.

"We've been very vocal, and we think it is a wash," he said. "If people are going to look for adult, they're going to go to a .com. Anything above what you pay at GoDaddy for a .com is a waste of time."

Vivas, meanwhile, said that her company also has not taken out a .XXX domain but that already three unauthorized "Pink Visual" sites have sprung up.

"There's no benefit to registering a .XXX, but I think that Stuart [Lawley]  is a genius to be able push this through ICANN. He knows how to work the system, and I think he will be very conservative how this continues to roll out."

Richter said that AWE won't be buying any .XXXs.

"There will be no intention in buying the names  — we see it as extortion of webmaster funds, and we already can police our industry [referring to IFFOR, which was established to become a .XXX watchdog]."

Skarlen, of CommerceGate, said he has high hopes for .XXX.

"I hope it will be as successful as .TV," he said. "It is a mouse that I hope stays as a mouse."

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