Is Porn in Peril?

     Could pornography go the way of journalism?
     You’re probably thinking that’s an odd question, but I’ve been thinking a lot about journalism and the impact of the Internet lately and there may indeed be an eerie parallel.
     Or at least an amusing party game.
     Just substitute “pornography” for the word “journalism” or “pornographer” for “journalist” in any online discussion you run across. See what I mean?
     OK, maybe you don’t. I didn’t until I came across a really unexpected lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles by a guy who used to own subscription “adult entertainment” websites.
     He thinks he and others like him are losing millions of dollars because consumers of pornography can now go to “‘tube” websites and get the product for free.
     That’s right. It’s much like going onto the Internet and getting all the news you want for free while news organizations are going broke or laying off journalists in droves.
     And why is this lawsuit material?
     Well, the listed causes of action against a group of defendants who operate a website called RedTube are “below cost competition,” “loss leaders,” and “unfair competition.” All of those are violations of sections of California’s Business & Professions Code.
     The defendants allegedly profit from this anti-competitive activity by putting ads on the free porn site.
     Now switch your thinking to journalism and consider those causes of action against, say, The Huffington Post and Perez Hilton.
     According to the lawsuit, “redtube.com is currently number 45 on the list of most trafficked websites in the U.S., just below sites such as LinkedIn.com, Fox News Channel and Adobe.”
     So there’s a lot at stake. Men and women who have spent a lifetime honing their ability to have sex could be out of work.
     Back to our game: substitute the appropriate word in the now-trendy phrase, “citizen journalist.”
     Do we really want to get our pornography from just anyone with a bedroom or couch and a video camera? Can they be trusted with this kind of responsibility?
     Or how about “collaborative journalism?”
     I’m not sure I’m ready for that.
     
     MAKING A SPLASH. As fascinating as the pornography complaint was, it wasn’t my favorite lawsuit of the week in Los Angeles.
     The one I really enjoyed was a filing on behalf of Splash Dogs, LLC and an employee against Dock Dogs, Inc. – for defamation.
     It seems the companies are competitors in the production of “dock jumping events, which involve dogs jumping from a platform into a swimming pool.”
     Yes, there’s competition in this field.
     It seems that the plaintiff appeared in a Dominos Pizza commercial as a “dock jump announcer.”
     Then one of the defendants said on a website that “Heck they brought in a Tony to be a mach (sic) announcer….”
     How was this defamatory?
     Said the suit: “Defendants deliberately intended to convey the impression that plaintiff, Tony Reed was not a real dock announcer.”
     Imagine the insult.
     The damages phase of this case ought to fascinating.

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