April 19, 2006

Such As It Ever Was [7:47 am]

Porn Industry Again at the Tech Forefront [pdf]

A top producer of hard-core porn will start selling downloadable movies that customers can burn to DVD and watch on their TVs, illustrating how Southern California’s multibillion-dollar adult entertainment industry may again set the technological pace for Hollywood.

Letting people burn downloaded movies is considered key to the growth of online distribution. Despite the proliferation of fast Internet connections, most people still want to watch movies on television but lack an easy way to get them off the computer. Plus, hard drives can store only so many space-hogging movies.

Hollywood has resisted burnable discs that can be watched on televisions because they fear piracy. It also doesn’t want to alienate retailers, which sell most of its DVDs. But if history is any guide, the online experiment by adult entertainment giant Vivid Entertainment Group will be watched closely by mainstream studio chiefs.

“The simple fact is porn is an early adopter of new media,” said Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto. “If you’re trying to get something established … you’re going to privately and secretly hope and pray that the porn industry likes your medium.”

[...] The Internet solves two of the porn industry’s biggest challenges: distribution and privacy. Wal-Mart and Blockbuster Inc. won’t sell porn. Nor do most customers relish the embarrassment of browsing in the back room of their local video store for porn.

“Those are the two reasons we’ll always be in the forefront,” Vivid Co-Chairman Bill Asher said. “We have to.”

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