Oh, LOL. Ariel has been chasing up an idiot who has been posting our pirated stuff around and managed to get a response from him on Twitter. This is what he said:
“Dear Ariel usually i don’t remove any content but you are one of my top favorite models. i like your beautiful face i respect you and i will remove your content but we need a deal. i will remove your content and you give me a free account on all of your websites.”
I’m sure most of you can immediately seen the looniness of this. But I’m a serious-minded chap and I can’t resist the urge to explain just in case anyone out there genuinely doesn’t get it.
Our websites are a traditional small business, an artisan cottage industry. We’re almost exactly the same as a small local bakery producing hand-baked cakes. Like the bakery, we pay for our ingredients. We buy our flour and sugar and jam and fruit (pay our models and crew, buy ropes, handcuffs, gags), we have to have premises to work and we pay our gas and electric bills to run the ovens… and we had to buy the big ovens as well in a great big expense (buying the cameras and lights). We have to pay our accountant to help us keep track of everything so we can pay our taxes, and all of this is funded by kind customers buying one cupcake at a time.
Imagine you are the bakery. One day you find someone who has stolen a shed-load of your cupcakes sitting on the kerb outside the bakery giving them away to your prospective customers. When asked to stop, their response is to say that they will, but only if you give them all the cupcakes they want for nothing. And so they don’t trouble you, they ask for a key to the bakery so they can drop in and take free cupcakes any time they feel like it.
They are even putting people off from coming and looking in your shop window, so your potential customers don’t even find out the other great things you have to offer- like custard slices, the weekly pudding club, the tea and coffee mornings to help local good causes, the community that they could be joining that you’ve worked for a decade to build up around your bakery. Because of course people will be tempted by the free cupcakes from the thief on the street- so tempted they might not ever make it past him to your bakery.
The thief will even complain how much WORK it is for them, how long they’ve spent collecting your stolen cupcakes. They’ll get very angry with other thieves who steal cupcakes from their stolen pile and set up in the next door pitch on the street. They’ll say how they’ve taken lots of effort to remove your pretty “Ariel’s bakery” cupcake boxes and shove the cupcakes into their own shoddy, stolen boxes. (Stretching the analogy a bit, but that’s what cropping the URL from our images does).
They even whine that they are doing you a SERVICE and that you should be grateful that they have chosen to steal YOUR cupcakes, not the cupcakes from the big supermarket down the road, that you’ll somehow benefit from their industriousness when they give your stolen cupcakes away to any even slightly hungry person who walks within five blocks of your shop. After all, they personally are a huge fan of your cupcakes. When they eat a stolen cupcake, it is ALWAYS one of yours.
What would you say to the cupcake thief sitting on your doorstep? Would you give them the key to the bakery so they can help themselves to freebies?
That’s why we occasionally get the urge to shout at these people “BUT THEY ARE MY FUCKING CUPCAKES YOU FUCKING BANDIT! I know this because I made them with my own two hands. You didn’t make them, not one little bit. YOU ARE STEALING *MY* FUCKING CUPCAKES!”
Every photograph we make costs us money to make- an appreciable amount of money. About the same as a cupcake from a local bakery, actually.
Let that sink in for a moment. Every single photograph we make costs about the same as a cupcake from a local bakery. So a photoset is like a whole catering pack of cupcakes.
The only difference between us and the bakery, business-wise, is that the bakery can only sell an individual cup-cake once, whereas we can sell multiple identical copies of a photograph (which is what happens when you download one- you’re getting a copy of the photograph identical in every way to the original on the website).
These copies cost substantially less than the original photograph costs to make. They’re not entirely free because we have to pay bandwidth charges- a single photo costs fractions of a cent when someone downloads it. That cost is so small that you can find web hosts who cover those costs for you in exchange for selling adverts. It is like the cupcake thief covering the cost of his petrol to drive to your shop every day by handing out leaflets advertising other local businesses (including some of your less-scrupulous competitors). And it doesn’t cover the actual cost of making the photograph- the models, the lights, the camera, the bills.
We can afford to charge significantly less per photo than the bakery can charge per cupcake, which is why website memberships give you 50,000 photos for a $40.
But this relies on enough people buying the photos to cover the “price of a cupcake” amount of money it costs us to make EACH AND EVERY ONE of those 50,000 photos in the first place. So long as hundreds of people are kind and honest enough to buy the photos, everyone wins- the creators can afford to make more photos, and the buyers can benefit from the low cost of each individual photo.
Dear Mr. Pirate. I have an alternative deal for you. Why don’t you buy a camera, some lights, some bondage gear, hire a studio, a rigger and a model (all at your own expense) and shoot some photos yourself? Then you can give them to us to use on our site. Or give them away for free. Whatever the hell you like, because those photos are yours and you paid for them. Properly paid for them- covered the costs of making them.
Or hire Ariel and me to shoot some for you, our rates are very reasonable considering what we provide. We’ll send you the photosets and you can do whatever you like with them- post them anywhere. We’ll see how you feel about that when you’ve actually paid the real cost of making them.
P.S. The same applies to video, of course. Costs are a cupcake every few seconds of footage.