Pornography: Hot And Bothered

They don't get a lot of sympathy, but pornographers are ripped off, too, when Internet users swap pirated files. Every day millions of photos and video clips are stolen off for-pay porn sites and traded through Napster successors. Yet as music-business officials sing dirges about lost profits, pornographers see an opportunity. The buzz last week at Internext, the annual conference in Las Vegas for the $3 billion-a-year Internet porn industry, was about technology that could give rise to a new form of online marketing. The answer, says Playa Solutions founder Jason Tucker, is to encode every video or picture posted to a porn site. People who download and view the file would have to go to the original site or fork over a credit card to see what they want. This would encourage pornographers to push content into online circulation. "People are going to steal," Tucker told a seminar. "Stop fighting it. Encourage it." Gail Harris, chief executive of FalconFoto Inc., a company that supplies porn magazines with photos, likes the idea. "We're willing to give away a few images, and then if you're interested in more, we have a whole archive you can subscribe to," she says. Music honchos aren't as thrilled: giving away music won't generate the sales pirating proponents suggest. "The music business wants to shut this down," Tucker says. "But we in the porn industry know that the more you try to keep people from something, the more you encourage them to want to do it."