A Conversation About Online Piracy with the Guy Who Wants You to Pay for Porn
Spoiler alert: just like you should pay for your music, you should pay for your porn.
Nate Glass, flippin' off all the porno pirates. Photo by the author.
The porn industry and music industry have both been deeply affected by the rise of the internet. The proliferation of online piracy has created a situation in which consumers of both music and porn assume that what was once a product is now a right, and should be available for free and in abundant volumes. And, let's face it: listening to music for free and pounding off to pornog for free is great, because hey, free music and/or porn On the other hand, making an album or filming humans doing weird shit to each other's private parts costs money, and if they're not getting paid to create their art, then the quantity and quality of that art will dwindle.
That's where Nate Glass, Porn Hero, comes in. He doesn’t have sex on camera, but he is the guy who makes sure the people having sex on camera still get paid for it. Nate is the founder of Takedown Piracy, which according to its website, is "service offers copyright holders an affordable and highly effective means to fight back against content thieves." In other words, whenever you upload Aphex Twin's discography to what.cd or toss a copyrighted fuck-flick onto PornHub, Nate Glass is ready for you, and he WILL take you the goddamn hell down. Or, at least, he'll politely send you a takedown notice informing you that you're in violation of his client's copyright. Nate is an astoundingly nice guy. He is well-regarded in his industry, and his intelligence, charm, and laid-back demeanor make him a great advocate for porn in the mainstream.
Because you—yes, you—probably watch online porn and you probably watch it for free, Nate and I decided to have a conversation in which we compared and contrasted the issues that both music and porn face as a result of online piracy. Spoiler alert: just like you should pay for your music, you should pay for your porn.
Noisey: Explain the issues regarding porn and piracy at the moment?
Nate Glass: Right now we’re looking at a situation where people simply don’t feel they have to pay for the product. When you’re selling a product and the majority of your customer base doesn’t feel they have to pay for it, that’s a big problem. And it affects everything in terms of the budgets for the movies being slashed, less work for the performers, the studios have had to downsize, not only in how much stuff they put out but their internal staff—the guys that work in the warehouse, the authoring, the editing, and all of that has been slashed down. So people have had to be a lot leaner, people are wearing a lot more hats than they were before.
You want this hat?
No, I’m good.
But, you know, it’s a situation that we’re trying to correct. We’ve been around for about six years. We are pretty proud that our clients are still in business. So we think our clients, partially because of our work, but also because they’re smart and they know how to get multiple revenue streams, they’ve been able to kind of weather the storm. But we’re still looking at a situation where more and more customers just don’t feel that porn is something that they should have to pay for.
I see a lot of parallels between that and the music industry with the arrival of Napster, where this disruptive technology came out of nowhere and people don’t know how to react. A lot of labels are working with services like Spotify and Soundcloud and trying to create this third way where everybody gets paid, as opposed stealing or paying full price.
When I follow some artists, and even with Spotify, there’s a lot of criticism there as far as payout rates and everything. There’s no oversight. Nobody’s on top of it.
I follow David Lowery—he was the guy from Cracker—and he’s been one of the most outspoken musicians against that stuff. People will put their royalty statements up and they’re like, “My song was played 4.5 million times on Pandora or Spotify or whatever, and I got a check for $14.”
How is the porn industry making sure people get paid?
Well, first thing with porn, we’re considered less than.
Less than what?
Like less than…everything else. So, you have a hard enough time getting people to pay for music, but at least they have some level of kind of respect for it. But with porn, we’re treated even less than that. Like, we don’t even deserve to exist to some people, even though they might consume our product. There’s kind of like a generational stigma that we have to overcome there. But I think what adult has done, as they’ve always done on the internet: they’ve kind of led the way in finding different ways to have different revenue streams, different ways to process money online. You see more of the girls doing live webcamming type of events, things like that.
Nate in his trademark Porn Defender Stance™
I think one thing that the internet has done is it has given people the ability to not go through a large distribution company for porn or record label for music, and really own their own space.
It’s definitely kind of empowered, that do-it-yourself kind of model. You’ve just got to figure out a way to kind of monetize that to where it becomes a sustainable thing. It’s also really hard to compete. There’s a website called SqueezeMe, where for $0.99/day, you can watch all the HD porn you could possibly ever want to watch in a day and you don’t have to sign up for like a 30-day pass or anything like that. It’s like a three-day pass, three bucks and you can see porn. Even still, it’s hard to compete when the site right next to you on the internet is offering that same content in HD for zero cents a day. There are still issues with payments where people don’t want to put porn on their credit card. We can’t take PayPal, because PayPal doesn’t want to do business with us. So we still have issues where we have to be smarter about finding ways for people to pay for content. We have to find ways to get the content available in all these different countries because there are so many places where they can’t legally even buy the content even if they want to. So, there are still a lot of obstacles that the studios have to overcome.
So, SqueezeMe is sort of the Spotify of porn?
I guess. I think they were kind of going for a Netflix type of model because it’s all streaming video. But instead of being ten bucks a month or whatever for Netflix… they didn’t want to do like, “Well, it’s $30/month, you have to sign up for the whole month.” Their approach was, “It’s $0.99/day and you can sign up for as low as 3 days at a time.” And I’m pretty sure they even take Bitcoin, just like as a way to get around that whole paper trail and the your-significant-other-finding-out-you-watch porn issue. So there’s been some amazing little technological things come, but it’s just still so hard to compete with that mentality that people have of, “Who pays for porn? Porn’s free and the internet is for porn.”
That’s a meme.
It’s a whole meme!
To me, an artist’s music has shifted from product to marketing material. If you like the music, you’ll pay to see them live, and maybe buy some merch to show you’re a fan. Can that translate to porn?
In porn, stars do appearances. But it’s mostly strip clubs and stuff so it’s not like they’re going to be cutting the ribbon at the new Wal-Mart or anything like that.
It would be awesome!