Paying for Piracy? An Analysis of One-Click Hosters’ Controversial Reward Schemes
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One-Click Hosters (OCHs) such as Rapidshare and now defunct Megaupload are popular services where users can upload and store large files. Uploaders can then share the files with friends or make them publicly available by publishing the download links in separate directories, so-called direct download or streaming sites. While OCHs have legitimate use cases, they are also frequently used to distribute pirated content. Many OCHs operate affiliate programmes to financially reward the uploaders of popular files. These affiliate programmes are controversial for allegedly financing piracy, and they were prominently cited in the criminal indictment that lead to the shutdown of Megaupload, once among the world’s 100 largest web sites. In this paper, we provide insights into how much money uploaders of pirated content could earn on a range of direct download and streaming sites. While the potential earnings of a few uploaders are non-negligible, for most uploaders these amounts are so low that they cannot rationally explain profit-oriented behaviour.
KeywordsOne-Click Hosting Piracy Uploader Income Affiliate Programmes
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