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posted by Dopefish on Friday February 21 2014, @01:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the mpaa-and-riaa-can't-touch-this dept.

Fluffeh writes:

"The Digital Citizens Alliance has posted a new report estimating that the 'top warez/pirate sites' generate $227 million dollars in ad revenue each year in which a portion of the cash comes from businesses such as Amazon, McDonalds and Xfinity.

TorrentFreak has an interesting write-up on the report going through the numbers nicely and breaking it down. Based on an estimate of the operating costs, torrent sites are also believed to be the most profitable, with profit margins up to 94.1%. It has to be noted, however, that ad revenue is often the only source of income for torrent sites, where direct download hubs and streaming sites have secondary revenue streams through subscriptions and affiliate deals."

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by BradTheGeek on Friday February 21 2014, @01:33PM

    by BradTheGeek (450) on Friday February 21 2014, @01:33PM (#4277)

    ...comes from malware and adware vendors with popovers and pop-unders that emulate flash/chrome/other app du jour update screens.

    I work in a PC repair shop and I cannot count the number of infected machines that come in and it all started from, "I installed an update so I could download Game of Thrones".

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by TheloniousToady on Friday February 21 2014, @02:08PM

      by TheloniousToady (820) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:08PM (#4297)

      I guess that proves once again that there's no such thing as a free launch.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @04:20PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @04:20PM (#4398) Homepage Journal

        Amusing, but like the old saying you're parodying, incorrect. I have a fruit tree in my front yard, free fruit for everyone! Also, the launch of my book site (the site I p1mp my book) had a free launch, and the book itself is free if you prefer electrons to cellulose.

        Oh, and "money doesn't grow on trees"? Tell that to someone who earned his millions from his orchards. Money also grows in fields, there are millions of dollars in Illinois fields every summer (mostly corn and soybeans).

        Never trust an old saying! What goes up must come down? How about the Voyagers, or the Martian robots or the junk the astronauts left on the moon? They're not coming down!

        Never blindly trust old "wisdom". Sometimes foolishnes disguises itself as wisdom.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 1) by naubol on Friday February 21 2014, @05:23PM

          by naubol (1918) on Friday February 21 2014, @05:23PM (#4426)

          John Locke's opening comments about why we should have property begin with "it takes effort to pick fruit".

          • (Score: 4, Insightful) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @06:17PM

            by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @06:17PM (#4444) Homepage Journal

            Heh, I never held him in much regard. It takes far less effort to reach up and grab a piece of low-hanging fruit from a tree than it does to grab a piece of fruit from the bin at the grocery store and then walk to the register, get out your cash/card, and pay. It takes no more effort for me to reach up and grab that fruit than it does for someone to take it from my hand as a gift.

            "Free" means "gratis", a price of zero. If they're giving hamburgers away at McDonalds, it takes gasoline to get there but the burger is free.

            What "there's no such thing as a free lunch" refers to accurately is "never trust a salesman". If a salesman offers you a free lunch, you'll wind up as his customer if he's any good.

            --
            Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
            • (Score: 1, Funny) by davester666 on Friday February 21 2014, @07:04PM

              by davester666 (155) on Friday February 21 2014, @07:04PM (#4466)

              Or you will wake up the next morning wondering how you wound up in an alley, where your wallet is, and why your ass is sore.

            • (Score: 1) by naubol on Friday February 21 2014, @09:19PM

              by naubol (1918) on Friday February 21 2014, @09:19PM (#4553)

              You have to find the fruit tree, you have to walk to it, you have to possibly fight other animals (ie other people) for it, you have to inspect it for quality (fruit in the wild can go bad, can be eaten out by worms, etc), and you have to wait for it to be in season. With the grocery store, I am reasonably certain the fruit will be there when I get there, and there is no sense of indecision or insecurity about this. If you know where the fruit tree is because you planted it there, cultivated it, and tended it, it isn't wild and it took effort to put it there.

              If this all sounds like so much hair splitting, it isn't. The point is a consistent, quality food supply that is easy to get doesn't grow on trees. The spirit of the argument is still there.

              It is kinda specious to point out the environmental downsides of the grocery store but not wild fruit.

              I agree with your point about salesmen though.

              • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @09:34PM

                by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @09:34PM (#4561) Homepage Journal

                No. I'm referring to a tree in my own front yard, a tree I control but did not have to buy. I do not have to fight over the fruit... well, the squirrels did beat me to most of the fruit last year but it didn't cost me anything, not even effort.

                --
                Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
                • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @10:00PM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @10:00PM (#4570)

                  Well that depends; how literal do you want to get with it? What is "cost"? if you are talking about monetary cost, sure there are plenty of free things out there. If you wish to count time as money, then no even the fruit you pick up in your yard isn't free. Do you sell the fruit? if so then you have now LOST money because that was potential profit.

                  I understand what you are getting at, but you tried to invalidate the idea that there is no "free lunch", which is simply not entirely true.

                  In this instance (someone "installing an update" to watch GoT) the cost was a lesson learned and cost of a computer repairman to fix their machine. Also, probably some embarrassment.

                  We just need to define our terms.

                • (Score: 1) by naubol on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:59PM

                  by naubol (1918) on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:59PM (#4887)

                  Because of property, guess you had to buy the property, eh? Guess you had to work for that money, unless you're in finance.

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @05:54PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @05:54PM (#4436)

          Sure that works great if you want to jump from figurative and literal where it suits you.

          You side stepped the entire point of the phrase, and then said it was wrong. Your website that you pimp your book out on isn't free, someone has to pay for it somewhere. And if you aren't paying for the hosting yourself, then you are on a shared server; when that shared server gets hacked, you pay for it with a lesson that you should have bought your own host. Those tree that bare fruit used chemicals in the earth to eventually create something, that wasn't free. You likely water that tree, which isn't free. You also have to walk out and collect the fruit, again not free.

          Money doesn't grow on trees, things you can sell do. If you let your fields grow vegetables, but never sell them you didn't grow money. The effort you put into yielding those crops and selling them is where you make your money.

          So maybe those old adages are more correct then you think.

          (My significant other has a degree in philosophy, she would be upset if I didn't chime in here)

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Keldrin on Friday February 21 2014, @02:09PM

      by Keldrin (773) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:09PM (#4298) Journal

      Not to mention the myriad of ads that link to exploit kits like blackhole [wikipedia.org]. Some of that malware steals online banking credentials... I wonder if they count that in the definition of "revenue". :p

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Friday February 21 2014, @01:47PM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday February 21 2014, @01:47PM (#4285)

    WTF is a "pirate site?" Is it like radio piracy, where someone is broadcasting on an unlicensed frequency? Kidnapping and extortion like the Somali pirates? Sites with pictures of hot chicks in slutty pirate costumes (where ninjas go for guilty pleasures)?

    My point is that the word "pirate" has been abused to the point where it's lost its meaning. It's a buzzword, and a pejorative one at that. As nerds, I think we can do better, and choose words that actually describe what we're talking about.

    --
    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by monster on Friday February 21 2014, @02:19PM

      by monster (1260) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:19PM (#4305) Journal

      The Oxford Dictionary, in a few years...

      Pirate (noun):
          1 Somebody considered to be involved in criminal activities.
          2 Those people. (See Terrorist and Whistleblower)

      </grin>

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by cockroach on Friday February 21 2014, @02:25PM

      by cockroach (2266) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:25PM (#4311)

      My point is that the word "pirate" has been abused to the point where it's lost its meaning

      Personally I wear the "pirate" label with pride. After all it has been used to refer to people who simply want some very basic freedom, eg. being able to copy your music from that CD you just bought to your PC. If that's piracy then everyone is a pirate and the industry's "war" against pirates has just become a bit more one-sided.

    • (Score: 1) by tbuddy on Friday February 21 2014, @02:53PM

      by tbuddy (932) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:53PM (#4334)

      I am similarly outraged that I can no longer use a hundreds year old term for bundle of sticks or toiling unnecessary at a tedious job without someone assuming that I am talking about someone's dating preferences.

    • (Score: 1) by frink on Friday February 21 2014, @03:58PM

      by frink (461) on Friday February 21 2014, @03:58PM (#4384)

      I see I'm going to have to add that site to my list of things to read to brighten up a dull day...

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @04:37PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @04:37PM (#4410) Homepage Journal

      Actually, calling file sharing "piracy" comes from pirate radio, and actually is slightly similar, in that you get/give music illegally. "Pirate Radio" came from the fact that most of the pirate stations operated out of internation waters in the ocean.

      And "copyright infringers" is a cumbersome label. You have something better?

      As to "pejorative", well, many groups have taken pejorative labels and taken them and worn them with pride. I know some gays who are "proud to be queer". Many if not most file shareres wear the label with pride.

      I personally don't think electrons should be covered by copyright, which is why my book is free to read, if you want to give me money you have to buy a physical copy. IMO a copyrighted work shold be "affixed to a tangible medium" like a book or a CD; something you can hold in your hand. The MAFIAA shot themselves in the feet, they should have embraced P2P and used it to market silver disks with files easily copied to your computer, with "value added" stuff; for music CDs, say, a concert ticket comes with the CD. For a movie, say, LOTR, some trinket from the Shire or something.

      Share my book all you want, I depend on file sharing for sales. Afer all, even if there were no such thing as piracy there's always the public library if you want to read books, listen to music, or watch movies for free. Doctorow covers this well in the intro to one of his books.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 1) by Yog-Yogguth on Friday February 21 2014, @07:29PM

        by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 21 2014, @07:29PM (#4489) Journal

        If anyone feels like it they could call them "infringers", it's only three letters more than pirates and has the same number of syllables.

        Or did I get that wrong? Pi-ra-tes vs. in-frin-gers? :3

        --
        Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
        • (Score: 1) by lx on Friday February 21 2014, @07:59PM

          by lx (1915) on Friday February 21 2014, @07:59PM (#4506)

          Why do you pronounce it pee-rat-tees? It's pie-rats. As in rats that eat pie.

          • (Score: 1) by Yog-Yogguth on Friday February 21 2014, @09:27PM

            by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 21 2014, @09:27PM (#4557) Journal

            Yeah I don't pronounce it that way but "pi-rats" (or "pie-rats") looked all wrong.

            --
            Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @09:00PM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @09:00PM (#4540) Homepage Journal

          Ah, but copyright isn't he only thing you can infringe. I'd call the NSA infringers, for instance. Only what they are infringing is our constitutional rights rather than our copyrights.

          --
          Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Yog-Yogguth on Friday February 21 2014, @10:08PM

            by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 21 2014, @10:08PM (#4574) Journal

            It would always have/need some context anyway but it's a possible alternative if anybody feels strongly enough about it. After all it's never called piracy in court since piracy is something entirely different.

            --
            Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
      • (Score: 1) by Reziac on Saturday February 22 2014, @03:49AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Saturday February 22 2014, @03:49AM (#4671) Homepage

        Fancy meeting you here :)

        I also write SF, and I have mixed feelings about that "tangible medium" thing. I think if I create something, in any form, I should have the right ask to get paid for it (tho people might not think it worth paying for). After all, I spent my time and effort which oughta be worth at least as much as digging a ditch** (where likewise I am paid for my time and effort). However, if someone 'steals' a digital copy, they have not impoverished me, and aren't my customer anyway. (But maybe they will become customers if I manage to addict 'em...)

        ** Well, one could hope, but when I worked out a reasonable guesstimate for average hourly compensation based on common pay-per-word rates for fiction, it amounted to all of $2.50/hour or so. You're better off digging ditches.

        • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:07PM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:07PM (#4858) Homepage Journal

          Well, we probably write for different reasons (I'd like to read some of your stuff, do you have a link?), I don't really care about the money but it would piss me off if someone else were making money on it. If someone posts it on some ad-laden page without my permission I'm suing them. But I write to be read, I just want to entertain folks and maybe make them think. Ever read Asimov's Dreaming Is a Private Thing (full text here) [bestlibrary.net]? I'm Sherman Hillary in that story (which was probably written before I was born).

          --
          Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
          • (Score: 1) by Reziac on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:24PM

            by Reziac (2489) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:24PM (#4861) Homepage

            I write character-driven space opera kinda off in the same direction as Bujold (my characters all think I'm a sadist)... more of a serial than a series. Email me (link on my my homepage) and I'll send you a link, it's a passworded archive and is not yet public. Readers either love it or hate it. :) When I decide it public-ready, I'll probably fling the first 'book' to the filesharing winds, and put the rest up for sale on one of the ebook sites, under the theory that if folks like it that well they might spend a few bucks to read more, and if not, I lose nothing.

            I tried yours but it's really not my thing... mighta been 30 years ago but I've become more narrow-minded, er, I mean eclectic in my old age. ;) My very fave author is Jack Vance, and the one I reread next-most-often is probably CJ Cherryh.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by muthauzem on Friday February 21 2014, @04:52PM

      by muthauzem (2084) on Friday February 21 2014, @04:52PM (#4415)

      Maybe that's exactly what the "anti-piracy crew" wan't.

      It starts with a clear definition, the term begins to be abused and soon enough, everything that competes with their business is considered piracy and must be blocked.

      The same way as the term "terrorist" for the government...

    • (Score: 1) by Dopefish on Friday February 21 2014, @05:19PM

      by Dopefish (12) on Friday February 21 2014, @05:19PM (#4425)

      Hi Sir Garlon,

      Thank you for your feedback. I changed the word in the title from "pirate" to "warez", which is a more appropriate word to use in this instance.

      Definition from Wikipedia:

      "Warez refers primarily to copyrighted works distributed without fees or royalties, and may be traded, in general violation of copyright"

      • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Friday February 21 2014, @06:14PM

        by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday February 21 2014, @06:14PM (#4443)

        Much better, thanks. :-)

        --
        [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DeathMonkey on Friday February 21 2014, @07:57PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Friday February 21 2014, @07:57PM (#4504) Journal

        Thank you for your feedback. I changed the word in the title from "pirate" to "warez", which is a more appropriate word to use in this instance.

         
        Not to get offtopic but I actually think we should avoid editing the articles after they have been posted. I am halfway down this page of discussion on whether "Pirate" is an appropriate word and wondering what the hell everyone is talking about.
         
        If edits are absolutely neccessary then maybe add an editor's note.

        • (Score: 1) by Dopefish on Friday February 21 2014, @08:28PM

          by Dopefish (12) on Friday February 21 2014, @08:28PM (#4523)

          Thanks for the feedback. I'll be sure to explicitly call out any changes that occur after a post goes live in the editor notes.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @02:03PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @02:03PM (#4292)

    The first big red flags popped up the second I noticed their site runs on asp.net (the URL ends in .aspx). The second give away was using word "safe", as in "think of the children". Finally look how they present themselves "Based in Washington, DC, the Digital Citizens Alliance counts among its supporters: private citizens, the health, pharmaceutical and creative industries" and thus very unsurprisingly they list among their goals "Free of illegal movies, videos, and music that steal from our citizens." Wonderful!

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Friday February 21 2014, @05:38PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Friday February 21 2014, @05:38PM (#4432)

      The use of the word "Citizens" in the name was all it took for me to think probable astroturf: Real political advocacy groups usually are named for what or who they're advocating for, e.g. "Natural Resources Defense Council" or "American Association of Retired Persons" or "American Beef Council". Fake groups often are "Concerned Citizens for ..." with a position that just happens to coincide with some very rich person or organization.

      --
      Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
      • (Score: 2) by similar_name on Friday February 21 2014, @06:57PM

        by similar_name (71) on Friday February 21 2014, @06:57PM (#4460)

        Citizens United comes to mind.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:30AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:30AM (#4725)

        That's a good point.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by wjwlsn on Friday February 21 2014, @11:47PM

      by wjwlsn (171) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:47PM (#4611) Homepage Journal

      The following article claims (and presents some evidence) that "Digital Citizens Alliance" is a Microsoft-funded astroturfing organization.

      http://www.circleid.com/posts/20131007_filtering_t he_internet_is_still_bad_idea_dca_abc_steroid_sear ches/ [circleid.com]

      --
      I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by elf on Friday February 21 2014, @03:34PM

    by elf (64) on Friday February 21 2014, @03:34PM (#4362)

    we have solved the revenue problem of Soylent News!

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by frink on Friday February 21 2014, @03:48PM

    by frink (461) on Friday February 21 2014, @03:48PM (#4373)

    So I really don't get their point.. Good money gone bad?

    So they have some kind of estimate about pirate sites (whatever they are as somebody else pointed out). Now if there is one thing we know about these kinds of estimates, it's that they are more often that not complete bollocks.

    And so what if those sites get advertising revenue? They are just sites usually doing a little indexing and linking and not much more. It's no worse then any other similar site, like, say, the googles or bings or such like. They make way more revenue, so how come they have now been picked up? Hell, the only way most people even know about 'pirate sites' is because they googled for them.

    As for the Digital Citizens whatever it is, take a look at the "meet the team", a finer collection of knobs would be hard to assemble. No wonder the whole site is a asp.net mashup, they likely hired some nifty marketing company to whip it all up. I'll give them another six months before their website experiences some, errm, external improvements.

    Sheesh.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by frink on Friday February 21 2014, @03:55PM

      by frink (461) on Friday February 21 2014, @03:55PM (#4379)

      And then there is this in the article:

      "Since these piracy sites rely entirely on other people's work, their profit margins range from 80 percent to 94 percent."

      And in what way is that different to any other search engine? Or SN? This very site, if you use their reasoning, relies entirely on other people's work too (overlooking all the engineering that goes into actually making the site work).

      “We hope this report pushes the online advertising community to take additional steps to protect brand value and stop ads from appearing on content theft sites that are undermining the vibrancy and safety of the digital marketplace.â€

      Yes, because all the porn ads on piratebay mirrors most assuredly have a brand to protect.

      So their goal is "The Digital Citizens Alliance will be an active voice in promoting a better and safer Internet...." I don't quite get what they mean by that aside from THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

      • (Score: 1) by Foobar Bazbot on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:46AM

        by Foobar Bazbot (37) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:46AM (#4691) Journal

        Yes, but since SN doesn't (yet) have any ads, subscriptions, or other revenue source, it's more like: "profit margin ranges from NaN percent to NaN percent."

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by ragequit on Friday February 21 2014, @03:53PM

    by ragequit (44) on Friday February 21 2014, @03:53PM (#4377) Journal

    Aside from the seriously negative slant of TFA, Why would any expect any different? If you take the stance that these "pirate" sites are amoral, then of course they are profitable. They are underhanded!

    On the other hand, since online advertizing is really unregulated, how in the world could the large advertiziers have any idea where their little ads end up?

    --
    The above views are fabricated for your reading pleasure.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Covalent on Friday February 21 2014, @07:10PM

    by Covalent (43) on Friday February 21 2014, @07:10PM (#4473) Journal

    Honestly... $227M sounds like a lot, but how much did the movie studios make last year in profit?

    Well, to put it into perspective, Despicable Me 2 made nearly $900M in profit alone last year

    $227M "lost" (though I would argue it's not really lost) is probably less than last year's loss in stale popcorn.

    http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=despicableme2. htm [boxofficemojo.com]

    --
    You can't rationally argue somebody out of a position they didn't rationally get into.
    • (Score: 1) by Foobar Bazbot on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:55AM

      by Foobar Bazbot (37) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:55AM (#4694) Journal

      Your point's not wrong, but it looks like you're subtracting production budget from worldwide box-office gross, and calling the result profit. That's not right -- there are a lot of expenses after production. Advertising, the cost of building and operating movie theaters, the cost of distributing the film to movie theaters (though that has, or should have, gone way down as theaters switch to digital projection), etc. OTOH, there's additional profit from other revenue sources (media/download sales and streaming rentals).

    • (Score: 1) by AnythingGoes on Wednesday February 26 2014, @04:55AM

      by AnythingGoes (3345) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @04:55AM (#7118)

      And BTW, that number is profit AFTER Hollywood accounting, which means that is probably much, much larger than just a paltry $922M..

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by skullz on Friday February 21 2014, @08:43PM

    by skullz (2532) on Friday February 21 2014, @08:43PM (#4530)

    See? Who says free software can't be profitable.