A new documentary claims that a little-known company called MindGeek — headquartered in Luxembourg — is now porn’s most powerful player, holding a monopoly-like grip on the industry.
The documentary states that pornography has got “uglier and nastier”, with actors forced to shoot more hardcore films for less since the explosion of free-to-view internet sites like Youporn and Pornhub.
“Pornocracy”, made by Ovidie, a former French porn star turned director, claims that far fewer films are now being made and fees have been slashed up to 10-fold.
She blames “tube” sites — so-called because they resemble YouTube — which have been accused of hosting thousands of videos pirated from traditional adult entertainment companies.
Critics say children are also getting their first exposure to sex through the sites.
And they worry about the effect porn culture is having on the way teenage boys treat girls.
“Tubes” are also blamed for making porn consumption so commonplace that last week London’s transport system was forced to warn that people who watched porn on buses and trains would be reported to the police.
Children’s campaigner Marie Derain, an advisor to the French women and families minister, said the exploitive nature of “tube” sites was extremely worrying.
“Their economic model goes beyond even what is at stake in terms of pornography,” she stated.
Nearly all pirated
MindGeek, with its headquarters located on Boulevard Royal in Luxembourg City, prefers to be seen as a tech company, and makes no reference to porn on its website. It explained that it operates only four “tube” sites — Pornhub, Youporn, RedTube and Tube8.
“Claims that we dominate the industry are nonsense,” a spokeswoman said, saying that only three of its sites ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most visited adult sites.
Pornhub alone, however, is the 11th most viewed site in the US, just behind Wikipedia, Twitter and Instagram.
MindGeek says it is simply a platform for its “1,000 content partners that upload content and benefit from the exposure on our sites”.
“There is lot of misinformation about how tube sites function,” the spokeswoman said.
She said it followed YouTube’s lead on “managing the issue of copyrights”.
“There is no room in our model for the assumption that content is pirated,” she added.
She claimed instead that they had “formed positive, symbiotic relationships with most of the major players in the industry”.