There’s more to piracy than just tube sites

There’s a lot of adult studios bitching about piracy these days, but if you listen to them, they seem to get locked in on tube sites and completely disregard the other ways digital piracy is killing our bottom lines. To give you an idea, a recent conversation between myself and a very impassioned adult studio representative went something like this:

Nate: “Yeah and it’s not just tube sites, I mean I could download every single one of your movies the week they come out on some of the torrent sites.”

Studio Rep: “What’s a torrent?”

Another recent conversation about porn-sharing forums went something like this:

Nate: “Dude you guys are getting killed on the porn sharing forums too!”

Studio Rep: “Forums? Like ADT?”

Nate: “No, not like ADT.”

Well for those of you that don’t know what a torrent site or a porn-sharing forum is…here ya go:

Torrent sites are true peer 2 peer filesharing sites. I’ll give you an example of how torrents work. Let’s use “Johnny” as our would-be internet pirate. Johnny gets his hands on a DVD of Big Wet Asses 15, and he takes it home and copies it to his computer (this is called ‘ripping’ in the piracy world).

Johnny re-encodes the video and breaks it up into 2 parts where each part is just the right size to be burned/copied to a blank CD. Then Johnny makes a .torrent file. The .torrent file basically contains information saying “This is Big Wet Asses 15, it’s from Elegant Angel, it’s got Gianna, and Johnny is the person that ripped it and if you want to download it, here’s the code you need to know.” Though it says all those things in a very computer-technical way, that’s the gist of the file’s contents. Think of it like a big .zip file.

Each .torrent file has what is called a “info hash” ID, you can think of this like the VIN for your car or your Social Security Number. It’s unique to that one file, and no other file has that same sequence of numbers. Johnny uses a torrent program like Bit Torrent (similar to iTunes) and he makes his copy of Big Wet Asses 15 available to people (this is called ‘seeding’ in the torrent world). Then Johnny goes to a torrent site and he uploads his .torrent file.

Joe Schmo comes along and goes, hmmmm…let’s see what’s new…oh Big Wet Asses 15…looks good…I want it. He downloads the .torrent file and it says to his bit torrent software: “here’s the info hash ID for that file, let’s look for other people that have it…hey Johnny has that movie…we’ll start downloading it from him.”

Eventually someone else comes along and wants Big Wet Asses 15 too, so they start downloading it…but now they are getting part of it from Johnny and part of it from Joe Schmo. This increases as more people want the file, and more people offer it. Eventually there’s a bunch of people who have the full movie (called Seeders) and a bunch of people still in the process of getting it (called Leechers). This collection of people is called “the swarm”, and a healthy swarm has a ratio of more givers than takers. Think of this like checkout stands at the grocery store. If there’s 100 people trying to check out and there’s 1 register open…it’s going to take you a long time. But if there were 200 registers open, you’d breeze right through.

This all might sound kinda technical but it’s actually quite easy. If enough people are seeding a file, you can easily download a full DVD copy in a few hours depending on your internet speed. After you’re done downloading it, you keep sharing it with the people still trying to complete their download. In fact, most sites require users to share in order to stay active. If you don’t share with other people, they cut you off. This keeps new users able to get just about anything they want, just as long as they give back of course.

What’s really tricky for you as a copyright owner is that the torrent site doesn’t actually have Big Wet Asses 15 anywhere on their servers, the movie itself only resides on each individual’s computer, like Johnny and Joe Schmo’s. However, recent cases have been won against torrent sites for aiding in copyright infringement, so most torrent sites now comply with DMCA notices just to cover their butts. So for adult studios there’s no reason for your content to be on many of these torrent sites because many of those sites would have taken it down, if only you had sent a DMCA for it. Many of those sites will then add your company to their list of “Forbidden Content” meaning that users are instructed NOT to upload anything from your company, and if they do, they risk being banned. What’s even better is that if the site you are sending a DMCA for is a private site (meaning that the .torrents on their site are not uploaded anywhere else), sending a DMCA for it effectively kills that .torrent completely. Everyone that has/wants that file, can no longer get it.

Ok, I explained to you how the torrent sites work, now let’s move on to the forums.

The forums are similar to the forums you’ve no doubt heard of like AdultDVDTalk.com and XXXPorntalk.com, however the porn filesharing forums serve a more nefarious purpose. Their only purpose is the trading of porn between users, for free. These sites get tremendous traffic with some in the top 1000 websites in the WORLD according to Alexa. So what motivates people to go to these sites and give away porn for free?

Money.

These visitors don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. No, they are actually making money off of your titles. And I’m not just talking about the site owners, I’m talking about the USERS, or more specifically, the UPLOADERS.

You see, there are websites called “File Hosting” sites that are solely designed for the storage of files of all types. Got a big document you can’t email, pictures from your vacation, you name it…you can upload it there and give Mom and Dad the links to download the pictures. The problem is that these sites are most often used for the purpose of hosting copyrighted content. And most of these sites actually PAY users for how many downloads they get. Let’s use a hypothetical example:

Let’s say Johnny gets his hands on a DVD of Homegrown Video 700. Johnny takes it home, copies it to his computer and re-encodes it. Now, Johnny goes to a site like Rapidshare.com and uploads his copy of Homegrown Video 700. Johnny now goes to a whole bunch of forums and posts “Hey guys, you can download Homegrown Video 700 for free at http://www.rapidshare.com/123456/Homegrown Video 700.zip”. For every person that downloads Johnny’s copy of Homegrown Video 700, the site will pay him money, providing he reaches certain thresholds. Most file hosting sites pay users $10 for every 1000 downloads they pull in. There’s other variables like the size of the file, the uploaders previous history, what country the download came from, but the $10 for 1000 formula is pretty average. Instead of money, some other sites give the uploader “points” that they can use to buy “Premium Accounts” which they can then resell for profit. With a premium account, you get faster download speeds, no waiting to download, and anything you upload won’t get deleted for inactivity. And with the points program, there’s no 1000 downloads threshold that need be achieved.

Think 1000 downloads is impossible? There are threads on some of these forums with upwards of 100,000 views. On one of the main forums I monitor, there are about 700 new postings every single day, with almost all of them reaching at least 200 views….that day. And keep in mind, that’s just one site. If Johnny’s smart, he’s going to post his links on all the high-traffic forums.

Now if Johnny can get 1000 downloads from a big forum, plus 1000 downloads combined from the other 4 or 5 forums he also post links in….Johnny just made $20 off of Homegrown Video 700. And if Homegrown doesn’t send a DMCA notice, Johnny will continue to accumulate downloads over time. Of course Johnny isn’t going to limit himself to just 1 title or 1 studio. If Johnny can do the same thing for 100 titles this week or even for the whole month, well you do the math. Ok, I’ll do the math…it’s $2000. For most of these uploaders the strategy is to get as much stuff uploaded, and let the downloads keep accumulating over time since most studios don’t even know about this problem (since we’re all focused on the tubes).

But you’re saying to me…I’ve never heard of Rapidshare.com, who uses that? Well, here’s a fact that should wake you up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat…only fifteen other websites IN THE ENTIRE FREAKING WORLD get more traffic than Rapidshare! That’s right…more people go to Rapidshare.com than go to Microsoft.com, Ebay.com, Craigslist.org, Amazon.com, AOL.com, CNN.com, Apple.com, ESPN.com, and NYTimes.com. Rapidshare is #15 in the world in total traffic, #14 is Twitter, so Rapidshare is almost as popular as freaking Twitter!

And rest assured if you are an adult studio, every single one of your titles is up there. And your New Releases will be on there either on the street date or within the 1st week. It will happen, no matter how much you wish otherwise. Groups actually compete to see who will be the first to upload your movies, so for them, there’s no ‘cherry-picking’ movies, they want them all, and they will get them.

Now, it’s also my belief that the forums and torrent sites work hand in hand. Meaning that in my example above, I think many “Johnny’s” out there get the movie first from the torrent sites, and then re-upload it to the file hosting sites and then spread the links over the forums. Getting a handle on both of these is very important.

What’s the good news? Well, unlike torrent sites, file hosting sites are actually HOSTING the material, so they must comply with DMCA notices or risk a lawsuit. Which is why all of them comply with DMCA notices and extremely fast. And many of them actually add the file to a filter that will not only prohibit that file from being re-uploaded, but it will force the removal of all copies of that same file. For example, if Johnny uploaded a 1.45 megabyte file of Homegrown Video stills, and Joe Schmo uploaded that same file, one DMCA notice sent for Johnny’s file would force the removal of Joe Schmo’s file as well.

I’ve been incredibly effective at cleaning up the forums for my piracy partners. Uploaders are tying to get clever and they are trying to use program to hide the urls of files, but so far none of them have worked to evade me. They try to be cheeky and use name schemes like “Bl@ckzill@”, but I find them nonetheless. Their attempts to evade me show me that my efforts are working.

This is just another way that we’re all being killed by piracy. Everyone knows about the tubes, and there’s no denying they are a huge problem. But don’t overlook the other means that we’re all being ripped off. This isn’t an easy problem to fix. It’s time consuming, it takes a lot of effort, it’s very repetitive, boring and at times, just downright depressing. So if you don’t want to spend hours every day leafing through page after page of porn uploads…put me on the job for you. My rate is cheap and my results are good. Interested?

Email me at nate@takedownpiracy.com

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