Content Piracy Concerns Inflated?

LOS ANGELES — Is DVD piracy really to blame for declining DVD sales? For the most part, adult industry professionals say yes, despite a lack of hard evidence and a startling admission from Hollywood.

Over the hill in the mainstream movie world, the Motion Picture Association of America backtracked on an earlier claim it had made that college students were responsible for 44 percent of the industry's financial losses due to illegal pirating and downloading.

But new reports confirmed that college students are to blame for only 15 percent of the movie industry's woes. Hollywood was wrong about piracy by a factor of three in this case. Could the adult industry have made the same blunder?

FSC Executive Director Diane Duke said that she did not believe it had, telling XBIZ that she had read estimates of losses as high as 50 percent for the global adult industry. (Industry attorney Greg Piccionelli made such a reference to potential losses in a 2007 article in XBIZ).

Duke added there have been no studies done to confirm that estimate.

"We don't have any hard evidence, but we believe it's hurting the bottom line," she said.

All Media Play President Jeff Mullen agreed. He told XBIZ that piracy is one of the two largest problems facing adult today, coming in second only to free content.

But Matrix Content President Stephen Bugbee told XBIZ that while piracy is a problem, it's not the main one.

"I beleive the decline in DVD sales has way more to do with technology than piracy," he said, explaining that as the Internet becomes a better delivery platform for video content, more consumers will go online instead of to the adult bookstore to get their fix.

So if piracy is still the problem, what's the solution? Web guru Brandon Shalton told XBIZ it's simple: Know thy customer.

"So many webmasters don't know or follow that rule," he said. "And they think surfers are just dollar signs. They're not. They can decide where they want to spend their money."

Shalton, founder of the traffic analysis service T3Report.com, praised premier companies like BangBros.com and HomeGrownVideo.com as examples of organizations that have kept their online content relevant.

But most professionals agreed that the industry should go on the offensive. Mullen suggested that companies who are seeing declining sales should form a coalition to fight piracy, while Shalton said that the savviest companies know how to send a good cease-and-desist letter.

Fortunately, Duke said that the FSC is joining forces with the Global Anti-Piracy Agency to offer seminars about how companies can fight piracy. They plan to announce more details in the coming days, but Duke said to expect seminars at the Phoenix Forum and at the XBIZ Summer Forum.

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