A recent story (yes, it’s safe for work, home, etc) highlights what is apparently a problem for online p0rn* retailers: Their “product” is a bundle of ones and zeroes, and other parties (such as search engines) often make the same “product” available for free. Thus, the law.com story notes:
A Web site that sells photos of naked women is suing Google Inc., alleging that the online search engine leader is destroying its business by distributing links and passwords that provide free glimpses of the nude models.
Whatever the legal rules here — I don’t know the legal aspects of the case, but it sounds like it may favor the p0rn merchants — I have no sympathy whatsoever for these peddlers of smut. P0rn merchants have exploited the internet for years, using it to bring in income off of the bodies of vulnerable young women (and men) and the weaknesses and addictions of vulnerable men (and women). Their market is now under attack, and I don’t feel sorry for them.
However, I’m wondering in this post about the net spiritual consequences of this development. After all, it seems to have both positive and negative potential consequences. On the positive side, it shows that it is more difficult to make a living as a p0rn peddler. If this line of business becomes less lucrative, then people will leave it. On the negative side, this is dissemination of free p0rn in place of paid p0rn. And there are at least some people for whom the monthly fees might be the only deterrent keeping them from looking at the stuff in the first place.
Thus, this potentially leads to a world with (1) fewer p0rn peddlers — a good thing — and therefore (potentially) less p0rn and fewer users, but also where (2) some of the p0rn which is now locked up as private property (and shown only to those who pay) will be bandied about for free, thus making more available p0rn and potentially increasing the user pool, as well as the amount of stuff available to any one user.
So is that a net gain, a net loss, or a wash? I’m not sure.
*Note: I use the zero because this is a term that I really don’t want to be attracting people off of search engines. If I use the real term, then someone googling for that kind of material might find this site. I recognize that there might be lost missionary opportunities, but I think that the majority of people who might find the site while expecting some nudie pictures would either just go away or, worse, post a profane tirade of some sort. And I really don’t want that. Hence the zeroes.