Cyberlockers and piracy go hand in hand. Megaupload (now offline), Rapidshare, Hotfile, Depositfiles, Megashares-the list goes on and on and new ones pop up every day. These are websites offering “cloud-based storage” where anyone can upload pretty much anything. (Not to be confused with legit sites like Yousendit and Drop Box who offer excellent, and legal, services).
Sounds good right? The problem is not that these sites are in business to make money–that’s the goal of every business. The issue is with how they make that money. Cyber-locker website operators actually offer incentives to users to upload (mostly pirated) content to their sites. Why? The more “content” the more “traffic” the more “money.”
The Cyber-locker business model, in essence, depends on recruiting the general public into their pirate army. Wonder why links get populated to forums around the globe? Because people (with cyber-locker accounts) want to have as many people as possible download their files so they can earn cash rewards. It’s essentially a pyramid scheme (see my post “Explaining Piracy’s Profit Pyramid” for more).
Some, like the (now defunct) Megavideo, offer both downloads and full streams of movies. They are free, easy-to-use and anonymous. What more could a pirate ask for? Check out this video to see this in action:
Like operators of other pirate websites, cyber-locker operators earn income in two ways: First, by selling subscriptions for accelerated downloads; Second, through advertising. Of course, where there’s advertising online, Google’s AdSense accounts usually aren’t far behind. It will be interesting to see what, if anything Google does regarding the ubiquitous nature of their advertising on cyberlockers now that the company has announced it will be offering (and selling) e-books.
Here are some examples of cyberlocker downloads featuring links to download our film along side Google AdSense ads. These ads provide the Cyber-Locker websites with income. This relationship, which incentivizes piracy, is all about profit for both the pirates and for Google.