Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

Summary: What would you do if someone said you could make money online by selling pirated content, with no risk or penalty? So far, that's exactly what these sites are doing...

SHARE:
Piracy. It's an all-too-familiar topic that has been beaten into the ground such that it doesn't really faze anyone anymore. In fact, it's something we're so familiar with, that it has become a regular part of many of our lives -- despite examples having been made along the way of your everyday Joe/Jill. The days of file-sharing services like Napster and Kazaa are long-gone while torrents reign supreme, but there's a completely different method of piracy that has been running steadily for years and turning a sizable profit all the while: file-hosting and link-sharing Web sites. The combination of these two types of sites is like a one-two punch resulting in a knockout. They are both essential for one another to function in such a profitable manner, and man, oh, man, do they ever make a lot of money doing what they do. The specific monetization methods for each service/site differ, but they all consist of some combination of the following: File-hosting Web sites: These are sites like RapidShare, FileServe, FileSonic, Hotfile, Megaupload, etc. If you've never heard of them, they're basically Web sites that allow you to upload files to them so that you can share them with others. In a world without piracy, the types of files one might upload would be documents to share with coworkers, videos to share with others, etc. But this isn't a world without piracy, so what people tend to upload is -- you guessed it -- pirated content. Now, all of these sites allow you to download files from them for free, but there's typically a wait or some sort of inconvenience. And how do you make that go away? By becoming a paid member of the site: "FASTER DOWNLOADS! UNLIMITED PARALLEL DOWNLOADS! DOWNLOAD FILES LARGER THAN 1GB!" The list goes on. Now, it's important to clarify that, for many these days, piracy is about far more than just getting something for free; it's about getting something for free as quickly and conveniently as possible. It's not enough to get something for free. They need it ASAP, too. So, here you have file-hosting sites making money off of people who pay them per-month (or whatever payment tier they choose) to have something like unlimited, unthrottled access to files. And for those who don't pay, they get to look at ads while waiting to download. Now all that's needed is a way to find the files you're interested in on these sites, right? I mean, is it just a coincidence that NONE of these file-hosting sites (well, none of the ones I've seen, anyway) have built-in search functionality? I think not. Link-sharing Web sites: Provisioning for the lack of built-in search functionality on file-hosting Web sites is the multitude of link-sharing Web sites: communities and forums that exist for people to share links to uploaded content with others. Sites like ReleaseLog and AvaxHome, to be exact. (To note, I don't recommend searching for them and visiting them unless you have some sort of ad-blocking functionality enabled in your browser.) While they provide daily doses of fresh, new links to the latest software, movies, music, adult content, and more, they actually make money from the whole process via ads. And before you automatically assume the amount of money made must be a trivial amount, think again. I personally know an individual who earns an easy $3,000 a month running one of these types of sites. While that's not breaking the bank, it's also more than a lot of people make per month with their full-time job, so consider that. Come to think of it, how ludicrous of an idea is it to suggest to companies like Microsoft and Adobe to secretly form and grow a similar community, then distribute monies earned evenly to at least get in on some sort of earnings on pirated content of theirs? That's actually pretty ridiculous, but I thought I was onto something clever for a second there. Nope. Back to file-hosting Web sites, new ones are coming out almost daily and link-sharing Web sites tend to individually pick two or three to always use. But what happens when you want to download files from, say, six different file-hosting sites? You leverage services like FilePunch. Basically, you sign up with them and, through them, you can download from multiple file-hosting sites as though you're a member of each of them individually. But wait, it gets better! Since it's far too easy to find yourself downloading hundreds of gigs worth of work-related files (*cough, cough*) from multiple file-hosting sites, wouldn't it be nice to have a download manager to use? JDownloader, to the rescue! Programs like JDownloader allow you to fill in your credentials for just about every file-hosting Web site under the sun and manage downloads at the same time. JDownloader even recognizes the CAPTCHAs required by certain file-hosting sites when downloading files for free. Awesome Ridiculous, isn't it? And last but not least, let's not forget about the search engines out there that exist solely to index links from file-hosting Web sites. Such search engines are FilesTube, FileCrop, and RapidLibrary, to name a few. They, too, typically leverage ad-based models of monetization. And if you had any doubt about what people are using them to search for, just take a look at some of the "recent searches" most of these search engines show at the bottom of their home page. I see no sign of "yearly TPS report archive" or "freelance artist's free uploaded works." Do you? So, there you have it. As you can see, there's an entire ecosystem thriving with just this one particular method of piracy (or "content distribution," as I'm sure they would prefer it to be called). It's fast, it's efficient, and it's incredibly profitable for those involved. These are the modern day profiteers of piracy who make a quick and easy buck off of the losses of content owners whose otherwise for-cost products are being made easily available to the masses for free (kind of). -Stephen Chapman
SEO Whistleblower
Related Content:

Topics: Piracy, Enterprise Software, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

36 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

    Following your logic, also ZDnet is making money off pirated content every time it writes about leaked Windows builds and such. Hey, even with this article is ZDnet and you making money off pirated content, since you're attracting visitors by actually writing about pirated content, referring to pirated content and also by mentioning several sites and groups you accuse of pirating - and your article has ads all over the place. Right?

    Obviously not everything in the world is black and white. Especially in the world of internet, where even if you wanted to, wouldn't know in most cases what rules and laws you have to follow - because you know there's actually more than just one country in the world, all with different laws and norms. Even though I know, for you, as an american, that's not that easy to comprehend.
    ff2
    • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

      @ff2 Wrong. That doesn't follow my logic at all. You don't come to ZDNet to download or search for pirated content. The correlation you're making of ads on ZDNet and an article about pirated content is not the same as ads running on a community site whose sole existence is to distribute links to pirated content.

      And I'm sorry, but your second paragraph is just lazy thinking -- especially the part where you show your hatred of Americans. Before you attempt to lecture someone, why not try using something more than weak generalizations with which to make baseless accusations? Pirated content doesn't become "unpirated" or "legal" simply because you live in a country that doesn't observe a set of laws that otherwise protects content/IP. Interested in learning the laws you have to follow? Google's a great place to start.

      -Stephen
      StephenChapman
      • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

        @StephenChapman <br><br>Here in the EU, after lots of intense lobbying by Media Cartels the copyright law on voice recording has changed from 50 to 70 years to protect 1960's recordings. Very little (if any !) of the royalties will go artists and this change has cost EU citizens 1bn euros. <br><br>Until the legal balance (and financial) is more redressed in favour of the consumer then piracy is a consequence of a legislated perpetual artificial monopoly. I would like to see copyright brought more in line with the length of patents ie 20 years. If you can't more than recover your costs and make a good profit in 20 years then tough, your rubbish at business, lazy and fail to innovate.
        Alan Smithie
      • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

        @Alan Smithie - I agree with you, but just to clarify, I didn't write this post to praise, defend, or admonish piracy. I've a feeling that's what most people will end up chiming in with, though. :)

        -Stephen
        StephenChapman
      • Re: You don't come to ZDNet to download or search for pirated content.

        @StephenChapman We most certainly can. You yourself have given us a list of <B>direct links</B> to places where we can look for pirated content. Are you or are you not making money by posting that list?
        ldo17
  • Blows whistle

    Explicit coverage of piracy has no place on ZDNET if you wish to be a thoroughly respectable site: as things stand you help your colleagues join the gutterpress.<br><br>"That doesn't follow my logic at all. You don't come to ZDNet to download or search for pirated content."<br>Indeed not, so why do you shove it down my throat? Why do you list specific sites, techniques and enhancements? Do you not understand the concept of viral marketing? Do you not realise MR 'expert' SEO that those who searched for piracy would now land at ZDNET? And enjoy reading your very helpful user-guide!<br><br>Ah, the same old nudge-nudge, wink-wink schoolboy cameraderie; the same old rationalisations; the same old pseudo-respectability.<br><br>"Piracy. Its an all-too-familiar topic that has been beaten into the ground such that it doesnt really phase anyone anymore."<br>ZDNET is complicit in this process: you might recognise the word in another context -narcosis - the slow draining of morality and reason.<br><br>So I ask you the same questions as your predecessor gutterpress merchants:<br><br>1. Have you anything interesting to propose wrt to new business models (or whatever) to help solve the problem?<br><br>2. Can you provide similar location information for my other vices?<br><br>You are in fact a META-pirate: no, you don't do the deed; you just point explicitly to how to do the deed.

    The whistle blown on the whistleblower.
    jacksonjohn
    • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

      @johnfenjackson@... "The whistle blown on the whistleblower."

      Don't hurt yourself too much, there, now! lol.

      Look, I appreciate the fervor with which you have written your reply, but this article is far from what you seem to think it is. Don't misconstrue thoroughness with the intent to shove information down your throat. At that, no one forced you to read the piece.

      Go search Google for "piracy" and tell me what you get. And even if you did see this article, you're assuming that someone searching for "piracy" had the intentions you seem to think they would. By your logic, we should just remain completely silent about the topic since any and all specifics must surely mean we have intentions to contribute to a problem, not expose it.

      I can't stop you from perceiving this article how you have, and there may well be a handful of people who somehow find their way here and go be morally/ethically reckless because of it. But that's their choice.

      I'm not going to remain silent about a relevant, pervasive topic when I have a unique point to present on it -- no matter how it may be perceived and critiqued.

      -Stephen
      StephenChapman
      • Blocking my perception

        @StephenChapman

        "Don't misconstrue thoroughness with the intent to shove information down your throat."
        I have construed a list of ways in which I could pirate Windows, splash screens from pirate sites and your excellent user guide on cyberlockers ... as typical gutter press tactics. Standard fare: pander to the allure of the dark side for page hits.

        "At that, no one forced you to read the piece."
        I read most ZDNET articles ... not for the typical sensationalist dross ... but for the small proportion of gems. This is a far more efficient technique than ...

        'Go search Google for "piracy"'
        No thanks. Is that the best SEO advice you've got? I prefer to come to reputable sites.

        "you're assuming that someone searching for "piracy" had the intentions you seem to think they would."
        If you are suggesting that even a narrow majority of those who search thus are actively engaged in EXPOSING or SOLVING the problem ... then we part company again.

        "By your logic, we should just remain completely silent about the topic"
        You missed the very first word of my rebuttal : EXPLICIT. I have no objection to you highlighting the problem on ZDNET ... but there is a whole world of difference between e.g. highlighting paedophiles and listing the sites containing their material; highlighting drugs problems and listing the contact details of local dealers; highlighting prostitution problems and listing the addresses of pimps or 'gentlemans clubs'. The mistake you make is one of failing to recognise the transition from physical to abstract: you have provided the raw (digital ) address for unlawful activities!

        "But that's their choice."
        If you hadn't provided the list of links ... then there would be nothing to follow i.e. no choice, precluding a bad one.
        Americans are provided the choice of buying firearms, leading to ... a problem we don't have in the UK.

        "I'm not going to remain silent about a relevant, pervasive topic when I have a unique point to present on it."
        UNIQUE? What was unique about it? I found it derivative. OK, OK, it's the best guide to cyberlocker piracy I've read ... but that doesn't float my boat (float my boat, get it?). And I will not be extending my reading habits or search techniques to include the methods you suggest.
        jacksonjohn
    • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

      @johnfenjackson@... That's an old argument, repudiated long ago. It isn't the press creating the situation to break the law, it is the pirates, period. Nor is it the responsibility of the press to solve the problem. Their job is to expose and educate, which this article has done. The fact that the article points out specifics gives it credibility that would otherwise be lacking, causing readers to take it more seriously and be moved to action.
      terry flores
    • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

      @johnfenjackson@... <b>"That doesn't follow my logic at all. You don't come to ZDNet to download or search for pirated content."<br>Indeed not, so why do you shove it down my throat?</b><br><br>Here's a question for you - you say he "shoved this article down your throat" but the question is did he force you to read it? Did he sit down beside you with a gun pointed at your head telling you to read this article or he'd shoot you? No? Well then the headline is a dead giveaway as to what this article is about and if the subject offends you so much then why didn't you just bypass it?<br><br>As for the subject matter sites like RapidShare and metaupload have been around for years - they do have legitimate (i.e. legal) downloads such as game patches and large mods to games... that they are used to host or distribute pirated software is unfortunate.<br><br>With all of you "righteous" outrage I have to wonder if you are upset because he posted what you allege is a "how to guide" to pirate software of that he listed the names of sites that host pirated software and are afraid that those sites will be investigated and shut down closing off your source of such downloads.
      athynz
      • Offensive

        @Pete "athynz" Athens
        "If the subject offends you so much then why didn't you just bypass it?"
        I don't want to bypass it ... maybe you got a clue from the fact that I have posted more comments than even the original author ... that I don't want to bypass it?
        However I don't think the right way to tackle the problem of paedophilia is by listing the sites from where you may download pictures. [You understand my points about meta-piracy and viral marketing, right?]

        "With all of your "righteous" outrage I have to wonder if you are upset because he posted what you allege is a "how to guide" to pirate software of that he listed the names of sites that host pirated software and are afraid that those sites will be investigated and shut down closing off your source of such downloads."
        Ah yes, the double bluff!
        But no.
        I want an end to the cyberwar.
        I see no essential difference between the unlawful activities of M$ and INTEL who have been fined billions by Governments for monopoly tactics ... and the outright thieving of pirates. Both types of operation are wrong and we need a BALANCED CIVILISED 21st century technology solution.
        We need a new business model for digital wares, a new copyright law and a bit of give-and-take from all participants. Saying "here's where you can break one side of the law" is unhelpful and smacks of media sensationalism.

        Let me also say that in the event that both Apple and M$ succeed in introducing their 30 % tax on digital wares ... for material they have not authored ... then I will be examining my conscience.
        jacksonjohn
    • I see your point

      @johnfenjackson@... At the same time, when do we start calling-out that criminals? Here in Toronto, things get ignored for years until the local press get their hands on it and make it a hot topic. The sad thing here, as has been noted in earlier posts, is that it is the "legal" criminals calling extortion "laws" that need to be addressed. As the psedo-expert on BBC said (paraphrase), "..governments don't run the country anymore, Goldman Sachs does..."
      happyharry_z
    • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

      @johnfenjackson@...
      The public may not have known what the messages meant, but it helped pay for them. The skywriting stunt was supported by city and state public funding, according to the High Line's website. <a href="http://www.mtsconverter.it">MTS Convertitore</a> "I wanted a narrative trajectory towards something optimistic at the end, which was the last message, 'Now Open,'" she said of the work. <a href="http://www.mtsconverter.it/mts-converter-for-mac.htm">MTS Convertitore Mac</a>
      Edward1314
  • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

    Thanks Stephen, I think the perception is that when an individual pirates,it's insignificant or there's no monetary loss. I think it's important to be honest about the huge amount of money being made, none of which goes to the creators. Mayby that will somewhat counter the tired old pro-piracy attitudes.
    JeffMcClintock
  • Illegal Sites?

    Seems to me that the only way these sites can get away with storing and selling access to pirated material, is if they are located in foreign countries that have little or no law enforcement. So I am not sure if providing ones credit card number to these sites oversees and out of reach of the law, is a good idea.
    databaseben
    • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

      @databaseben@...
      I agree with the basis of your comment but just because another country has a different interpretation of law to the USA does not mean "little or no law enforcement" exists there.
      Look at the mess that patent law is in in the US compared to the EU as an example. If we took the view that the law and legal system of the most powerful, most populous country should prevail we'd all be living under a Chinese system.
      Dansy1
  • This is INOFRMATION, not a HOW-TO

    I appreciate this article, because it sheds some light on how piracy has emerged into a profitable business.<br><br>I gained some knowledge from this article - knowledge that I wouldn't chance finding in a Google serach using the term "pirate software downloads".<br><br>The point is, people looking for free software haven't learned anything from this article. Their searches for free software already turn up links to the places listed.<br><br>Expose these operations so EVERYONE knows about them. The more exposed these pirating operations become, and the more info we have regarding their MO, the better we can protect the works of the legitimate software vendors.<br><br>That's my view.
    WozNotWoz
  • It's Like Accusing Car Companies Of Making Money From Crime ...

    ... just because their vehicles can be used as getaway vehicles from robberies.
    ldo17
    • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

      @ldo17 ... and posting the best places to rob.
      radleym
  • RE: Make money online by selling pirated content? These sites do.

    I was waiting for someone to write about this finally..


    And one more thing that you missed to mention is that 80. % of the links are just fake which really irritating. They make money out of nothing,,,


    ExAmple. When I search for windows 9 iso download in google. We all know they is nothing called windows 9, however Sites like filestube create a link out of my search and just show you 1000 results to your search. Hot stuff like Dowload windows 9 iso full or torret windows 9 iso and so on

    Funny that the code they are using is simply reading the get parameter from the URL and generate the page accordingly so if I change the URL to download Hussein nasser it will generate a new page with download Hussein nasser full version,,


    Not that I download pirated stuff :p
    HusseinNasser