MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Hollywood is finally embracing peer-to-peer technology after years of fighting. Warner Brothers has struck a deal with file sharing network Bit-torrent that would allow customers to swap movies legally for a price. The adult entertainment industry has embraced peer-to-peer technology for years.
And as Laura Sydell reports, they are about to take another step ahead of Hollywood.
LAURA SYDELL: The internet is filled with adult entertainment, inspiring this observation from the Tony Award winning musical AVENUE Q.
Unidentified Female #1: The internet is really, really great.
Unidentified Male #1: For porn.
NORRIS: I got a fast connection so I don't have to wait.
Male #1: For porn.
SYDELL: There's so much of it that adult entertainment companies really have to work hard to get their sites to stand out. That's why Vivid Entertainment, one of the largest producers of adult entertainment in the U.S., will let its customers burn DVDs of its content right off the web. It's about making it easy for the customer, says Vivid's co-chair Bill Asher.
BILL ASHER: Whether you're running a restaurant or your selling adult content, the experience needs to be as enjoyable as possible. And if you want them to come back and frequent your restaurant or your adult site, you need to make that an easy, enjoyable experience.
SYDELL: With the new technology, customers can go to Cinema Now, an online movie distribution site, download and adult movie, then burn a copy protected DVD. Customers will not be able to burn Hollywood features, which can only be watched through a computer because major movie studios are not satisfied with the Cinema Now piracy protections. But that doesn't worry Asher, who thinks that piracy just lets more potential customers get a glimpse of his product.
ASHER: Certainly, you lose some small amount of sales, but it also gives people exposure to your product. And if you feel that your product is a good product and that people, once they see it, are going to want more of it and they're going to end up buying more of it. so for us, it's actually been a boon.
SYDELL: Pornographers usually are on the cutting edge when it comes to technology, going back a long way.
PAUL SAFFO: What did we do after we invented the printing press and printed the Bible. We produced cheap thrillers, how-to books and pornography.
SYDELL: Paul Saffo, associate professor at the engineering school at Stanford University, researches trends and technology.
SAFFO: The movie industry soon after filmed THE GREAT TRAIN ROBERRY and movies started appearing. Well, one of the earliest special effects was the keyhole shaped mask. So you could create a movie that had the appearance of peeping through a keyhole.
SYDELL: A little more recently there was the VCR. Adult entertainment companies were making money hand over fist on VHS movies, while Hollywood was a little more prudish, afraid the consumers would make copies of their movies and stop paying.
SAFFO: It fought the video recorder to the death in the 1970s and '80s, only to discover after they lost that videotapes were a huge new revenue street for them.
SYDELL: Ultimately Saffo is certain the Hollywood studios will follow along and allow their customers to download movies and burn them to DVDs. Josh Bernoff, an analyst with Forrester Research, says mainstream movie studios have to be more cautious about new technologies. They invest more in each product. So adult entertainment companies make a lot more movies.
JOSH BERNOFF: There's infinite supply and there's infinite demand. People are always looking for something new. And as a result of that, the availability of some stuff, whether it's posted on a file sharing site or somebody emailed it to you, isn't likely to make a significant change in the demand.
SYDELL: While the pornography companies are doing it first, Hollywood insiders say their industry will likely follow within the year. The key is going to be new high definition discs, which have much better copy protection than current DVDs. But for now, those interested in a little experimentation can try burning DEBBIE DOES DALLAS: THE REVENGE.
Laura Sydell, NPR News.
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