Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Biggest Filer of Copyright Lawsuits? This Erotica Web Site; New Yorker, 5/15/14

Gabe Friedman, New Yorker; The Biggest Filer of Copyright Lawsuits? This Erotica Web Site:
"In 2006, Colette Pelissier was selling houses in Southern California, and her boyfriend, Brigham Field, was working as a photographer of nude models. Colette wanted to leave the real-estate business, so she convinced her boyfriend to start making adult films. “I had this idea, when the real-estate market was cooling—you know, maybe we could make beautiful erotic movies,” she said.
By 2009, they had started shooting adult films in places like Madrid and Prague, and launched a Web site, X-art.com. The site promises erotica featuring “gorgeous fashion models” from “the USA, Europe, South America and Beyond.” For forty dollars a month, subscribers have unlimited access to a growing collection of short films. The site attracted a few hundred subscribers in its first year, then a couple thousand the next; it became profitable by 2010. The couple married in 2011; Pelissier changed her last name to Pelissier Field. That year, she noticed a change at X-art.com: the number of subscribers—the site had about fifty thousand by then—had stopped growing. The Fields hired an outside company to investigate whether people were watching their films without paying. They concluded that, each month, three hundred thousand people were watching pirated versions of their movies—including eighty thousand in the U.S. “We felt like we had to do something,” she said. “I don’t want to wake up in five years and have everything be free.”
Adult-film companies are not the only ones that face piracy made possible by Internet file-sharing, and the Fields weren’t the first to consider legal action. In 2003, the Recording Industry Association of America started suing thousands of people suspected of illegally sharing music, stopping only after piracy declined and legitimate sales rose. In a lawsuit in 2011, the production company Voltage Pictures accused about twenty-five thousand defendants of stealing its movie “The Hurt Locker”; after announcing that it had reached a series of settlements with accused thieves, it dropped the vast majority of cases."

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