Category Archives: File Sharing and Music

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)
mediapacket

digitalcitizensalliance-infographic

Postcards to Defend Copyright

We at UniqueTracks want to pass along this link to a very smart messaging program from copylike.org (Defend Copyright). These are online postcards displaying easy to understand statements about the damage to artists caused by piracy and file-sharing. The postcards can be sent directly from the copylike.org site.

See some examples below…

copylike.org_postcard_rightsandtheft

copylike.org_postcard_money

copylike.org_postcard_musicisfree

 

Spread the word at
http://copylike.org

Information Piracy and the Bottom Line

Internet piracy is a hot issue these days. As the amount of non-text media online grows, so does the amount of pirated media. But, just how much piracy is going on has largely remained a topic of speculation.

Until now.

Putting Hard Numbers to Online Piracy

A new study conducted by the British firm Envisional has shed new light on just how widespread the piracy problem is.

According to the study, in the United States alone, 17% of the content streaming, downloading, or otherwise being viewed via the internet is pirated material. That’s nearly one-fifth of all the content viewed by Americans.

To be clear, the study measured bandwidth usage. So, Envisional is not saying that 17% of the population in the United States is pirating copyrighted materials. However, it does show that a massive amount of piracy traffic is cutting into the bottom line of many companies in several industries.

The Magnitude of the Problem

If you own your own business, you can readily understand how devastating these numbers are. Imagine if, after paying for your employees’ benefits, covering workman’s comp insurance, paying business taxes, and shelling out for all the operating costs of your business, someone took 17% of your profits and walked out the door.

In fact, you don’t even have to own a business to understand how frustrating this situation is. If you’re a U.S. employee, you’re used to getting a pay check that’s missing a large chunk of the money you’ve worked hard to earn. As the old saying goes, “Who’s FICA and why is he getting all my money.”

Take another 17% off that and imagine how happy you would be.

The Good News

There is a bright side to the Envisional study. It shows a growing online market for a variety of new media. The interest is there, if we can find a way to control widespread piracy, it will open new doors for legitimate businesses to not only make money but provide additional jobs, which, in this economy, would be a welcome sight.

You can read the full Envisional report here.

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.