New Spotlight on Piracy Profitmongers

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Netflix ads routinely adorn pirate websites

As I wrote in a post last week, my first impression of the new Mega is that it may not be the pirate mecca most thought it would be….at least not yet, due to the fact the site isn’t offering a “reward” program for its users.  Adrianne Jeffries wrote a piece published today on theverge.com entitled “Pirates Beware – Kim Dotcom’s Mega isn’t the pirate haven he says it is.” and comes to much the same conclusion.  She also points out that pirates have found new ways of making money:

While uploaders miss the rewards programs, they’ve also figured out how to make money by redirecting would-be downloaders to intermediate sites with ads. It works like this: the pirate uploads a bootlegged copy of Skyfall to Mega, Rapidshare, or one of the other file lockers. Then he or she creates a network of blogs on Blogspot and other free platforms, enticing others to download the movie for free. When the would-be downloader clicks the link, they’re routed through a revenue-sharing service like AdF.ly or another ad network. The downloaders are bombarded with ads, but eventually they get through to the actual movie. Everybody’s happy.

Jonathan Bailey also wrote a piece for his blog, Plagiarism Today, in which he traced recent efforts by anti-piracy activists (including my blog www.popuppirates.com) to bring attention to the connection between profit and piracy.  In his post “Stopping Piracy by Following the Money Trail” he also examines the ongoing question as to why legit companies seem to avoid responsibility for their ubiquitous ad placements on pirate websites.

The reason is ad laundering. When an ad for Netflix appears next to an infringing copy of a movie, Netflix can blame its ad agency, which can blame the online agency it subcontracted to, which can blame the ad network, which can blame the smaller ad network it subcontracted to which can then blame the site for lying or misleading them.

The Trichordist blog has also been roundly criticizing a number of high-profile U.S. corporations whose ads routinely appear on pirate music and movie sites.  This past week they proposed a way creative artists could speak out on Twitter:

As we suggested on our post, Over 50 Major Brands Supporting Music Piracy, It’s Big Business!the best way to start to effect positive change is to simply encourage like minded people to send a daily tweet to one of the brands on the list. A tweet a day to just one of these brands will create enough awareness to bring this issue to the attention of the brands themselves. There are over 50 brands, so that’s nearly two months of tweets just by doing one simple tweet a day.

By using the hashtag #StopArtistExploitation we can also easily help others find out about this problem and build support for artists rights online.

Bottom line, if we want to be successful in our fight against online piracy we have to follow the money.  I encourage those who create content for a living–artists, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, writers, and more–to speak out to #StopArtistExploitation.  It’s time our voices are heard.

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