There's plenty of piracy in the adult entertainment industry, some of which consumers might see as a good thing (free porn). But pornography performers and producers aren't the only ones to suffer financially from the rise of Internet piracy; another facet of the adult industry -- the sex toy market -- is experiencing similar troubles, but they don't just stop at the manufacturers' bottom line. Consumers' genitals are at risk.
As the Daily Dot reported earlier this week, sex toy counterfeiting could pose a grave threat to anyone who buys discounted dildos, vibrators, butt plugs or other fun paraphernalia online, as many of the products are falsely advertised as being something they're not. According to a statement by anti-porn piracy activist Peter Phinney in Xbiz, an adult industry trade publication, many sex toys are marketed under the same brand names as others, but sold for significantly lower prices -- sometimes more than 50 percent less.
That's because the cheaper products are actually knockoffs made by offshore manufacturers, mostly in China, where production standards differ from those of the American companies they're ripping off. Therein lies the issue, the Daily Dot points out:
This [difference in standards] leads sex toy counterfeiters to substitute materials in their products with potentially unsafe chemicals like melamine, a chemical that is approved by the FDA for manufacturing purposes, but not for human consumption. The counterfeit toys are often marketed under their original brand names and sold on large online retail sites like eBay and Amazon. While some of these sites are receptive to removing counterfeit items when a buyer points out they’re fake -- Phinney points out eBay as an example -- other retailers, like Amazon, are not as quick on the draw.
Obviously, American sex toy manufacturers are alarmed by the decline in revenue counterfeiting causes, but there's a much scarier repercussion to consider: the likelihood of inadvertently inflicting serious harm to one's private parts by using a knockoff product. Sex toy prices have skyrocketed in recent years, so it's not at all out of the question that a consumer could be duped into buying a subpar product -- especially listed under the same name as a luxury item for significantly cheaper.
For those people, especially those interested in buying BDSM products (a booming market), Phinney has some terrifying (but wise) words:
Forgive me for being blunt, but would you be interested in sticking electroshock cables up your ass or onto your privates if you knew they were made in China from sub-standard components and not UL listed for safety? ... You could save 70 percent buying a knock off electrostim set up, but I'm not recommending you do.