Stop Thief Column: Supporters vs. Fans

This article originally ran in the January 2013 issue of AVN magazine.

As the adult industry descends upon Las Vegas for the annual AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, it occurred to me there is a good chance I’ll encounter several “fans” who have been on the receiving end of a Takedown Piracy DMCA notice. These days some so-called fans see very little reason to actually financially support the performers and companies they are fans of.

This leads me to draw a distinction between “fans,” who may or may not pay for their entertainment, and “supporters”—those who understand this is a business and are willing to open their wallets to support
the things they love.

Up until recently, I didn’t think there was really any difference between being a “fan” of something and a “supporter” of that same thing. But piracy has a way of changing that. Piracy gives a way for individuals to stake their claim as a fan of something without ever financially supporting it; they even take money away from the very thing they claim to be supporting.

In adult entertainment, this is incredibly obvious. Take a trip through any adult file-sharing forum and you will encounter fans who created megathreads, some even entitled “shrines,” for their favorite performer. These threads contain screen captures and the names of every scene the performer has ever been in, along with one key addition—a link to download the scene for free. When other fans download the scene, the guy who uploaded it makes a little bit of money, but the performer they adore gets nothing. Even more, the studio that produced the scene makes nothing.

In any other walk of life this would be a crime and would be called stealing, but if it happens on the internet, it is called sharing.

It’s like when a car thief sells your stolen car for less than it’s worth—he’s simply sharing it with society. The fact he makes money off of it seems to be beside the point when it comes to internet pirates.

But are these guys fans? Do they really deserve to be called fans? While they can claim to be the biggest fans in the world, there seems to be no level of fandom necessitating payment for what they are consuming.

Throw out the freeloader justification of “try before you buy”—these guys have tried it; they loved it; it’s the best ever … yet … they still don’t want to pay for it. And in an internet echo chamber where like-minded individuals gather, there’s no negative stigma to profiteering from what they claim to be an ardent fan of. There is nothing for them to feel guilty about; no one is calling them a freeloader or questioning their fandom. In a den of thieves, who’s going to point the finger and yell “Thief!”?

Where is the accountability for these so-called fans? It’s non-existent. And even asking for it often puts the producer in a worse spot than the guy stealing from him. The anonymity of the internet can give rise to bullies, but there is also a real danger in the outright populism approach taken by bloggers and the media. On the internet, traffic is king and pays the bills, so when the thieves outnumber the victims in magnitudes of 100s, then bloggers and writers appeal to the masses. Talk about how cool it is to download free porn and get thousands of viewers nodding in agreement, but if you dare challenge the group-think, you’re shouted down and attacked.

This highlights the scary side of populism—the complete ignorance of the rights and views of the minority. When confronted about their actions, many of these fans will say they are in fact helping the performers by giving them publicity. But when I posed this reasoning to one adult performer, she dismissed it, stating: “I’m pretty sure I know how to get that kind of publicity on my own, thanks.”

Does uploading a girl’s scenes to piracy sites help launch her career? Well, let’s ask Kimberly Kole. If you don’t know who she is, then you might have proved uploading a performer’s scenes to piracy sites doesn’t help her career. You see, Kimberly Kole is featured (and by name no less) in the second most-watched video of all time on Yet despite one “fan’” helping her get nearly 50 million views over the course of three years, Kimberly has failed to supplant the most popular porn stars performing today. There doesn’t even appear to be an official Kimberly Kole website.

Another 50 million Pornhub views for Rucca Page didn’t put her into elite porn star status, and the closest thing I can find to an official website for her is her MySpace profile, which hasn’t had a single bit of activity for over two years. According to adult tube site, a video featuring Brooke Banner has over 1.2 billion views. That’s 50 percent more views than Justin Bieber’s “Baby” video on YouTube and about 300 million more views than the “Gangnam Style” video by Psy. Last time I checked, Brooke Banner isn’t on their level.

Believing it is a good thing if fans pirate/rip your website’s members area and share it with everyone on the internet is ignorant. No product in history has ever become more popular and profitable because people stopped buying it. The people sharing your members area on for-profit file-sharing sites aren’t your fans; they are exploiting you for their own financial gain and to satisfy their sense of entitlement.

Real fans wouldn’t do this. The real fans are the ones who realize producing a product costs money, and if the product isn’t making money, the producer will stop putting out new products. They realize if they want to see more Tanya Tate or Kelly Shibari scenes, they have to show producers they want more by voting with their pocketbooks.

There are plenty of those kinds of fans out there, and they should be rewarded and applauded. They should be put on a higher level than what qualifies you as merely a “fan” these days. The supporters are what make it all possible. By giving them credit and thanks, you might just entice some fans to step up to the next level.

Takedown Piracy is an anti-piracy service started in 2009 by Nate Glass, a 13-year veteran of the adult industry. TDP offers copyright holders an affordable and effective means to fight back against content thieves. To date TDP has removed over 1.6 million content infringements, and it closely monitors 200 piracy websites. For details, visit