Of the three profiles this reporter logged for January, it's interesting to note that the Acacia brou-ha-ha serves as a connecting thread between them. Homegrown Video's Spike Goldberg happens to also be one of the organizers of the IMPA (The Internet Media Protective Association, www.impai.org). Naturally, we were inclined to speak of Acacia. In response to an October 2003 XBiz.com interview with Robert Berman, Senior Vice President, Business Development and General Counsel for Acacia Media Technologies Corp., Goldberg says, "I understand that Acacia has contacted hundreds, if not over 1,000, of the companies in our industry, including those who make little - if any - profit from their Websites. It is hard for me to believe that Acacia will file suit against hundreds or thousands of companies that make a few hundred or a few thousand dollars through their Internet businesses, but ultimately that is up to Acacia's shareholders to decide.
"Because my company is involved in this litigation, and because of my involvement in the IMPA, I have been asked by many of these companies what they should do if contacted by Acacia. In addition to contacting a qualified patent attorney, they may wish to consider asking Acacia to explain, in writing, precisely what it is that their company does that infringes the claims of Acacia's patents. Given that Acacia is asking them to pay it for property rights it allegedly owns, shouldn't they be entitled to know exactly what that property is and how it is that Acacia believes they are using it?"
Goldberg's stance, as one might imagine, has shone light on the adult industry in a manner it doesn't normally experience: as a legit business under legit business duress. It's also garnered notice for Homegrown Video - as though what is arguably the most mainstream media-saturated adult business in the world needs more press. Still, "Homegrown Video will be featured in an upcoming documentary for HBO, and a recent spot on Tech TV about the Acacia situation was very favorable," Goldberg notes with some pride.
In 1982, Homegrown Video was the first company to distribute homemade triple-X, prompting Newsweek (that's right, Newsweek Magazine) to crown it "the longest running series in the history of porn."
"Homegrown ... revolutionized porn," the site states, and "continues to be newsworthy worldwide. Not only because of its history and influence on XXX, but also because of this unique Website," which features uncut full-length video, never before seen photos, erotic stories, "before they were pornstars," submitter sets, outdoors photo sets, contests and giveaways, live cams with free chat, broadband video (updates daily), video downloads, "first" photo shoots, cam archives, and fan letters.
It's that unlimited source of exclusive content, most never-before seen, that really hooks 'em. "For the first time, see the uncut versions of the amazing tapes that people send to us, and the pictures never before published in our catalogs or boxcovers." According to Goldberg, that particular revenue stream's unlikely to slow down. Amazingly, "We have certainly seen an increase in both the quality and quantity of video being sent to us!"
"Back in the early '90s, Xplor Media Group owner Farrell Timlake and his wife were making their own amateur sex tapes," AVN reported in 1999 after Homegrown won the AVN Award for Best Pro-Am or Amateur line, "which they submitted to Homegrown Video (under different owners at the time). They were never paid as promised for their efforts. While investigating the reason for that, they received a letter from a bankruptcy trustee, stating the approaching demise of Homegrown. Farrell decided to buy the company, and the rest, as they say, is history."
You'd think, five years later, that people would be over recording themselves and then publicizing it.
But no. "People are way more comfortable doing this kind of stuff than when we started," Goldberg informs. "Thankfully, people never grow tired of getting in front of the camera to show off to the world. There is a certain sense of the amateurs turning more pro, but mostly in the sense that camera technique is vastly improved. The part that remains true to amateur is people are having honest to goodness fun."
AEBN [see profile p.100 - Ed.] signed a content deal with Xplor Media Group, parent company to Homegrown, for just this kind of content; but deals like that don't endanger the Homegrown brand, Goldberg says. "Companies like AEBN allow us to get even greater exposure. We learned from the video business that having a network of solid distributors is the key to success. AEBN-quality services and support of our branding benefits both our company and theirs.
"The content products in Homegrown Content and our end user product on Homegrown Video remain exclusive .... We have so much content that it's easy for us to leverage it with solid companies like AEBN and GameLink, yet maintain other portions of our content as completely exclusive material.
"I think amateur is where everyone ends up when they go looking for porn," Goldberg says. "We get people who are looking for real reactions in their sex scenes. While some might consider amateur to be a niche market, it has grown so large and has so many different categories, that such a classification seems outdated."
On the business end, Goldberg cites consistency as Homegrown Video's greatest strength. "We forge solid relationships with our vendors, our peers, and our customers. The trust and bonds we have made lead to ever-expanding opportunities.
"We also are intensely devoted to pleasing our customers and delivering what they ask for," Goldberg adds. "When it comes to our flagship site, Homegrownvideo.com, we go to great lengths to provide the best customer support possible."
There's a difference between this and whatever flavor-of-the-moment it is an adult site can offer sexed-up customers, and Goldberg recognizes this. "Content is content. One person likes this, another that, but everyone loves good customer service.
"Finally, we are reasonably savvy marketers and have been very fortunate to receive so much mainstream media exposure and the opportunity to expose millions to our brand."
No doubt. Coming up for Homegrown is expansion into a couple of new sites: "By the time this goes to print," Goldberg says, "we should have launched our amateur VoD site, the new Homegrown-Store.com, and our HomegrownCams.com should have entered the new 2.0 phase which has a new look, new software, and a lot more shows."
They're also launching a "string of niche-themed sites based on our Xplor Media [video/DVD] series, like Natural Bush and Horny over 40, and niche content products for Webmasters based along similar themes."
Also, "We will continue to look for successful relationships with other businesses," Goldberg assures. The "continued success" thing is a gimme, Spike.