Mobile

BigStar brings porn to the iPhone, but for how long?

Updated with comment from BigStarLooks like Steve Jobs hasn’t been entirely successful in his campaign to keep porn off the iPhone.

There’s a new application called BigStar Movies You Demand that allows users to watch a wide (if rather random) selection of movies on their iPhone and iPad app for the super-low price of $4.99 a month after a 30-day free trial. But here’s the really eye-catching thing about it: It includes pornographic movies.

If you go to the BigStar.tv site, you’ll see that it highlights plenty of non-pornographic content, but once you scroll down to the “most watched” section it’s dominated by titles like Bad Ass Bitches and Anna Nicole Smith Exposed. That seems like it would be a problem for Apple, given chief executive Steve Jobs’ statement that the iPad provides “freedom from porn”. When I asked BigStar about it, a spokesperson responded:

As far as adult content is concerned, they are not available via the app – the $4.99 subscription doesn’t include it — but those films can be accessed and played via the web HTML 5 video player and Safari on both the iPhone and iPad. It’s not ideal — and maybe not worth mentioning — but that’s how one can work around it.

Makes sense, I guess. But then I downloaded the app (I had to confirm that I was 18 to do so), and there was Anna Nicole Smith again, still exposed. I didn’t watch enough to say exactly how explicit the movies were (and I’m sure that will prompt at least one “that’s not porn!” comment), but I watched enough to know that, yes, there is female nudity, and, yes, you will see boobs.

To be clear, I think the anti-porn policy, like many things about the App Store approval process, is silly, and I have no problem with what BigStar is doing. (And since they told me the adult stuff had been removed, I assume it’s a weird oversight.) I just think it’s interesting that some of this stuff is still slipping by Apple. Of course, Apple will eventually catch on and remove the app, unless BigStar figures out a way to get rid of the porn first. In the meantime, you can download it here.

And hey, once the porn is gone, the app still offers streaming movies, plus social recommendation features, for $4.99 a month. The service works on Android, Google TV, webOS devices, the Roku device, and more.

BigStar is self-funded and based in Miami.

Update: As I predicted, some of our commenters have argued that the movies aren’t porn — one of them points out that the two movies I’ve mentioned are rated R. But I think they meet the definition of softcore pornography, and that Apple has booted apps for less explicit content in the past. There’s a reason why the Playboy app doesn’t have any nudity. And there’s a reason why BigStar said the content had been removed from the app.

And BigStar has responded too:

We suppose that “porn” is in the eye of the beholder, but the definition so salaciously used in today’s VentureBeat article “BigStar brings porn to the iPhone, but for how long?” is so loose (any nudity, including flashes of a naked breast) that at least one-third of the current films in suburban multiplexes would have to be labeled porn. The MPAA is pretty clear that it considers porn NC-17. All of the films you mentioned in your article are rated R. Compare this to Netflix, which offers “Teenage Catgirls in Heat” (NR), “Caligula” (NR) and “Last Tango in Paris” (NC-17) or even to Hulu+, which offers the extremely bare-breasted “Red Shoes Diaries” and other late-night fare. While we appreciate the attention in BigStar’s offerings, we believe it’s not fair to call any of our offerings porn – unless you also classify the late-night fare of Netflix, Hulu, HBO/Cinemax and many other vendors as being in the same camp. As such, we are in full compliance with Apple’s terms of service.


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