This ‘feminist’ porn site is allegedly hosting stolen porn

Bellesa bills itself as a porn site by and for women. But the site might be excluding one group of women vital to its existence: sex workers. Female porn stars are alleging that their work is being pirated for users’ enjoyment.

The site’s problems came to light after Bustle covered Bellesa in mid-September. Sex workers and adult performers turned to Twitter with criticisms against the site, alleging that Bellesa is filled with stolen professional pornography.

Videos have since been reported and taken down, although it remains unclear if Bellesa will face any repercussions. After all, the site’s terms and conditions absolve Bellesa from wrongdoing if a video is stolen. Instead, reposting images, videos, recordings, or materials without permission leaves the user, not Bellesa, responsible.

“You shall be solely responsible for your own Content and the consequences of posting, embedding, publishing transmitting or otherwise making available your Content on the Website,” the terms state. “You affirm, represent, and warrant that you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to publish Content you submit; and you license to the Website all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to such Content for publication on the Website pursuant to these Terms of Service.”

Of course, Bellesa isn’t the first website based on free erotic content. Nor is it the first to face an epidemic of allegedly pirated material. But, as some performers have pointed out, Bellesa markets itself as a sex-positive feminist solution—it’s supposed to be the female alternative to other free porn sites. But since pirated videos actively hurt female performers, some claim the site is billing itself as a feminist solution while actually being part of the problem of devaluing women who do sex work.

“Your business model: ‘We figured men like watching stolen, free content, so women probably would too,'” one Twitter user quipped. “How is this ‘feminist?'”

https://twitter.com/NataliaGrey1/status/910018274775023616

There are various steps that Bellesa can take going forward to prevent pornographic piracy. Some activists point out that companies such as PornHub have systems in place that both compensate performers while encouraging revenue sharing, such as the site’s model program. Others argue that Bellesa could hire performers and create their own free content.

In the meantime, various ethical porn sites exist around the internet, including subreddits and Tumblr pages dedicated to amateur porn. So while Bellesa may be in hot water, there are at least better models for the site to embrace—and for feminists looking for porn to turn to.

H/T Vex Ashley

Update 4:05pm CT, Sept. 21: Bellesa’s founder and CEO, Michelle Shnaidman, released a statement on Twitter apologizing for to anyone the site “disempowered” or “disrespected.” She said she heard the criticism “loud and clear” and is disabling the site’s video section until the company can feature videos that are in partnerships with studios that compensate all involved.

Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.