Life here in the far-out year of 2015 is rather different from what we expected. We still don’t have flying cars, hoverboards, or the technology to clone Arnold Schwarzenegger. But on the bright side, we do have a constantly-expanding income inequality gap and robots stealing all our jobs. So … yay?
To make up for all these dashed dreams, we’ve had to invent sleazy new occupations that not even the most pessimistic sci-fi dystopia could have predicted. Twenty years ago, the following job titles would have been wacky indie band names, but today they are real things. Right now, there’s someone making a living as a …
#7. Digital Porn Condom Remover
With the passage of laws like Measure B, which requires all adult film performers working in Los Angeles to use condoms while porning it up, the dirty movie industry has run into a bit of a problem. Yeah, yeah, it’s all well and good to protect their employees and promote safer sex at the same time, but as far as the audience is concerned, condoms are a bummer, man. That’s too much like real sex, which we can all agree is terrible.
We’re pretty sure they don’t even exist in porn universes, much like fat deliverymen or underwear.
Most studios have responded by moving out of the area, but at least one has devised a modern solution to this modern problem: dong CGI. That’s right: The same technology that brought us Jar Jar is continuing that sexy tradition by being used to digitally remove the condoms from actors’ biggest assets — and by that, we mean their Brobdingnagian wieners. Now, this is a porn-free website, so we can’t show you the results, but here’s a graphic to give you an idea:
Tony DiMarco, director of Falcon Studios’ optimistically-titled California Dreamin’ 1, explains the decision to get all digitally graphic in his gayrotica masterpiece by saying: “I really wanted to capture the essence of that time, when life seemed more carefree and spontaneous. In keeping with this concept, I felt that condoms need [sic] to be addressed.” Honestly, once you get rid of condoms, you’re going down the slippery slope of computer-animated possibilities here. Why not drop the pretense of reality altogether and give everyone strategically-placed tentacles?
#6. Mass Erotic E-Book Plagiarist
Producing factory-line erotic eBooks is a disturbingly lucrative business, but you have to write a lot of them if you want to pay the rent $1 at a time. Also, writing is hard, even when it’s about lesbian werewolf twins. That’s why there’s an entire underground industry of “writers” who just download a bunch of other people’s stories, change a few words around here and insert some anal there, slap on a new title, and commence rolling around in that dirty (in more ways than one) money. Some successful e-smut authors are literally copying and pasting from free sites like Literotica:
This explains why Sonic is a character in every single top-selling erotic novel on Amazon.
Possibly the most absurd victim of this scam is Rachel Ann Nunes, a Mormon writer who was horrified to find that her “Christian romance novel,” A Bid for Love, appeared to have been repurposed and resold as a popular eBook … with some very un-Christlike action thrown in. She’s asking for $150,000 in damages from Tiffanie Rushton, who is herself a Mormon grade-school teacher. OK, forget about romance stories, we want a novel set in the seedy world of Mormon writer ladies.
She had to be checked into a clinic for exhaustion after coming up with those two non-stolen lines at the end.
Rushton’s scam came to light because Nunes’ associates recognized the story that they accidentally clicked on, they swear, they had no idea they were reading porn. But most writers aren’t so lucky. The industry is allowed to thrive because nobody wants to be the one to report that they’re sure they’ve read Centaur Studs somewhere else before. Even when you’re writing a less-backroom book, though, there are ways to avoid detection. According to one successful self-help eBook author, Filipino ghostwriters come awful cheap. It turns out that even outside the content of its wares, the Kindle Store is one big hotbed of exploitation.
#5. Rich-Ass Instagram-Stealing Artist
As a society, we’ve become bizarrely comfortable with documenting every aspect of our lives and sharing it with the entire world, from our gross sex tapes to the even grosser photos of the resulting babies. But be careful that your stuff isn’t too good — you could be giving away a goldmine. Career art plagiarist Robert Prince and his gigantic balls have made headlines recently by hanging screenshots of strangers’ Instagram posts in art galleries and selling the prints for up to $90,000. And so far, he’s getting away with it.
“Sorry, all the crappy lunch photos are sold out.”
You see, the terms and conditions that you definitely didn’t read when you signed up for Instagram included a clause stating that, although your painstakingly filtered glamour shots belong to you, they kinda belong to everyone else, too. These kinds of clauses are presumably only meant to cover that handy little “share” button, but according to one intellectual property lawyer, it could mean that Prince’s generous personal definition of the word is legal. He also makes sure that the prints technically count as “original pieces” by adding his own comments at the bottom — as in, a literal Instagram comment written by him. He truly is the ultimate shitty Internet commenter.
Fittingly, his victims are fighting loopholes with loopholes. When the purveyors of tattooed nipples known as Suicide Girls noticed that several of “Prince’s” works featured their models, they decided to sell copies of his copies, sort of like a mise en abyme of porn and plagiarism. The difference is that they’re giving the proceeds to charity, so it’s not entirely a petty gesture; only mostly.
Good thing Andy Warhol is dead, or this could turn into a full-on comments section flame war.
#4. Viral YouTube-To-Facebook Thief
If you’re too lazy to even keep up any pretense of originality, then there’s good news: You can build an entire empire based solely on sharing stuff. Think of George Takei, whose resurgence in popularity can be credited mostly to whatever memes his interns can find to make puns about. You can amass a big following this way, and aggregating content is a whole lot easier than creating it. Your followers get cool stuff, while you get their business for bringing it to them. Everybody wins! Oh, except the people who made said cool stuff in the first place.
This is especially sucky on Facebook, where you can easily rip a video from YouTube, upload it, and get exponentially more views on the strength of people hating to click “play” buttons.
Half of you are yelling at your monitor right now because this failed to autoplay.
Thanks to these “freebooters,” as they’re oh-so-cleverly called, more and more people are experiencing the hollow victory of watching their work blow up in a format from which they’ll never receive a penny. Comedy sketch group SheSketch, for example, saw a stolen copy of their most popular videos — sitting at 29 million views on YouTube — get shared over 200 million times. Another video by YouTube science guy Destin Sandlin, which had been edited to remove any reference to Sandlin and credited to some British Maxim copycat, got 18 million views in two days. We can’t put it better / more infuriated than Sandlin himself did in this video:
See? We shared it without stealing. That wasn’t so hard.
Hank Green, the other half of YA author John Green’s surprisingly entertaining and unsappy YouTube enterprise VlogBrothers, is a little unhappy about this. He tracked down the numbers and found that almost 75 percent of the most popular videos on Facebook in the first quarter of 2015 were rip-offs, accounting for 17 billion views stolen from their creators. This is a sweet deal for Facebook, which gets to put its ads on the side of these viral hits, so they’ve made sure that you’re more likely to see a ripped-off video than a link to the original as you scroll down your feed.
And you know what? It’s our own fault. When you see a video you like, you need to find out who made it, go to their YouTube channel, click a button, sit through an ad, and ensure that British dudebros never run out of content to steal.
#3. Professional Twitter Joke Plagiarist
You heard about the Fat Jew, right? If not, then know that’s not the setup to a terrible joke — well, sort of. It’s the nom de douche of John Ostrovsky, who was looking at a bright future based on stealing jokes on Twitter until the Internet metaphorically sent boxes of rage poops to the prestigious talent agency that had signed him.
It was a rare act of justice from the Internet outrage machine, but Ostrovsky is far from the only one doing this and making shitloads of money off of it. Elliot Tebele — “the man behind Instagram’s funniest feed,” @fuckjerry — is one of a multitude of users whose strategy consists of cropping the names out of other people’s tweets and reposting them. “It’s really hard to find out who was the original creator when pictures go viral on Tumblr or whatever,” explained the Internet sensation who doesn’t know how to use Google.
Screw that guy.
Some of these human aggregators are taking the audience they’ve gained on the backs of other people’s jokes and straight-up selling it. Jon King, who runs a plethora of “parody” Twitter accounts that in his own estimation are only about 30 percent his own work, openly admits to sharing links for money, explaining “I’m always on Twitter, it seems like; so I figured, why not try to make a little money off of it?” Oh, let’s see, Jon, how about your dignity? Integrity? Your immortal soul?
#2. Fake Social Media Follower
Clearly, the number of followers, likes, and shares your online presence garners is important to a lot more than just your self-esteem. Accounts with millions of followers can drown in sponsors and advertising revenue, which means that maximizing your interaction becomes a priority at all costs — specifically, about ten bucks. That’s how much it costs to get 1,000 robots to follow you on Twitter.
And possibly in real life, after they send back Terminators to hunt people like you.
If your budget is a bit higher, some websites offer one million fake followers for only $600. You can get 1,000 Instagram followers for $12 and 1,000 SoundCloud plays for $9, creating this weird reverse “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation in which everybody but your sponsors knows that you’re playing to an empty arena.
And for a mere $50, you can get a six-month license for software that lets you create a practically infinite number of Twitter accounts, which you can program to tweet, retweet, and follow others just like real friends. (You cannot, sadly, make them love you.) You can then turn around and sell these fake friends to other users, creating a pyramid scheme of untold numbers of fake people interacting with other fake people in a fake environment. We did it, everyone. We built the Matrix.
#1. Official Trailer Passer-On-er
The most tragic thing about all the rampant plagiarism is that there are totally legitimate ways to make buckets of cash on other people’s work. All you have to do is limit yourself to offering a preview. Movie trailers used to be a thing you tolerated while wondering how long you should wait before digging into your popcorn. But these days, they’ve become events unto themselves. Just look at the one for Fifty Shades Of Grey:
The last 52,163 are us refreshing the page over and over to try to get it to 69 million for this screenshot.
If our calculations are correct, 68 million views comes to about $136,000 in revenue, possibly more. Now you know why we suddenly have teasers for the teasers (preceded by teasers for other movies’ teasers). Everyone loves trailers and movie snippets, but we love them more when they’re posted not by the greedy studio trying to sell you something, but by passionate fans sharing the thing they love. That’s where professional “passionate fans” come in.
A YouTube channel called Movieclips — which is devoted, surprisingly, to movie clips — generates over 600 million views a month and over $1 million in ad revenue. For uploading parts of movies. Not only that, but they’ve posted so many cinematic bits over the years that they now have the ability to identify other fan-posted movie clips as soon as they’re uploaded on YouTube. That scene from Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot you thought you got away with posting? They probably saw that.
But rather than getting the clips deleted, Movieclips simply helps the studio claim the revenue — and the stats, which are almost as valuable. If clips from a movie that tanked suddenly start getting tons of views, that tells the studio that the audience is there, opening the door for sequels. That used to be measured in DVD sales, which is what allowed the Austin Powers franchise to flourish. OK, maybe that’s not such a good thing.
The point is, it’s an industry that thrives on sharing content created by other people, who have no problem with you sharing it. Not only do you never have to create a single thing, you never have to feel bad about it.
Um, excuse us, we need to go have a talk with HR.
Read more: www.cracked.com