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IP Without IP? A Study of the Online Adult Entertainment Industry

Kate Darling

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - MIT Media Laboratory; Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society

February 1, 2013

17 STAN. TECH. L. REV. 655 (2014)

Existing copyright policy is based largely on the utilitarian theory of incentivizing creative works. This study looks at content production incentives in the online adult entertainment industry. A recent trend of industry-specific studies tries to better understand the relationship between intellectual property (IP) and creation incentives in practice. This study makes a contribution to the literature by analyzing a major entertainment content industry where copyright protection has been considerably weakened in recent years. Because copyright infringement is widespread and prohibitively difficult to prevent, producers have been effectively unable to rely on the economic benefits that copyright is intended to provide.

Qualitative interviews with industry specialists and content producers support the hypothesis that copyright enforcement is not cost effective. As a result, many producers have developed alternative strategies to recoup their investment costs. Similar to the findings of other scholarly work on low-IP industries, this research finds a shift toward the production of experience goods. It also finds that some incentives to produce traditional content remain. The sustainability of providing convenience and experience goods while continuing content production relies partially on general, but also on industry-specific factors, such as consumer privacy preferences, consumption habits, low production costs, and high demand. While not all of these attributes translate to other industries, determining such factors and their limits brings us toward a better understanding of innovation mechanisms.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 63

Keywords: Intellectual Property, copyright, law & economics, innovation policy, adult entertainment, creative industries

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Date posted: January 10, 2013 ; Last revised: November 9, 2014

Suggested Citation

Darling, Kate, IP Without IP? A Study of the Online Adult Entertainment Industry (February 1, 2013). 17 STAN. TECH. L. REV. 655 (2014) . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2198934 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2198934

Contact Information

Kate Darling (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - MIT Media Laboratory ( email )
20 Ames St.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society ( email )
Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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