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XBIZ 360 Conference In Hollywood Shows That Porn Is All Grown Up

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At an adult film industry event that kicked off in Hollywood on Wednesday, the scantily clad and the leather-bound were nowhere to be seen.

Absent were the booths that feature items that glow, throb, vibrate or quiver. Even the banners that hung throughout the W Hollywood Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard at Vine Street looked tame.

But then, the XBIZ 360 conference held by XBIZ Premiere magazine is not a typical X-rated expo. Instead, organizers of the annual event launched the three-day conference with a series of sober discussions, including fighting piracy, establishing ethics, creating environmentally responsible pleasure products and distributing movies on virtual platforms through up-and-coming technology.

Sex just happens to be the content.

"The adult film industry has grown up and has become more sophisticated," said Diane Duke, executive director for the Free Speech Coalition, the trade association for the adult entertainment industry, based in the San Fernando Valley.

While webcams and mobile phones have made it easier for anyone to make porn, the porn industry is attracting tech giants to help improve the quality of the content and to expand into digital media. Discussions at XBIZ 360 are more likely to center on 4K television than on flesh and fantasy.

When she first began working with the adult film industry, Duke said much of the discussion was "here's a guy with a camera and a girl."

"What people need to know is this is a stable industry," Duke said. "But while we are more sophisticated, we do still have that stigma."

One panel discussion focused on the exploitation of counterfeit DVDs and sex toys and other pleasure products sold on eBay. Not only do those cheap versions ruin a business's reputation, but can be dangerous to a person's health if made with bad materials, participants said.

Peter Phinney, who said he was a Harvard-trained architect who became interested in trademark laws, created "Piracy Stops Now," a site to help business owners track those counterfeit products. But the trademark and infringement laws remain murky when it comes to erotica, and the adult film industry needs to come together to protect itself, he said.

He said his company charges $250 a month to help businesses find distributors who are earning money off of them.

"What we're experiencing on the content side is that piracy is really taking over," Phinney said. "We're continuing to fight that. We're at a point now where we can really make a difference, but still don't know exactly how."

Billed as the world's largest technology event geared toward those who work with X-rated content, the three-day conference is being held just as the adult film industry is facing a critical challenge to its presence in Los Angeles.

One of today's panel discussions, for example, will focus on porn and condoms, which became a heated issue after Measure B won voter approval in 2012. The Los Angeles County law requires adult film actors to use condoms while shooting intimate scenes, over the objections of the adult film industry, which has argued its own testing standards for sexually transmitted drugs works better. Speakers will include members of FilmL.A., the organization that coordinates permitting for the region.

"With that law in place, everyone is wondering, what will 2014 be like?" Duke said.

Sex educator Ashley Manta, who hosts an online show, said she attended XBIZ 360 because she wanted to know about all the latest in gadgets and toys, so that she can better inform her listeners.

She said she was impressed that producers of pleasure items, for example, are evolving into creating projects that are safer and less toxic.

"We're starting to see a change in attitude," she said. "People are realizing, it's not just what feels good, but what is good for your body."

She said that's an example of how the adult film industry responds to consumer demands.

"You don't see that kind of response with companies that make microwaves or dishwashers," she added.

The XBIZ 360 conference continues today and Friday. For more information, go to xbiz360.com. ___

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