Consumer protection was virtually absent from porn until the rise of the internet and such newsgroups as rec.arts.movies.erotica.
Due to the stigma associated with porn, consumers will rarely complain about disappointing purchases. As porn becomes increasingly accepted, and de-stigmatized, consumer protection, as well as protection for workers in the industry, increases.
Because hardcore is illegal in Britain, consumer protection is sorely lacking, writes Laurence O'Toole in his 1998 book Pornocopia. He describes the people who work in the illegal sex shops in the Soho district of London. Laurence says the people behind the sex counters are rarely the owners, leaseholders or an important part of the business. "According to the police, and judging by behavior, few, if any, are new to a life of crime. People involved in the porn industry [in Britain] at the distribution end tend to be old or young lags, who see police pressure, court action and the like as an occupational hazard, and the maintenance of proper trading standards as the headache of the legal retailer. Buying hard core in Soho is a mostly dispiriting experience. Entering a typical sex shop is like going back in time, like going into a dirty video shop twenty-five years ago. Soho's sex shops have entirely missed out on the stylised makeover of retailing. It's as though the shopping revolution of the eighties never happened. The shops are so low-maintenance, because they're so fly-by-night. Most of the men working the stores in Soho aren't interested: "Porn, can't stand the stuff, mate,' 'What d'you say it's name was again, Deep Goat?' They don't care; they're passing through, and, most of them, they rip you off. Pre-sale, they promise you everything, promise you the world, any kind of video you like. 'John Leslie's Chameleons? Yeah, we've got that, but not here, give me ten minutes will you.' They then disappear for a while, off to collect the ordered materials from their 'stash,' returning with the videotape, the requested film's initials written on the spine (CM, for Chameleons). You pay up, you take it home, it's not Chameleons, it's complete rubbish. And, when you return and ask for some kind of fair treatment, they get very nasty, almost instantly. It's hard to fathom the attitude. There's seemingly no need for it, but still they do it. And then again, if they're likely to be shut down at any minute, to be arrested, why would they bother about treating the customer well. …here today, gone tomorrow. It's rare to see the same man fronting the shop twice running. Someone's always standing in for a friend, doing a favour for a mate who's sick today, but he'll be in tomorrow. This is Soho; it's the way Sin Central breeds dishonesty.
"…Plainly the present laws in Britain are beneficial to what is practically a cartel. The British porn situation is a perfectly tight and cosy set-up for those inside the loop, suiting the police, distributors and publishers.
"…Any new company that ventures along and wishes to start up in competition will not only struggle to get a good distribution deal but may also suffer more than its hsare of legal harassment."
A porn fan writes to Luke F-rd:
As an outsider it seems to me that the porn business is run incredibly poorly from a business standpoint, a PR standpoint, a customer relations standpoint and from a talent standpoint. It sometimes makes me want to toss in my mantle of respectability and become a pornographer. I mean think about it -- where or how else on earth could a schlep like Ed Powers get rich and screw reasonably good looking women. Why does he use Jake Steed so much though now? It seems like the really good looking women screw Jake and the rest do Ed. The only reason to watch Ed Powers is to see a pathetic looking guy f--- beautiful women, otherwise his tapes might be used to prop up a broken couch and for no other reason.
From a consumers perspective, there are two major problems with porn (and dozens of minor one) -- zero creativity -- and the same boring, dull, bland guys over and over. As for creativity, once and a while some one comes up with something new -- Stagliano did, Max Hardcore did, even Ed Powers did -- but once they hit on something they just pump out the same formulaic crap over and over and over. I have no desire to see Dirty Debutantes 85 or whatever the hell its up to now. Same goes for Max World volume 25… unless he manages to start luring Vivid quality girls to his bizarre world in which case I would devote my entire life to watching Max stovepiping Janine.
NONE of the guys in the directorial side of the business seem to care a rats ass about what the fans want… I want to see Jenna Loves Rocco -- the Max Hardcore edition. Anything less than that I can see at home in my own mirror. 95 percent of the scenes are dull and lifeless and the "studs" are duds, I think because half of them are closet homosexuals or something -- Marc Wallace, Peter North and Eric Adams all have done homo stuff which to me should eliminate them from boy girl stuff, not because of AIDS but because any guy who would do another guy on camera is simply not aggressive enough to be a good porn stud.
I have a theory -- any porn stud that the women actually like (not who they find attractive but who they like -- e.g., oh he's nice) should be automatically disqualified from working in porn -- and Tom Byron would have to be at the top of the list -- seems like a "nice" guy, buts that's the problem -- for the porn starlets its like f---ing their friend or step brother -- no tension and no anxiety which is part of what makes real life sex exciting. About the only guys I would retain are TT Boy who occasionally throws a good f--- and of course my man Rocco, maybe Alex Sanders if he hasn't worked with a woman before, and lastly Max. By the end of a sex scene, I want it to look like a war has taken place -- sweaty, exhausted, panting, drained, sated and almost defeated(both the guy and the girl.) I'm almost afraid to go to a porn convention because there are so many guys who have done SO many SHITTY scenes I feel like they have literally ripped me off by shooting two droplets of cum on Jenna's chin, or doing a half cock in three thrust anal with Asia Carerra. If I were directing I would say -- f--- that bitch in her ass until she absolutely demands and screams for you to stop and then I'll yell cut. Asia Carerra is a whole story onto herself. Beautiful, smart and deluded into thinking
I care about her computer prowess or acting ability. I DONT give a shit if she is even literate -- I want to see a huge cock going up her cute Asian ass and a big load(five or six healthy dolops) spraying across her face. Other than that, I don't care what she likes, knows, feels etc. She's not my wife or girlfriend, who gives a shit what she thinks -- shut up and suck bitch.
I know you are a more sensitive type than me Luke and I probably sound irate (which I am), but to me porn is not about beauty, romance, sensitivity or story lines. Its about this equation: The more beautiful the woman (and personally I love silicone Goddesses like Jenna, Olivia and Crystal Gold -- cute little 19 year olds with little tits I can pick up in Central Park or Greenwich Village on any spring day -- but huge titted, sex bombshells, I can't), plus the nastier, more physical, aggressive and occasionally kinky or depraved the sex (although even for me Max and his speculems are overboard) equals the more entertaining movie.
Success = beautiful women + really nasty sex (not disgusting sex like Max -- rough and nasty sex like Rocco). Why aren't there dozens of Rocco type guys in porn as far as attitude and aggression?
John T Bone would have had it right with Jasmine, Angel Hart and your friend Shyla Foxxx if he ever hired some guys who knew how to f--- them right. Lastly, fan club f---s were a great idea, but the two I saw, IMHO, SUCKED!! I saw Nici Sterling's fan club prowl in which the only guys who looked like real fans did nothing more than beat off and I saw XXX in what to me seems like cold, distant, let me get this over with escort sex. Another great idea shot to shit. If some really good looking porn starlet were smart and not looking just to scam everyone (Jasmine) she would do a cross country dance tour and pick guys she has NEVER seen before to f--- on tape in any way he desires -- she could do like twenty of those a year, promote the hell out of it on the Net and while touring and create a genuine sensation . I know, all these women are deluded into thinking they are entertainers not hookers (even the ones who do escort work -- HA!).
Subj: Prager-L: What do y'all do with rentals?
Date: 98-05-07 12:20:49 EDT
From: email@example.com (David)
The internet newsgroup "rec.arts.movies.erotica" is devoted to discussing current news, trends, and issues pertaining to the adult video industry. Recently, a subject has come up that involves ethics, morals, and the law. Since the latter is an area in which Prager listeners are well informed in, I've decided to bring the discussion into this list in order to get input from the many knowledgeable and wise people here. Your input on this matter will be greatly appreciated since it seems to have many in the newsgroup in disagreement.
The subject causing confusion is the legality, ethics, and morality of copying videos that you rent, but not buy. Although video duplication is done with movies of all types, it is particularly commonplace with adult movies. Some argue that this is perfectly legal so long as you do not sell copies of the the tape or have it available for public viewing. Others, however, contend that unless you buy the tape, making any copies, even if it's just for personal use, is both immoral and illegal.
Below, I've posted some opinions from the people in the newsgroup regarding this subject.
STEVEBLUZ (the starter of the thread):
After several years of renting over 500 videos, I finally got over my laziness and hooked up my 2 vcrs. One plays, one records. This is much easier than you think. If you have 2 VCR's and cable hooked up throught your home, which many do, this is very simple...you need only to run the existing cable hookup from VCR to VCR.
Anyway, my point is what is the legality of this? The copied tapes are of course for my own personal consumption, but are there any laws or guidelines governing this activity?
Mike South (well-known porn producer):
It is legal as long as it is for your own personal use, you run into problems if you trade or sell it or show it publicly.
Mike's interpretation is wrong, and as a purveyor of filth, I find his stance curious. Mike would rather have you copy your rented copy of "Mike South's Hot F*ckers #27" (not legal) instead of purchasing one of his (legal, and finally beneficial to him)? Curious.
It seems to me that what you are after is a copy of the tape for use in your home; cassettes are sold for those purposes. Rentals do not transfer the "right to backup" to you (they stay with the video store, brad) so basically, you are paying for the right to borrow the tape and watch it.
I am tempted to not care when it is with adult movies because I do not want these guys to make more money.
Then again, everything you do affects you. So, duplicating adult movies is probably morally backward, and will hence affect other behaviors. One sin leads to another, as one good deed leads to another. Big doors swing on small hinges.
Some very small deeds precipitated my choice of writing on my subject area and these small deeds will shape the rest of my life.
On the other hand, you can drive yourself crazy with these issues. Probably it is best to hold that the ideal is not to not duplicate, to minimize the amount of duplicating, particularly when the person/company you may be ripping off, is an esteemable one. Or make it up to the person.
For instance, I duplicated sections of many Prager essays on my site www.dennisprager.net. On the other hand, by so doing, I have brought him hundreds and probably thousands of dollars worth of business.
In the final analysis, I would probably go with whatever my rav [halakhic authority] ruled.
You can do what you are doing legally. The piracy issue comes into play if you do anything involving those copies besides personal consumption, like selling them or charging an "admission fee" to view it.
S. Andrew Roberts:
What you are doing is called video piracy. More properly termed as a copyright violation. The copies that you make are illegal. You are breaking a federal law and might end up in a federal prison for up to 10 years if you are ever caught.
But consider one final thing: For many years (and in some cases, still today) the cost of a "licensed" copy of a movie can be as high as $90. (I know this because I a store in my area, puts the price they had to pay for a movie [adult or otherwise] on the box, so you are forewarned of the charge you face should the movie be lost/destroyed).
Yet, movies that production companies know will sell high, will only "cost" $15-$25. Now, who's stealing....
If duplicating rentals for personal use is a felony, with my personal collection of gay porno spilling out in the hallways of my apartment building, I'm in big trouble.
It seems like legally if you use the tapes only for personal use, you're not breaking the law. But morally the question is are you taking away profit to the industry. I pay for the rentals, so I can certainly say I paid for the pleasure. Sure the industry would make more bucks if I bought the tape, but it's not like they didn't get their fair share (and a good gay new release is gonna run about 50-60 bucks). The question is whether I paid for the instant or the life of the tape when I rented.
He's copying from rentals. That's NOT legal, because he doesn't own the original.
I am not a lawyer but I have followed copyright law since 1972. I've been an artist, a commercial illustrator and now professionally manage web sites. I wish I could say that all private copying of anything were legal but I don't think this is the case. If anyone has more specific information than I provide below, please post it.
Brad has suggested that there is no federal "law that makes copying of a rental tape illegal." He is right that there is no law this specific, its the general copyright law which covers all kinds of creative works.
Lots of people are making issues of "home" or "private" or "non commercial" copying. Though apparently "private" copying is a legal concept in some European countries it is not a concept that is recognized in U.S. law. It is my understanding that the only explicit exception to copyright is for non commercial home audio taping of copyrighted sound recordings, which is recognized in the 1992, Audio Home Recording Act.
The general concept that provides for exceptions to copyright protection is "fair use".
There's another issue closely related to this currently being discussed in the halls of our beloved Congress. The proposition is to allow broadcasters and cablecasters the ability to encode their signal so that it cannot be recorded to video. This would mean no more watching the NHL playoffs and recording the Seinfeld finale. It all comes from the same issue being discussed here...who owns the rights to the product and how can those rights be protected.
This is currently being tossed around by the National Association of Broadcasters and through the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Communications, as well as the House Commerce subcommittee. Although I work in the television industry and know that copywritten material deserves to be protected, I don't believe that there are bad guys out there making multitudes of illegal copies of the Super Bowl...and even if there were this is a bass-ackwards way of dealing with it. As with all bullshit legislation it dies a quick death when consumers stand up and demand some sanity. Please make your feelings known to your elected leaders.
The courts have ruled that recording broadcast television for later personal use is legal. The warning the NFL gives during their games is clear: "Any COMMERCIAL use or rebroadcast of this transmission w/o the express written consent of the NFL is prohibited" I have no idea whether this same ruling applies to copying rented tapes, but I would guess not.
Dick Hertz posted to RAME about porn:
A long time ago, Woody Allen said (approximately),"There are three major things wrong with pornographic movies: they're immoral, they're degrading, and the lighting is terrible!" I can't do anything about the first two, but I'm really getting tired of the crap being put out today, and I want to let the vendors know what I like and what I don't.
For example: Unless I see a babe on the box that I just can't resist, I've rented my last Max Steiner movie. Why? Because the man doesn't know the first thing about making a porno movie.
I mean that literally. While he may know the second through fiftieth thing about making porno, and he somehow gets sexy girls to do incredibly nasty things, he doesn't know the FIRST thing about porno, which is, IN A PORNO MOVIE, THE WOMEN ARE SUPPOSED TO BE NAKED! You want to tease for a while, fine. You want to do some warm-up action while they still have some clothes on, OK. But when you get down to the serious stuff, LOSE THE CLOTHES. I just rented one (I think it was The Harder They Fall 5) with three scenes---the first two girls were really beautiful, like Private girls, and the third was Asian, and I love Asians. But even though the first and third appeared to have very nice natural boobs, I only got a glimpse of them because neither of the women removed a stitch of clothing throughout their entire scenes!
The only possible justification for leaving the clothes on is if it's essential to the plot, and the only possible justification for a plot in porno is if it's a couples movie, and somehow I don't see Max as a producer of couples movies. (Although this tape did have an (unintentionally) hilarious attempt at a plot, with Max fighting a ridiculously obvious fake snake!)
Other things that I hate in porno today:
1. Fake boobs
Producers, think about this for a minute. If you rent a tape called "Swedish Stewardesses", and the box guarantees an all-blond cast, but when you play it all the girls have obviously bleached hair, black roots, black eyebrows, black pubic hair, you aren't happy, right? If you rent a movie called "Teenage Schoolgirls" and the box guarantees an all teen-age cast, but when you play it all you see are older women with obvious face lifts and girdles, you aren't happy, right? So if you produce a tape called "Big Boob Bonanza" and all the women have obvious implants, what in the world makes you think we'll like it? I yield to no one in my admiration for big NATURAL boobs, but I'd much rather see a small-boobed girl in a hot scene than someone with gross scars, and boobs that look like grapefruits jutting straight up, stretching her skin so you can see the ribs coming off her sternum. Yuk!!
2. Bad Shave jobs
No, I don't especially like girls with body hair like Ed Asner. But I would much rather see pubic hair than a bunch of stubble, lumps, bumps, pimples, rashes, chancres, buboes, and other unsavory blemishes. I have been conditioned by 2 million years of evolution to find a nice triangular patch of pubic hair sexy, and a girl in panties is infinitely more sexy if you can see a hint of her pubes through the fabric. What I really hate is when I see Oriental girls (I love Asians) with shaved pussies, because nature has given them (well, many of them) the perfect pussy hair --- a sparse covering on the mound, very little on the lips. Just beautiful.
3. Stupid producer/directors
Read: Ed Powers. Someone sent this group a review of one of his movies where they chose, rather than bothering to describe the action, to just give him some very basic tips on how to not screw up a video, and they were right on target. Things like turn off the phone before you start shooting, set up the sound and lights before you start shooting, etc. I said above that Max didn't know the first thing about porno, well Ed doesn't know the first thing about photography. I've taken about three pictures in my life, but even I know YOU DON'T SHOOT WITH A BRIGHT LIGHT BEHIND THE SUBJECT! Evidently this bit of physics is beyond Ed, and occasionally Buttman, because they have had some otherwise good scenes ruined by putting a brightly sunlit window behind the action. But Ed is by far the worst...I can't believe anybody could be so cheap that he won't pay some guy minimum wage (hell, lots of guys would pay HIM) to hold the camera, instead of using a tripod. The last Ed Powers movie I rented (literally the last) had a beautiful Asian girl (I love Asians). She was apparently being cornholed by Ed while he repeatedly transferred his fingers from her pussy to her mouth. I say "apparently" because the camera was on a tripod, her face was in the middle of the frame, some furniture was in the right side of the frame, and HER PUSSY AND ASS WERE OFF-CAMERA ON THE LEFT!! YOU CHEAP BASTARD!!
Another thing I hate about Ed is he'll manage to do a decent cum-in-the-mouth shot, and then immediately demand that the girl spit it out. Christ, man, get your head out of your ass! We saw it go in her mouth, we don't need any further proof, we want to see her swallow it! The only thing I can figure is he does it for his still pictures, which is another annoyance to me---I don't want to see flashes and hear cameras snapping when I'm watching a video. You want to sell to magazines, do it on your own time, I paid to see a video! YOU CHEAP BASTARD!!
Other technical incompetence that permeates the industry:
· using a cheap camera so the color is weird and the focus is off
· zooming in so close that you can't see a thing (I recall a scene where a gorgeous girl was blowing a guy, the focus was sharp, the framing was perfect...and just when she opened wide to take his load, the moron on the camera zoomed in, completely losing the focus, and finally (3-4 seconds later) getting the focus back so we could see a giant closeup of her nose!
· having the sound so screwed up that the director's instructions are clearly audible and the woman's moans aren't
· using cheap tape (another reason I won't rent Max anymore ... maybe it's just bad luck, but his tapes always seem to have a lot of dropouts, and I find my VCR heads need cleaning soon after playing one of his tapes
4. Lockjawed facials
Call me crazy, but I always thought the idea of a facial was to get some cum in the mouth. If an actress doesn't want to do that, fine, but she better have an awful lot going for her otherwise. But when she says, "Ooh, come in my face, I want to taste it!" and then keeps her mouth clamped tightly shut when he does, she makes my shit list.
5. Extra women for no particular reason
I realize there are different tastes in the world, and not everybody likes the same things I like in a woman. However, when the name of the tape is "Buttman's Extremely Big Tit Adventure", I think it's reasonable to assume that people who rent it want to see women with big tits. Now I think John does a pretty good job with the camera (ignoring a few bright windows in the background), and has apparently managed to find the last few women in the world with NATURAL big tits, but then he always seems to feel that one-on-one isn't good enough, so he'll throw in another girl or two with very average looks and spend half the scene on them.
Rodney Moore did the same thing in one of his CDLF I recently rented - the only reason I got the tape (I generally like Rodney's action, but too many of his girls look anorexic) was because of a woman with huge natural breasts on the box, and her scene was ruined because he spent two thirds of the time with another girl or running around his house. Guys, listen! If a woman has huge natural knockers, one on one (or many on one) is just fine! You'll save money, we'll be happier, everybody wins!
Ahhh, I feel better now.
(I studied masturbation at the Sorbonne)
When I rented Booty Duty 2 and found that it was missing a scene due to a mistake in the duplication process, I took the tape back to the store and told the manager that the tape was messed up. I told him that if they keep renting it or sell it people are going to complain. This store manager knows me because I come in that store so much but he didn't offer to refund my money, let me rent another tape at a discount, etc. He didn't even bother to watch the tape to see what I was talking about. He even put the tape back on the shelve for someone else to rent or buy while I was still there. He obviously doesn't give a rat's ass about whether his customers are ripped off or not.
I live in a large city with over 10 porno stores plus numerous mom and pop stores that rent/sell porn. Unfortunately none of them give a f--- about the customer or even know anything about the product they sell. I know more about porn that anybody that works in any of the porn shops around where I live.
Mike Ross published the following in AVN:
Two postage stamps, two envelopes, a website link, a phone call and a lean, green, George Washington.
Since I started lobbying for you a year and a half ago, it has been suggested to me by several members of the community, that I use this column to make money, rather than to ìorganize and coach you through the legislative system.
What makes this suggestion tempting, yet difficult, is that I know this magazine is designed for, and read by, true Adult Entertainment aficionados and the business people who must be involved in both purchasing and selling new product and following political trends and activities because their constitutional and economic interests are on the line.
And even though I am a life long Republican and capitalist (I am just one small step away from being a Libertarian), I have been very hesitant to even ask for a postage stamp from anyone other than those whom I am now being sponsored by, simply because I don't want to upset anyone and I need to report everything that is considered as income, not just with the IRS, but more importantly, with The Secretary of Statesí Office, the official organization that oversees the actions of registered lobbyists and their political activities.
After raking my brain for what seems like months, weeks, days and yes, hours at a time to figure out how I can capitalize on the exposure I receive from this column, I have finally figured out how to make money with this space and want to warn you that I am going to start my sales pitch right now, so get ready....
Oops I forgot something... before I make the pitch, I want you to know exactly what I am going
to ask for and how it will be used... Ready?
Ex-Beatle John Lennon once wrote a song entitled ìImagine,î remember it? Well with that song
playing in the background, I want you to ìimagineî what would happen if everyone who makes
money off this industry or reads this magazine/column, participated in this ìfund-raiser.î
What I need from you is simple and outright cheap... so cheap in fact, that one of those man-made, tweed, polyester leisure suits from the ë70s looks expensive. I need: two postage stamps, two envelopes, one website link, one long distance call, three local calls, a webiste link and one thin, green, legal George Washington.
That's right, you can now support your rights to free speech for as low as Georgeís smiling face and 10 or 15 minutes of your time. Well, actually its not just a dollar, it's a dollar, a couple of phone calls, a webiste link and 2 pre-stamped envelopes.
And what will I do with the money?
That is simple... I will donate it to whomever you designate. If I had my choice, as a lobbyist, I would contribute it towards the creation of an industry Political Action Committee (P.A.C.), whose goal is simple....to project your voice into the legislative process and thus defend and protect your 1st Amendment rights.
And can I do that with just a buck?
Well, we all know the answer to that, donít we? The answer is, you get what you pay for.
And where, as a porn fan, do I suggest that it go if it is not donated to a P.A.C.?
I don't exactly know, because it depends on who you designate it to. But I do have four outstanding ideas and causes in mind....
First, we can help provide the Free Speech Coalition with a campaign war chest, that can be used to fight for your rights, something that is desperately needed;
Second, we could use the money to help fund a variety of 1st Amendment education projects ranging from the initial operations of the P.A.C. to the posting of the Adult Entertainment
Third (and I'll seem greedy with this one), it could be used to pay for my salary, office and organizing expenses;
Finally, the money could be used to help organize consumers and fans in an effort to help defeat legislation that affects both your business and their rights as consumer to sell/purchase adult products in the United States.
And which one will I choose?
I won't. You will. When you send your dollar to me at 1808 Sherwood Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95822, (using one postage stamp, envelope and the dollar), it will be placed in the fund of your choice.
Want the money to go to an entity that really needs it, the Free Speech Coalition? Designate it.
Want money for the PAC.... Designate it...
Want the money to go to fighting/supporting bills - designate it
Want the money to go into a rape crises center - designate it
Get the hint?
As we all know, Freedom is a great concept and supported by our culture thanks to the U.S. Constitution and itsí partner, the Bill of Rights. But unfortunately, Freedom isn't free, its a right we have to continually fight long and hard for, and those fights cost time, effort and money. As a result, we all have to work hard at it (as a team), which means that if you can't, won't, or don't donate two postage stamps, two envelopes, a website link, make a couple of phone calls and donate one lousy George Washington to help protect your rights.... well, your simply fooling yourself about how important your constitutional rights actually are.