Why Camgirls Are Falling Victim to Content Thieves and Screencapping
Piracy and facial-recognition software underpin dark side of adult live-streaming.
Being new, naive, and naked is a bad combination
If you work as a webcam model, it's a fact of the industry that you are being recorded.
For my first ever webcam show, I naively thought that because I was new, no one would bother to record and share my videos. I mean, who was really going to be interested in watching a grainy clip of an inexperienced girl with no sex toys and bad lighting without even the novelty of it being live?
It wasn’t until a few days later I found out how wrong I was. Being new, naive, and naked is a bad combination.
During a show, only the next day following my first time on cam, one of my customers informed me they had stumbled across my stream through a different site. The offender had illegally uploaded my content using software to record what was on the screen, a practice known as “screencapping.”
A quick search of my camgirl username brought up pages and pages of results, and that’s when the panic set in.
I went through about 10 pages of results, all of which listed sites that were making money off my videos. These websites were packed with screenshots of my performances, with many of them also having full-length videos of my shows.
Facial recognition technology brings screencapping to a whole new level
The first result I clicked on immediately made my stomach drop. There were sets of photos and videos underneath an advertisement for used facial recognition technology which allows its users to upload pictures of people they know in order to match a webcam model to that picture.
This particularly harrowing discovery immediately put me in a very vulnerable position. I was at risk of being exposed by anyone with my image, such as my co-workers, friends, and anyone that had me as a contact on social media. They could reverse-search my image and find my likeness, which would surely be my webcam persona.
Other sites were less technically advanced but still had my content available. Some sites even had my content behind a paywall, so you could only watch the videos if you parted with your cash. They were making money off my image and making me scared for my safety at the same time.
These sites use automated technology to record every webcam show, at any point in time. The content is uploaded to their sites, which rarely have clear contact information, to send content take-down requests, also known as Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices, referencing the law that criminalizes the distribution of copyrighted works.
Filing DMCA notices took months
I soon began the lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful process of filing DMCA requests to each of the sites. Several had options for DMCA claims that were intentionally broken links, o that I typed out the form and it “crashed” meaning I had to start again… and again…. and again… until I realized I was being scammed.
These forms ask for personal information, such as your legal name, address and contact details but you have the option of asking a trusted person to act on your behalf, entering their details as your representative. This worked for the site that used facial recognition technology, but many others ignored the requests.
After weeks of trying to locate contact details for many of the sites, including going through tiresome host servers, only to have my DMCA notice ignored, I reached out to my cam host site, who offered to file requests on my behalf, so I could my personal information private.
After over a month of trying, my host site did not manage any more success than I had, and I realized that this was a lost cause.
Screencapping made me temporarily quit the industry
Screencapping has caused me a lot of anxiety, anger, temporary exits from the webcam industry.
It’s a fact of the industry, that every performance is recorded. There’s no discrimination. Old or young, new or veteran, all ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. We’re all being recorded and having our content stolen from us and for the time being, it seems like we’re stuck with it.
I have spoken to law enforcement, lawyers, and cyber-security experts, all of whom explained the difficulty in getting content removed due to the decentralized nature of the internet- for them, it’s a wild goose chase. There are too many dead-ends, fake contact details, and fraudsters looking to steal personal information that you do submit.
The only power I have now is to change how I feel about being screencapped
For the time being, this only leaves me with the option of changing how I feel about having my naked body plastered all over the web.
I’m still on the extremely long road to self-acceptance about my work. For a job that I love, that brings me so much joy, amazing customers and a good income, I have had to battle with feelings of insecurity about how others view me as well as stigmatization from friends and even medical professionals.
It has taken a lot of inner strength to move past this stigma and to enjoy my work for what it is: orgasms, laughter and lots of money. No content thief or judgmental friend can take that from me.
In my next post, I will continue to talk about screencapping, looking at ways of staying safe when performing as a webcam model.
Image sources: Donna Johnson, Tookapic
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