A celebrity sex tape is typically an amateur pornographic video recording involving one or more celebrity famous person(s) which has, intentionally or unintentionally, been made available publicly. Such video tapes are often released without the consent of their subjects, and could potentially damage celebrities' careers. In 1988, a sex tape caused significant damage to Rob Lowe's career. In recent years, however, many celebrities have benefited from the publicity resulting from the release of a sex tape. The release of Paris Hilton's sex tape in 2003 as well as Kim Kardashian's sex tape in 2007 brought them to a new level of fame, leading to magazine covers, book deals, and reality TV series.
The surfacing of sex tapes has become so common that some are "leaked" as a marketing tool to advance or establish a media career. A celebrity can fight the release in court to maintain deniability while still enjoying the career benefits. In contrast, a celebrity may take the route of openly releasing the tape and benefit directly from royalties as well as indirectly from the publicity. The current public acceptance of celebrities with sex tapes is speculated by Joe Levy, executive editor of Rolling Stone, to be due to the easy availability of pornography, as well as couples more commonly making their own tapes due to the prevalence of video cameras