If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Some cyberlocker websites that offer file storage, do (eventually) respond to DMCA takedown notices, but in an ironic final twist, a fair number of them have found a way to use copyright violation notifications to their advantage–monetizing requests via pop-up ads.
Examples are easy to find. Today I went to a notorious download site that offers download/streaming links to any number of popular (recent) films. I chose to find links for the Oscar-nominated “Silver Linings Playbook.” If you look at the column on the left, you’ll see more than 2 dozen links to view and/or download the film. I did not check them all, and imagine some have already been removed by studio anti-piracy efforts.
For purposes of this piece, I chose a link hosted on a site called “Faststream.in” When I clicked the link I arrived at a splash page that offered a stream of the film. I could click the button “proceed to video” be bombarded with ads before watching the film. However, what happens when the rights holder wants to send a DMCA notice to the site? On this site there’s no DMCA option provided, only a “contact” link. Click that and (cha-ching) a pop-up ad appears. To access the actual contact page, you have to close the ad.
I’ve come across many sites that utilize the same setup. I suppose that if a site is going to lose its carrot to attract ad clicks, operators may as well make some money in the process. Aside from earning cash from clicks, this cumbersome procedure also makes sending a legit DMCA notice a time-consuming, and thus expensive, proposition. I checked the U.S. Copyright Office list of designated agents to determine if this site had registered one. No listing was found, so using this contact page–for each and every takedown request– appears to be the only way to contact the site to send a takedown notice. No wonder the movie is still online.
I checked the WHOIS information to see if their was any contact information and found that the domain was registered by a Jeremiah Haselberg of PiratePoint.Ltd. in Canada. At least he’s honest about the nature of his entrepreneurial activities eh? Or maybe he’s just named his company after a favored vacation spot, Pirates Point Resort in the Caymen Islands….a “safe harbor” in more ways than one.
Aside from making money off DMCA takedown requests, this site is follows the traditional cyberlocker pirate business model, incentivizing infringing uploads with cash rewards.
It’s bad enough that rights holders have to police these sites to safeguard their work, but adding to their coffers in the process only adds insult to injury. Such is the nature of online piracy today.