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Free-range porn

There have been some changes to Dreams of Spanking over the last month. You may have noticed them, you may not. I haven't been able to write about it here for reasons that will become obvious, but now things are more or less resolved, I can briefly describe what's happened. 

It started with a site review by our credit card processor CCBill, requesting some minor (if baffling) wording changes, mostly to blogposts and scene pages. CCBill's Acceptable Usage Policy has vague wording describing the sort of content they are happy to process billing for, and we went through a similar review process with them when preparing the site for launch. The interpretation of their policy seems to subjectively depend on which employee is handling your case; and so some things they had required before launch weren't required now, whereas other things that had been missed then were now flagged for removal.

For technical reasons, the review also required us to set up a new subaccount with them, a process which triggered yet another review, from yet another policy advisor, and this is where things got interesting. The short version is that a lot of content which hadn't been picked up on a week earlier was now flagged for deletion. They specifically picked out three scenes featuring sword-fighting or severe caning. These films were fine a week ago, but now, suddenly, they had to go.

I didn't really have a choice about complying with CCBill's demands. I can't run this site without a billing provider, and other producers informed me that a lot of these regulations are handed down from Visa and other financial institutions, and that all credit card processors have similarly inconsistent requirements. As one producer said, "the policies of such organizations are capricious, arbitrary, defy logic and present an unpredictable moving target". Most billing agents deliberately word their policies to be vague, to give them scope for flexibility. This vagueness means no producer can guarantee they’ll be safe with one billing agent or another.  Besides which, changing credit card processor is a lengthy, complex, expensive process which I simply couldn't afford.

I make spanking videos for the love of it, and in hope of reaching out to others who share my fantasies. I hope that my films might turn you on, fire your imagination, or perhaps help you discover that you are not alone, and that spanking fantasies can be a healthy part of a vibrant sexuality. I firmly believe that it is not harmful for consenting adults to act out these sorts of fantasies, or to share the resulting images with likeminded kinksters.

The key is consent. If all participants consented and had fun making it, there is nothing wrong with enjoying any kind of porn, however weird or extreme.

I therefore decided that the best possible response to CCBill's removal requests was to give away the deleted scenes for free. As I wrote at the time:

So these requirements are handed down to CCBill from Visa; all other billing agents are the same? Fuck capitalism: I’ll give it all away. Full length video downloads, image galleries, behind the scenes documentaries, associated writings, everything. Plus the comments, the blog posts, the performer bios, all the surrounding context that demonstrates the ethical production and enthusiastic content that went into the making of those scenes, because without that, it’s not representative of what I’m doing.

Free range porn, released into the wild! It’s an exhilarating, liberating prospect. Free economics: the last line of defence against the capitalist censors. If I’m not charging, there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.

The free download site has now been launched, and is called Darker Dreams.

Darker Dreams: free-range spanking porn

When I was in the middle of dealing with this issue the urge to rebel against CCBill was a strong one, but that wasn't my only reason for deciding to make the deleted content available for free. The more I thought about it, the better an idea it seemed.

One of the films flagged for removal was Ludwig and Kaelah's film The Final Test. They wrote the film themselves as a positive representation of their severe caning kink, which is often considered controversial. They were tired of arguing their corner against people who insisted anyone who liked that sort of thing was “sick”, and decided to make a film complete with a behind the scenes documentary to show how it can be conducted in a healthy, consensual, and empowering way. Both of them refused to allow me to pay them for the shoot: they insisted that they were doing this for love, not money. As soon as The Final Test was singled out for removal, giving this film away seemed like the best way to honour the spirit in which it was created

Additionally, I come to production from the open source community, and have long been fascinated by free economics and the future of commercial media distribution in the age of file-sharing. I’m interested in exploring alternative business models that exploit the economics of abundance offered by digital media – for instance, I have a “pay what you like” porn site in the pipeline. This seemed like a good opportunity to road-test one possible alternative business model (giving content away and inviting donations from those who enjoy it) in a relatively risk-free way. After all, the content had already earned its keep on Dreams of Spanking; I could make the experiment without having to invest more money producing brand-new content.

A separate mini-site was also the most achievable solution. A free site is easier, quicker and cheaper to build than a separate site using a new billing agent; or than changing the billing agent for Dreams of Spanking. This option allowed me to make the content available as quickly as possible after I was required to take it offline.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if content is deemed dangerous or offensive by anyone, controlling corporations or governments alike, the best way to prove that it isn’t is to make it publically available.

Many commenters have remarked on how tame the scenes CCBill objected to are compared to porn you can find elsewhere on the web. Our silly sword-fighting scenes, for instance, all use fake weapons, such as rubber toy swords or capped fencil foils - and yet CCBill still found the "threat to life" implied by these duelling scenes too "realistic" to be allowed.

Fear and myths still abound about kinky people and practices, and fear is fuelled by ignorance. Most campaigners against "violent porn" (and there is a campaign against simulated rape pornography raging as I write this) have sat down and watched very little of it. Openness and transparency are our best defence against censorship and fear.

Hence, Darker Dreams.

Thanks to all who helped donate to make this site happen.

Thanks also to the following bloggers for covering this issue and linking to the free site:

Check out Darker Dreams to see The Final Test, The Pirates of the Jolly Kraken and The Avenger's Return. If you want to support this project, donations are always appreciated, however small. Or of course you can buy a membership to Dreams of Spanking and access our archive of 123 uncensored spanking scenes.

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