vampire ghoul menaces sexy woman caught in his test tube flask

If you’ve been wondering what has gone wrong with the porn industry, there’s an interesting article in Slate that may help explain the current state of porn affairs. The article is called Vampire Porn and its social media share-line is “There is a porn monopoly, and its name is MindGeek.”

MindGeek is a porn provider. Or more accurately, the porn provider. MindGeek has become the porn monopoly, putting industry members in the paradoxical position of working for the very company that profits from the piracy of their work. The MindGeek hydra exerts so much force that people in the online-porn industry are scared to talk about it for fear of blacklisting. And MindGeek’s dominance should serve as a cautionary tale of the dangers of consolidating production and distribution in a single monopolistic owner.

Specifically, MindGeek owns a large number of porn aggregator “tube sites” (so named because they mimic YouTube’s format) such as Pornhub, YouPorn, and Redtube, which serve up huge amounts of free porn funded by ads. According to porn-industry blogger Mike South, MindGeek now owns eight of the top 10 of these aggregator sites (the exceptions being xHamster and Xvideos). These sites, whether owned by MindGeek or not, notoriously host a lot of pirated content. While each individual tube site responds to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests, most porn producers do not have the resources of movie studios or record labels to monitor piracy; according to adult film star Siri, MindGeek’s sites “force copyright holders to jump through hoops to get our content removed.” South told me that consequently, production of porn films is down 75 percent from where it was eight years ago, and DVD sales down 50 percent in that time. The general sentiment is that the porn business crash around 2008 was due to the rise of widescale piracy on tube sites and torrents, an increase in amateur porn, and the Great Recession.

All those tube sites (which I am hereby dubbing “vampire tubes”) make their money selling ads against the pirated content uploaded by “their users” — although there has been rumor and speculation for years in the adult industry that the big tubes hire shadowy employees to do most of the pirate uploading. Google, for reasons known only to itself, gives the vampire tubes top billing in its porn search results, while banishing most independent porn site operators to the impenetrable depths. Don’t believe me? Do a search for “prostate milking porn” on Google. It’s vampire tube results all the way down the front page:


I even scrolled through ten pages of Google results looking for a direct link to a porn site like Divine Bitches that actually makes prostate milking porn:

prostate-milking-porn from Divine Bitches

But did I actually find such a link in the first ten pages of the Google results? Let me cut the suspense: I did not. (However, you might. Google results differ with every refresh these days.)

Vampire porn is so profitable (bringing in porn surfers from Google, showing them free pirated porn, selling ads to advertisers desperate for that huge mass of horny eyeballs) that MindGeek has bought up a big chunk of the porn industry with the profits:

The crash in the porn business provided MindGeek with the opportunity to purchase high-profile porn content producers, including big names like Brazzers (in 2010) and Digital Playground (in 2012) at discounted rates, each of which themselves operate dozens of sites. Alongside names like Hustler and Vivid, MindGeek effectively came to control a huge amount of the mainstream “traditional” porn industry–the Hollywood-like production scene based in California’s San Fernando Valley, which has given us Jenna Jameson and Sasha Grey. As Adult Empire director of business development Colin Allerton told the Daily Dot, “every major studio and star is now partnered with MindGeek or has worked for a studio that MindGeek purchased.” Since then, industry workers have been in the difficult situation of seeing their work pirated on sites owned by the same company that pays them — imagine if Warner Brothers also owned the Pirate Bay.

Even content producers that MindGeek owns have trouble getting their movies off MindGeek’s tube sites. The result has been a vampiric ecosystem: MindGeek’s producers make porn films mostly for the sake of being uploaded on to MindGeek’s free tube sites, with lower returns for the producers but higher returns for MindGeek, which makes money off of the tube ads that does not go to anyone involved in the production side.

There is a sense in which all of this sort of works for the average porn surfer, if by “average porn surfer” you mean someone who is looking for a few short fapping clips. But in the longer run, you gotta pay for your porn if you want anything but generic (and mostly old) least-common-denominator stuff. How long can independent porn producers keep producing high-quality, innovative, artistic, and most importantly new porn, if it primarily appears for free on the vampire tubes and Google won’t even show the producer’s links to people who are looking for their stuff?

vampire ghouls sucking the life out of a sexy woman in a glass tube

Are you now, like Vladimir Lenin, wondering “what is to be done?” If so, all I can say is “Welcome to the club.” You’re not the only person wondering. The porn industry has been wrestling with this problem for years, and all that’s happened is that the vampire tubes have gotten bigger while everybody else in the ecosystem has gotten smaller and poorer.

One deus ex machina solution would be for Google to stop giving top billing to the vampire tubes for every porn search result. This is mentioned in the Salon piece:

As for the porn industry, will anyone survive? South said that vertical sites catering to specific fetishes such as are far more immune to MindGeek’s vampirism (“There are riches in niches,” he says), and South hopes that Google will eventually crack down on tube sites in general and derank them for mass piracy, shaking MindGeek’s lock on the industry.

Your breath, do not hold it.

tube vampires artwork credit: cover art for August 1970 edition of Witches Tales magazine

2019 update: I hope you’re not still holding your breath…

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