Pornhub’s Updating of Sex Art Creates Novel Legal Issues

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Pornhub’s Updating of Sex Art Creates Novel Legal Issues
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Pornhub’s Updating of Sex Art Creates Novel Legal Issues; But the Porn Videos May Be impossible to Stop, Especially in U.S.

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Pornhub Recreates Classic But Erotic Masterpieces Of Art

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 20, 2021) - The Internet porn site Pornhub has posted a series of videos in which classic but erotic masterpieces of art are recreated by porn stars who allegedly act out what the painter may have had in mind, but the museums in which the paintings are now displayed are very unhappy.

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If I presented my law students with one or more of these videos and asked them to spot and then analyze the legal issues they raised, I would be in big trouble, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who never the less suggests that while such works may raise legal issues, they may not be illegal under U.S. law.

In any event, he notes, it may be impossible to stop their display on the Internet now that they have been posted by Pornhub, and probably downloaded and copied by many others.

Examples of these new pornographic but not legally obscene videos including the masterpiece VENUS OF URBANO suddenly beginning to pleasure herself. Another example is from the work MALE NUDES which ends with a graphic real-life depiction of fellatio.

The special Pornhub website, entitled "Show Me the Nudes," not only tells viewers in which museum each of the masterpieces is displayed, but also provides a map showing interested tourists exactly where each painting can be found if they want to see the original.

While this might be seen as an attempt to help introduce great art to many people who probably otherwise would never become aware of it, some might believe that it is simply a cynical attempt to suggest that this new website, with its erotic videos, is of redeeming social significance and importance.

Art Galleries Suing The Website

Both the Louvre and Uffizi says they are suing Pornhub, and demanding that the website remove the videos.

But, notes Banzhaf, who may be one of the oldest hackers, even if Pornhub itself removes the videos, they presumably have already been widely copied, and may prove impossible to remove from the Internet.

While various laws and legal principles may provide a basis for legal actions in Europe, it's not clear that any such actions would be successful under U.S. law, says the professor.

Even if the masterpieces were copyrighted, works such as this would probably be found to be protected under the copyright concept of fair use, especially since they are being made available without charge, and the posting is unlikely to deter art lovers from visiting the originals, says Banzhaf, who obtained the first copyrights even issued on computer programs.

Nevertheless, Banzhaf thinks that Pornhub would be wise to make it very clear on its website that these videos, based upon each of the masterpieces in museums, are not authorized or otherwise approved by the museums or by any other entity, and that the descriptions of each new video - for example, GABRIELLE D’ESTREES AND ONE OF HER SISTERS is labeled as a “medieval titty-twister” - are purely the creations of Pornhub and its collaborators.

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