A website called “Unicorn Booty” is hyperventilating over an e-mail that Corbin Fisher’s lawyer sent to someone claiming to be a concerned parent of a gay teen. It’s up to you if you want to take a website called “Unicorn Booty” seriously.
Here’s the e-mail from attorney Marc Randazza that they’re upset about. It’s in response to the suggestion that Corbin Fisher/Liberty Media’s lawsuits against illegal file sharers could “out” gay teens:
Perhaps you should check your facts. Liberty Media produces straight content too. So any thieving little shit who gets caught can very easily lie to his parents that he was looking at straight porn.
There’s a lot more over there on Unicorn Booty, including the accusation that Randazza isn’t being sympathetic to the fact that if just one gay teen is beaten or commits suicide after being “outed,” that’s one teen too many. The implication, that Corbin Fisher should leave all illegal downloaders alone because they might be closeted gay teens, is of course ludicrous. And the excuse, that closeted gay teens have no other avenue but to steal in order to explore their sexuality in private, is equally ridiculous. There’s plenty of free gay porn on the tube sites for closeted gay teens to “explore.” Also, if you’re savvy enough to figure out how to illegally download files, you’re also smart enough to know that you might get caught, and that your parents might find out about it. In short, being a closeted gay teen doesn’t give you the right to steal. Sorry.
Queerty has also weighed in, rightly pointing out that if a case goes to court, a teen’s claim that he was stealing straight porn (as Randazza has suggested they could do) wouldn’t fly as the file name and content would inevitably come out, thus revealing that it was in fact gay porn:
In serving any person with a copyright lawsuit, a plaintiff must explicitly state in court documents — all of which would almost certainly be available to the public — what content the defendant allegedly infringed on. In this case it would have to include the file name and BitTorrent hash/name. Otherwise, no judge would ever permit a suit to move forward.
Queerty’s misleading headline though, “Corbin Fisher Doesn’t Care About The ‘Thieving Little Shits’ Who Might Commit Suicide If Outed” (Corbin Fisher never said they didn’t care about people who commit suicide) makes a giant leap that says more about Queerty than it does about Corbin Fisher. Sensationalizing the death of a gay teen is something they’ve done before. You think they wouldn’t enjoy doing it again if one of the gay teens named in the Corbin Fisher lawsuit (if there even are any) kills himself?
This morning, I spoke with attorney Marc Randazza about the negative press they’ve been getting.
The Sword: Do you regret using that language (“thieving little shit”)?
Marc Randazza: Yes, I regret using that language. I am protective of my client, and occasionally I let that get the better of me. We’re all human, and sometimes even a lawyer who is supposed to be above that kind of fray will let loose with a little emotion. Of course, this “concerned parent” was a plant — not a real concerned parent. Irrelevant to your question, but worth mentioning. We already knew that when we got the email. Of course, that should have made me act *more* cautiously, but I’ll never claim to be anything but plain-spoken.
The Sword: What about the fact that teens will not be able to lie and say that they stole straight porn when in fact the court documents will show that they stole gay porn?
Marc Randazza: I think that the “little white lie” promise is misunderstood. Yes, once we go to court, we won’t be able to fudge what movies are involved in any court documents. However, before that (for example in the amnesty program), I’m willing to remain silent if someone wants to fib in order to remain in the closet. This is part of the reason for the amnesty program — by this point, if you’ve stolen CF material, you either know about the amnesty program, or you must be sensory deprived. We have had an ever-increasing number of people asking for the amnesty, and at least two or three roll in each day. These are the people that I’ve offered to support if they want to fudge the facts to remain in the closet. I never offered, nor even so much as suggested, that I would submit perjured testimony to the court. However, I will be delighted to be ambiguous where it is compassionate to be so. Furthermore, if anyone wants to participate in these cases anonymously, I don’t have a problem with them doing that. There are procedures available to do that, and we would not resist them.
The Sword: Do you or the team at Corbin Fisher have any worries that all of this press about lawsuits will have a negative effect on membership sales?
Marc Randazza: We are not particularly concerned about the “negative press,” since no actual journalists with any credibility have taken the hysterical position that Queerty and Unicorn Booty have taken. In fact, if you look at the comments to each, it seems that the commenters have more reasonable writing skills and better journalist skills (and ethics) than the authors of the hit pieces. Calls for a boycott is not going to resonate well with our paying members. One, our paying members are, for the most part, angry with the thieves. Lets face it, if you were honest and paid for your meal, wouldn’t you be mad if you saw 20 people dine and dash? Two, the negative opinions are largely contained to a tiny handful of people who have some pretty bizarre opinions and an unglued hatred. I don’t see anyone rational taking this negativity to heart.
I also received an e-mail from Corbin Fisher COO Brian Dunlap, in which he rejects the notion that his company’s lawsuit could lead to violence or suicide. It’s a long e-mail! But read the whole thing below. And do note, I’ve been critical of Corbin Fisher on a variety of issues (here and here), but that they are now being accused of “not caring” about closeted gay teens and, in essence, responsible for their eventual deaths? Ridiculous. The incessant tactic of scapegoating anyone and anything that may or may not have any relation to something horrible happening to a young gay person is not only irresponsible, it makes gay people look like pussies. Stop doing it.
Dunlap’s e-mail, which is largely in response to the question of, “What if out of all the people named in your lawsuit, one outed teen kills himself or is beaten by his parents. Even though it’s just one, isn’t one instance of violence too much?”:
“But isn’t even one instance of violence too much?”- In regards to that…most certainly a single instance would be too much. But at what point do you draw the line? We’re convinced the odds are far greater no such instance or anything approaching it would occur, whereas some of these bloggers (based upon nothing but pure speculation and the desire to generate controversy) are convinced it is inevitable. I’m not aware of a single teenager having been outed through 10 years of Titan suits, years worth of Lucas Ent. suits, or years worth of our own suits. So my problem with what some of these bloggers are suggesting is they really have no foundation for their statements. Sure, we can assume it’s all teenagers downloading from the torrents, but we can also assume the *least* likely person to want to illicitly download gay porn while on the home internet connection is a closeted teenager. We can also assume the CC-carrying adults we purposefully market to and among whom we have, for years, pursued brand awareness are the ones most likely to purposefully seek our content out on the torrents (which require specific searches, vs. randomly happening across them). I’d say those are fair assumptions.
Going beyond assumptions, I reiterate no single teenager popping up in any of these past suits (by us or other companies), and challenge the notion that it’s just kids sans credit cards stealing. Marc [Randazza] has yet to be contacted by a single teen re: the amnesty. While, certainly, one has every right to assume no teen could afford it anyways and thus not bother contacting, you’d think at least one would contact us to ask for some leniency, explain their situation, and simply promise not to do it again? We even had one guy contact us to pay the amnesty amount – and cover for his friends! So he had thousands of dollars readily available to do that, but no CC or means to purchase content legally – doubt it? Each and every single individual who has taken us up on our amnesty offer is living proof that it’s not just people without CCs, or who are underage, or who otherwise can’t afford it stealing content online. They were all simply people who made a choice not to pay for it – a choice they certianly now regret. So (and sure it’s a loaded statistic), I can confidently say 100% of the admitted torrent pirates who have accepted our amnesty offer are adults, with financial means. That’s far better a sampling than Queerty or UnicornBooty could propose.
So, in regards to “But isn’t one instance of violence too much”, at what point do you draw the line? Should we all cease production entirely on account of the prospect someone might illegally download our content and get caught by their parents (even absent any lawsuits, but just because mom and dad spot something fishy in the download folder)? Should you shut down TheSword.com because a closeted teen might forget to clear their browser history? Should gay blogs and gay news organizations not have reported on the suicides of the bullied gay teens over recent months because there was the prospect that even one kid might have been inspired to commit a copy-cat act? Should gay authors cease publishing stories about how to come out of the closet, because just one person who follows their advice might have it all go wrong for them? Should gay bars and clubs no longer ID, because just one underage kid busted for drinking might face an unpleasant reaction from their parents? If “just one” underage teenager were to get in trouble in the future because they read the UnicornBooty and Queerty posts and interpreted them as condoning, justifying and even encouraging illicit piracy for which they get caught, should that be an excuse for us to demand those blogs censor themselves?
Another problem I have with the “But isn’t one instance of violence too much?” question is that it immediately assigns us the blame for it, if it were to happen – and I feel any blame in such a circumstance is up for grabs among many candidates. Why are we the only ones constrained by such a prospect, or expected to be constrained? It seems none of those condemning us through comments on the blogs in question, while freely admitting their own willingness to pirate content, seem the least bit interested in considering their own role in things and their own being deserving of blame. Why is it the company legally producing the materially; complying with all laws re: its distribution to adults; employing age-verification technologies and policies; marketing to and promoting itself to an adult audience; strictly prohibiting access to minors; seeking its lawful rights and the enforcement of the law against those who break it, the only party people are willing to assign guilt to here? Heck… not just willing, but gleefully eager to assign guilt to! Why is no one condemning the porn pirates distributing, for their role in things? Or the teenagers themselves – after all, at some point every individual is responsible for their own actions and the consequences that arise. I do not feel that gay porn companies should all be, in a sense, handicapped by some manufactured controversy or unproven hypothesis. Obviously, straight companies don’t deal with this. Nor do movie companies or record labels. So is it just gay adult companies that should never be allowed to protect their intellectual property through legal channels? Shall we all just suck it up and deal with it, because enforcing our intellectual property rights allows for far too many unpleasant hypothetical outcomes and sensationalist theories? I suppose, if you were to assume a vulnerable gay teenager could be exposed through any of this, that’s one thing. But I challenge that very assumption, based upon a mountain of evidence that is way beyond anything these bloggers have offered.
I’d challenge you to read through the posts by UnicornBooty, Queerty et al and find a single instance in which the authors of those pieces introduced anything more than their own assumptions. The Queerty ones are particularly interesting. Note the title of their first piece: “Will Corbin Fisher’s Gay Porn Piracy Crackdown Inevitably Out Gay Teens?” Fair enough to ask the question. We’ve compiled ample evidence to suggest it will not (and I acknowledge that there are no absolute certainties in any situation, really, but I’d say those proposing that idea have as much of an obligation to back up their assumptions as we do. Instead, they seem to have been granted the luxury of throwing out no more than speculation and that’s that). Note Queerty’s second title in the piece that followed that first one…”Hey Gay Teen Porn Pirates: Got $1900? You Can Avoid Being Outed.” I’m sorry…but at what point did they establish there were assuredly gay teens involved? It’s awfully convenient they can pose a question, and then answer it definitively without having offered up any proof or evidence in the interim. I’m convinced they just saw how much attention the first piece got and so chose to amp up the rhetoric and score even more attention the second time around with a more damning title.