Plot: The world of pornography has always been a profitable one, but the industry’s move to the internet took porn to a new level, as people could watch in total privacy and have access to limitless content. This meant a rise in profits and increase in content that was created, but it also opened some doors that would damage the industry, mainly tube sites and rampant piracy concerns. The tube sites collect clips and videos from all kinds of sources, offer massive amounts of the content to users for free, then earn income from the traffic, ads, and partnerships. This led to unprecedented viewership and traffic, but little, if any of the revenue would return to the content creators. In Pornocracy, we’re taken inside the business aspect of online porn, the tube sites that dominate the scene, and a shadowy corporation that not only owns a near monopoly of the industry, but controls most of it doesn’t outright own.
Entertainment Value: While most people will often defend the ownership rights of movies, music, and other artistic creations, porn has few defenders and most people just accept that piracy is the norm. This documentary show us the devastating impact tube sites and piracy have inflicted on the porn business, from loss of profits and creative freedom to an oversaturation that has led to a constant push for more extreme content and an endless carousel of talent turnover. I assume most people are aware of tube sites and that piracy is a massive issue for porn producers, but Pornocracy shows us first hand some of the casualties involved. The founder of one of the biggest tube sites tells us directly that he knew the damage his site would create, as well as the ruthless tactics he employed against producers who refused to agree to his demands. This impacted not only the larger production companies, some of whom closed in the wake of the shift, but countless boutique and amateur run offices.
As the documentary explores how tube sites impacted the porn business, things lead into a larger concern, as the movie lays out the story of how one mysterious corporation was able to seize control of almost the entire online porn network. I was aware that some of the bigger companies were tied together, but I had no idea that one corporation had such a massive stake in online porn. The movie traces the company back to its early reaches into the business, the growth plan, and how it seized such a strangehold on online porn, and the impact of that process. This includes a look at how despite countless millions and millions of dollars that flow in, minimal taxes are paid out and how money is shuffled between companies in suspicious ways. If you’re familiar with food cartels like Monsanto, then you can grasp the kind of control Mindgeek holds over the internet porn world. The movie never feels like an indictment of porn in the least, just a look at the darker side of the business aspect and the negative trends that are being seen in the industry. If you appreciate good documentaries or want to learn more about the online porn business, Pornocracy is well recommended.