One of the biggest issues facing the adult industry is piracy. In the days of VHS and DVD, file sharing between fans meant burning a copy and hand-walking it over to your buddies. I had an old college friend tell me she was given an untitled disc from a pal of hers who said “this is the hottest porn I’ve ever seen — you have to watch it!”. She popped it in her computer and found it was “The Crash Pad“. (And amusingly found out I was doing porn.) While it was a funny story, I was disappointed her friend didn’t think about buying her the DVD as a gift, instead of burning the copy.

Fast-forward six years later and very few of us watch films on DVD anymore. We now can stream videos online and download them directly to our hard drives. File sharing is easier than ever and it only takes a minute to find a free version of virtually any movie you’re looking to watch. (And in many cases, a free film is more accessible if the payment method is one you don’t have access to, or you want to watch it immediately it’s only available to be shipped DVD.) At this moment, thousands upon thousands of torrent and tube sites provide access to free porn, capitalizing on visitor traffic, advertisements and making money off of content they didn’t produce.

Piracy has severely hurt adult businesses, only a few of whom can afford to fight back through lawsuits and propose new online sale tactics. Studios send “Cease and Desist” letters to each and every site discovered; it’s a time-consuming process that puts the companies at as much risk for virus attacks as it does consumers. Some companies have banded together, as the concern has many producers committed to finding a way to stop porn piracy by 2012. Others have made efforts to educate consumers, who may not realize they are doing anything illegal. Here’s a campaign created by the Free Speech Coalition, directed by Michael Whiteacre and produced by Joanne Cachapero. While it appears to be an upstream battle with more dislikes than likes and over 500 negative, insulting comments about the stars (who include my friends Sinnamon Love, Kimberly Kane and Joanna Angel), the video it is a valiant effort.

In addition to my day job, I also work behind the scenes with Shine Louise Houston and her website CrashPadSeries.com. I’m someone who personally values Shine’s work and is passionate about the success of progressive and especially queer and indie pornographers who I think bring sex-positivity, education, and visibility to our marginalized experiences. So it is difficult for me to see my own community furthering piracy of porn that was made for them. If you search “Crash Pad Series” in almost all cases, you’ll see a torrent site. If you search “Jiz Lee”, you’ll also see results to pirated porn (with insulting descriptions, no less). The people who click and watch these links are NOT supporting me. Furthermore, it makes me feel exploited, something I’ve yet to feel in any of the work I’ve done. As I’ve said online numerous times: the only time I’ve felt exploited in porn, is through piracy. Ironically, I think it’s something done by fans who don’t know any better.

I’ve seen fans publish tumblr posts with links to clips on pirated sites. I’ve contacted some, and they apologize and take it down, stating that they didn’t know. I believe them. It can be confusing with so much porn out there. Some people may not feel like sharing the content is doing harm. In fact some people may think they’re doing a favor! I’ve even seen a customer of queer porn post the login password to their subscription via their public twitter account. Whoops! That’s a big no-no and is specifically listed in the terms of service of all membership websites. One free porn clip I saw of a scene of mine had over 76,000 views. Imagine how much money the company could have made if all the people who watched for free had chosen to purchase the scene online or to buy that DVD directly from the company.

I would LOVE Shine Louise Houston to be able to make and cast me in another feature film (her last one, CHAMPION: Love Hurts, was phenomenal and won Feminist Porn’s “Movie of the Year” as well as an AVN Nomination for “Best Video Feature”!) I would love for her to be able to shoot for Crash Pad Series more than once a month — imagine how many queer performers, videographers, photographers, and video editors she could hire if she shot as much as once a week! Shine’s company, like many small producers have slowly grown over the last few years, working on sustainable business models within a niche genre of the industry. We’ve had to grow our own market of consumers, many of whom are turned onto porn for the first time when they see that there are performers they can relate to.

It’s understandable to not know that pirating porn is illegal. I hope this list of five ways the average consumer — and maybe some others involved in the industry — can work to educate one another and help our work blossom.

5 Ways YOU Can Fight Porn Piracy

1. Don’t repost or share links to free porn sites.
How do you know it’s pirated material? (Here’s a hint: if I’m in it, and you’re watching it for free, 99% of the time that means it was stolen!) And if it’s on a site called “FreePorn.com” or something like that, there’s a good chance it’s pirated. My friends and I are paid to perform, so it’s never just put online for free. Please value our work!

2. Educate others who link to free porn sites.
Be an advocate. A porn hero! If you see the link posted on Reddit, Tumblr, a blog, wherever… just send a simple message to the site owner or an @reply to your friend to let the person know what you think about porn piracy. Link to this post if you want. In most cases, they didn’t know better!

3. Keep User-generated Tube Sites User-based
Sometimes companies work with affiliates and post teaser clips to tube sites to attract potential customers. However a lot of pirated porn is uploaded to tube sites by people who are abusing the site’s Terms of Service. What to look for? If you recognize an adult performer or a company’s film but don’t see a company watermark, link or credit, it’s a good chance that user uploaded it illegally. Flag, Report, and Notify the tube site’s customer service to alert them.

4. Become an Affiliate
Send good links out to the web! You can support companies by sharing links to their sites through an affiliate programs. Join sex-positive companies like goodvibes.com (which produces a lot of the porn titles I’m in), hotmoviesforher.com, crashpadseries.com, queerporn.tv, enterbelladonna.com, joannaangel.com, buckangel.com, and many more. If you’re new to affiliate programs, scroll to the footer of websites and look for “affiliates”, “webmasters”, or “make money” and click to read more! Post on your websites about the porn you love and use these new links to send readers to purchases that will make everyone happy.

5. Buy porn!
The best way to support the porn you love is to purchase it. Many performers have personal websites where you can find links to their work. My site has a films page, websites page, and links page and a click from these pages will support my favorite companies. Buying porn from the performers and companies sites, and from those who sell their work, is the most direct way to support our growing industry. Put your money where your politics are!

Thank you for being a supporter, a fan, a friend, an ally and advocate. If you’re ever in doubt, ask me! You can comment here, or find my email address up in the sidebar. Together we can kick porn piracy out of our queer and sex-positive spaces.