Tag Archives: p2p

Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business

In 2013, Digital Citizens Alliance set out to understand how content thieves operate and profit from the works of others. In an effort to determine how much bad actors earn through advertising, Digital Citizens commissioned MediaLink LLC to undertake a research project focused on the ecosystem’s revenues and profitability.

The findings, published in the report “Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business” show that these sites are making incredible profits off of the works of others.

The highlights include:
• Content theft sites reaped an estimated quarter of a billion dollars in ad revenue alone in 2013.
• The 30 largest sites that make revenue exclusively through ads averaged $4.4 million in 2013.
• The most heavily trafficked BitTorrent and P2P sites, which rely exclusively on advertising revenue, averaged a projected $6 million per year in 2013.
• 30% of the most heavily trafficked content theft sites carried premium brand advertising and 40% carried secondary brand advertising
• The sites studied in the sample had a estimated profit margin of 80-94%.
This presentation includes screenshots from many of the sites reviewed by MediaLink.

Download Digital Citizens Alliance Report

Download More information (Media Packet)
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Independent Filmmaker fights online piracy

I have noticed recently that, when one reads the comments from folks who participate in online piracy, their language is often filled with a kind of virtuous, take-from-the-rich Robin Hood-ism, where piracy is actually seen as the moral high-ground. Pirates are merely taking from overly rich global corporations that, in the case of music at least, are exploiting their artists anyway. The premise seems to be that piracy is good because it is fighting the good fight against fat, capitalist, power-brokers who are out there bilking the consumer.

Though this position is, I’m sure, both convenient and beneficial, it is also incorrect, as the following account of an independent filmmaker’s piracy travails will show.

Filmmaker Ellen Seidler and her partner poured $250,000 into their independent film, And Then Came Lola. The movie saw a good deal of success early on. Unfortunately, much of that success was achieved by content thieves.

Within 24 hours of the release of the DVD of “And Then Came Lola,” digital pirates had ripped the DVD and uploaded it to an internet distribution site where it was distributed for free download. Supported largely by AdSense ads, the site immediately began earning money off the movie.

Despite the fact that Google has a very strict policy against copyright infringement, they also apparently have an unwritten see no evil, hear no evil policy as Google’s AdSense ads are a recurring theme on sites that are pirating music and movies. Google claims that they cannot possibly root out every site that’s pirating copyrighted material and shut down their AdSense ads. Still, the frequency with which AdSense appears on sites completely dedicated to piracy, indicates that Google gives a cursory initial glance at a site before authorizing the site for AdSense and then never looks back.

And, Google isn’t the only advertiser that turns a blind eye to piracy issues. A number of major corporations (Walmart) continue to allow their ads to run on pirate sites.

So, Ellen decided to take matters into her own hands. She started filing take-down notices with every site she could find that was illegally distributing “And Then Came Lola.” Unfortunately, the task quickly became an overwhelming one.

Thousands of cyber lockers already offered her film for free download. Many of the sites have simply ignored her take-down requests. Several have complied with the take-down requests as they are afraid of having their entire site shut down (see End of 2010 sees crackdown on copyright infringement and online piracy), but many just don’t seem to care.

Add to this the fact that for every download link Ellen has disabled several more pop up. So, it seems that most of Ellen’s requests simply sail across the bow of pirate sites and fall harmlessly into the water.

In the end, Ellen (and all independent filmmakers) will need someone with some economic muscle to gather their navy and set sail against the digital pirates of the world. It doesn’t appear that will happen soon (read more on NPR or hear the story directly from Ellen), but independent filmmakers like Ellen Seidler have little choice other than to remain hopeful.

Year end sees crackdown on copyright infringement and online piracy

Here are 4 events that show what looks like a growing trend towards taking serious action against copyright infringement on the Internet.

1. LimeWire, the company that issued the popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software program is closing it’s doors
. LimeWire tried to retool as a legal music site similar to iTunes after the demise of its P2P service, but the company is now abandoning that effort and closing its doors for good on December 31, 2011. Last October a court-ordered injunction forced LimWire to disable ‘the searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality, and/or all functionality; of it’s P2P file-sharing software,” the company said at the time.

2. In Sweden, the convictions of Pirate Bay founders are upheld on appeal
According to the Los Angeles Times, The Pirate Bay is “one of the world’s largest facilitators of illegal downloading“, and “the most visible member of a burgeoning international anti-copyright or pro-piracy movement”. The Pirate Bay website still exists. It has over 4.5 million registered users and is approximately the 89th most popular site on the Internet worldwide. In 2009, it’s founders were found guilty of assisting copyright infringement. The ruling was appealed. In November 2010 the convictions were upheld by a Swedish appeals court. They decreased the original prison terms but increased the fine to 46 million SEK (about 6.6 million dollars).

3. US Seizes 80+ Torrent and P2P web sites
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (a division of Homeland Security) has seized the web addresses of torrent-finder.com and about 80 other websites for copyright violation. The sites have been sharing copyrighted material for free download. The New York Times reported “By Friday morning, visiting the addresses of a handful of sites that either hosted unauthorized copies of films and music or allowed users to search for them elsewhere on the Internet produced a notice that said, in part: “This domain name has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”

4. Google Upgrades it’s Copyright Infringement policy
A week after the US government’s torrent crackdown, Google issued its own policy changes regarding copyright infringement.

As the web has grown, we have seen a growing number of issues relating to infringing content. We respond expeditiously to requests to remove such content from our services, and have been improving our procedures over time. But as the web grows, and the number of requests grows with it, we are working to develop new ways to better address the underlying problem.

There are four key changes that will have some impact on how they handle copyright-questionable submissions.
1. Google will be trying to take action on takedown request within 24 hours of submission
2. They will prevent terms associated with piracy from showing up in the autocomplete feature of searches
3. They plan to improve AdSense anti-piracy efforts
4. They’ll look for ways to make authorized content more likely to show up in searches