Beneath the porn bailout snickers is an important lesson

So Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild’s Joe Francis want a $5 billion bailout from the U.S. Treasury. It’s a joke, right? Most of the stories I’ve read about this cite the economy as the justification, but there’s more here than meets the eye.

Whether you believe “adult entertainment” is a legitimate business or not, it is one of the most visible examples of disruption from what J.D. Lasica calls the “personal media revolution.” How so? The industry is seeing dramatic drops in revenue, because, well, anybody can make and distribute porn today. Moreover, video sharing technologies are being used to distribute copyrighted materials, and the nature of such content doesn’t lend itself to big lawsuits and public prosecutions. One doesn’t need to go through “the channels” to make it big in the adult video industry anymore, and this is the real problem that Flynt and Francis face.

In other words, the X-rated video industry is being gutted by the same technological disruptions that mainstream media companies are struggling with, only without the protection of the resources that, say, Viacom can throw at the problem.

By 2012, Nokia predicts, one-fourth of entertainment will be produced and consumed within peer groups, and we’re not talking porn. Pay attention everybody, for today’s “amateur” blue videos are paying for the schooling of tomorrow’s so-called legitimate personal media gurus.

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