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“Our objective is actually rather banal. We want to create as many opportunities as possible for people to spend money.”
– FABIAN THYLMANN
from www.dailymail.co.uk – The owner of YouPorn faces charges of avoiding paying tax on the £60million his online sex empire is said to earn each year.
‘King of Porn’ Fabian Thylmann, 34, is being held in a police cell in Cologne, Germany, after he was extradited to his home country from Belgium, where he now lives.
Thylmann’s online porn video network includes seven of the world’s most popular adult sites – including YouPorn, Brazzers, PornHub and MyDirtyHobby – run under the auspices of industry-leading umbrella company Manwin.
Over the past decade, the reclusive computer programmer – nicknamed the The Ruler in the Realm of Lust by Germany’s Focus magazine – has revolutionised the business of pornography consumption.
His websites operate by the same principle as YouTube, allowing visitors – around 16 billion per month – to watch videos for free and generating income through advertising.
Sex ‘pay sites’ appear alongside and offer longer, full-length porn videos. Only a fraction are reported to use these, but this is sufficient to bring in revenues in excess of £60m each year.
The rise of YouPorn and similar free sex sites has crippled the traditional porn industry, which offers sex film cinemas, pornographic DVDs, magazines and sex shops.
Now, Thylmann has been accused of being a tax evader by Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, according to the Independent.
Die Welt claims that German porn actors who performed in videos in their owned country were paid by a subsidiary company in Cyprus.
Die Welt claims this form of remuneration is in flagrant breach of German tax laws – but Thylmann denies avoiding tax and maintains that he was merely minimising his tax burden in accordance with widely accepted practice.
His lawyers will now have to convince German state prosecutors that there is no case to answer.
Thylmann is not what you might expect from the owner of the world’s most successful porn sites. He is married with two children and graduated from Brussels’ international school after moving from the German city of Aachen to the Belgian city with his parents as a teenager.
After working as a computer programmer, he started Manwin, which now controls and largely dictates the terms of a booming global online sex-video market, including the content of individual films.
His breakthrough came in the late 1990s when he was still working as a programmer. Thylmann developed software called Nats (Next-generation affiliate tracking software), which linked up the vast number of internet pornography sites for the first time and enabled visitors to select sex films according to personal preference. ‘Nats was very easy to use and could do what the others couldn’t,’ Thylmann told Germany’s FT at a porn industry conference in Las Vegas last year.
‘Our objective is actually rather banal,’ he added. ‘We want to create as many opportunities as possible for people to spend money.’
In 2006 he secured a licence for the Playboy label, which gave him control of all of its television and online productions. YouPorn followed the same year. Its formula is to offer visitors free and unlimited viewing of videos drawn from a vast and constantly updated library of professional and ‘amateur’ sex films.
The company now employs a staff of 1,000 across the globe and has over 35 subsidiaries in Luxembourg, Canada, Cyprus, Germany, the US, Britain and Ireland.
Visitors to Manwin’s porn sites have to go through the motions of an age filter – they press a panel declaring that they are 18 or over before entering.
The variety of pornography available on the sites caters to almost every erotic predilection, fantasy and fetish. Thylmann’s sites show videos including German Lesbian Granny Sex Orgy or Mother-in-Law Seduces Shy Cleaner.
Thylmann said he was glad to be interviewed because it ‘cleared up rumours’ and ‘dispelled conspiracy theories’ concerning his identity, but he disappeared from view until his arrest last Tuesday.
Luxembourg-based Manwin, which also runs Playboy.com, filed a lawsuit in California last month to block a new .xxx domain.
It claimed that introducing the alternative suffix – which costs more than ten times the domain name fee charged by other registers – was the first step towards making it mandatory, meaning governments could easily censor by blocking access to all .xxx sites.
Manwin said it would not allow its content to be used on any sites with the suffix, with Thylmann saying: ‘We oppose the .xxx domain and all it stands for. It is my opinion that .xxx domain is an anti-competitive business practice that works a disservice to all companies that do business on the Internet.’
The domain names cost £38 per year from ICM Registry, and a one-off fee of £100 and £200.