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Piracy Your Rights Online

How Do Seeders Profit From BitTorrent? 195

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the my-monitor-is-smudged dept.
arcticstoat writes "As you may remember, a recent study claimed that just 100 users were responsible for downloading 75% of BitTorrent content, and were doing it for money, raising a lot of questions about the study. How do you profit from seeding, and how can the same 100 users be responsible for 75% of downloading and 66% of uploading. The details of the study are clarified in an interview with one of the key researchers, showing that the study's actual statistic is that 66% of the original seeds indexed on the Pirate Bay come from just 100 users, and these seeds then go on to account for 75% of downloads. The interview also details how it's possible for this small number of seeders to make a profit from seeding, via embedding links to their own indexing sites in the filenames and bundled TXT files, which then get money from advertising if downloaders decide to visit the site, assured of quality downloads. Meanwhile, other ways of profiting include 'premium' registered accounts."
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How Do Seeders Profit From BitTorrent?

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  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @10:31AM (#35220676)

    _AGAIN_ with this nonsense?

    I strongly doubt anyone is getting rich from the trickle of people who actually go to the URLs found in torrent info files. They seem to be more for notoriety than profit.

    Yes, the trackers make money of the ads.. but unless there is some secret backroom deal where TPB and others funnel money to axxo and friends.. I don’t see the corollary between index site traffic and motivation for users to seed.

    People do it for the e-pene. People were (and still are) doing this on IRC long before there was any way to make a profit. People insist on keeping their share ratios up, even when not required... and they see no profit either.

    And the interview doesn’t _detail_ anything. It quickly explains some very shallow “research” with plenty of bias, then makes a pretty dubious guess, and finally proceeds to make an even lamer admonishment of people who illegally download.

    _AND_ using TPB and Mininova as your main source of data good grief.

    This isn't a few guys who've had a look at what's happening on BitTorrent a couple of times and made notes

    Weird... cause that’s exactly what it feels like. This thing reads like some high school kid’s half assed research project. They grabbed some data.. made a bunch of broad assumptions.. then proceeded to unsubstantiated correlations.

    This whole “study” is a complete joke. If these researchers had any brains they’d just let this thing quietly die and move onto something else.

    • ./bitchx

      #exceed> /msg botsrv1 xdcc send the_cure_boys_dont_cry.rar

      /good ol' days

      • Johnny-come-lately. The real eleet never use BitchX, they use ircII. With a script. That they wrote themselves. Lemme guess, you were in an ANSI art group, right?
        • I must be at the bottom of the barrel because I never used either. Just packetnews and a little script to query the bot if its queue was full.
      • by Anrego (830717) *

        Oh man.. nostalgia trip!

        I actually used bitchx for chat! For a long damn time too. I resisted irssi (with it's silly activity numbers) for quite some time.

        and now I use xchat.

        sigh...

    • by DrXym (126579)

      I strongly doubt anyone is getting rich from the trickle of people who actually go to the URLs found in torrent info files. They seem to be more for notoriety than profit.

      People might not get rich from the genuine torrents. I bet people get rich from fake torrents where the download is a readme.txt and an encrypted rar and you're instructed to visit some url, sign up to a bunch of affiliate programs (and subjected to drive by attacks) to get the supposed password. Of course the password and the rar will be fakes.

      • by jandrese (485)
        Who would actually do this? A handful of suckers? That's no way to get rich. If I got a file that had a readme that said "this file is encrypted, and we didn't tell you that before you downloaded it. To get the password, sign up for all of these credit cards and whatnot first." I would delete the file without a second thought. A legit uploader will fill the hole pretty quickly. Said torrent would get a lot of "Don't download! Bogus!" comments too.
        • by Anrego (830717) *

          I would delete the file without a second thought.

          That's probably because you are a person of at least room temperature intelligence. There are a lot of really stupid people out there.

          Browse some youtube comments or yahoo answers. The rampant success of all the various "you'd have to be an idiot" scams will suddenly seem less surprising. It's actually quite depressing. Not to mention the extreme cases.. like people who fall for the Nigerian scams.

    • by zarthrag (650912)
      Not so much. Once upon a time, I was quite active on IRC - I was on an *extremely* high speed connection, and got multiple offers of all the "free" hardware and access I wanted in return for maintaining a node in their network. I imagine that's still the case nowadays.
    • uTorrent FTW! I don't FL rars/zips And I don't D/L anything from a torrent except what I want, no read mes, extras, etc etc.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @10:34AM (#35220706) Homepage Journal

    Most (all?) private trackers that I use absolutely forbid any advertising in the torrent. For the most part the rules on the private trackers dictate untouched scene releases. Some allow for unrarring of the goodies but the nfo and other scene-sourced stuff must remain intact.

    Public trackers are another matter completely.
  • srsly? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @10:35AM (#35220720)
    None of the porn I download has any sort of ads, links or otherwise. Who's making money off this mythical advertisement?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Meddik (1849590)
      Plastic Surgeons. Think of it as advertising via Product Placement.
    • Re:srsly? (Score:5, Funny)

      by KingMotley (944240) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @12:35PM (#35221944) Journal

      Kleenex.

    • by mxs (42717)

      In many cases, the porn you download /is/ the advertisement. On most, if not all, current produced-for-internet porn you can find the name of the outlet somewhere in the frame. If you like the quality, you might want to go get the rest of their stuff. People who never pay for porn do not cost them anything -- question is whether the people who pay for it after having gotten parts for free outweigh the people who may have paid for it but opted to scour usenet instead -- the age-old unanswerable question, rea

      • So this is making money for the people producing and selling the porn in the first place... and not denying them of money as the MPAA has been arguing for years. The torrenters themselves do not see a penny of it, unless they are the legal copyright owners... in which case no law has been broken!
      • by sjames (1099)

        so......much.......innuendo...

  • by Anonymous Showered (1443719) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @10:42AM (#35220790)

    I've downloaded a few e-books (PDFs) and upon opening them, were greeted with the seeder's or creator's homepage (or affiliate URL). One of the books I downloaded was about day trading. The person who put together the PDF injected his homepage and services in the first 2 pages of the book. Does he make money? Who knows. Does he get a few visits to his website for a bit of work? Yup.

  • "via embedding links to their own indexing sites in the filenames and bundled TXT files"

    Ah, those would be the text files that I uncheck before I start the download, ensuring that they never reach my computer.

    If I'm downloading a torrent for one file, and there are other files in the torrent, they all get unchecked first.

    • by ifrag (984323)
      Although based on block size you are somewhat likely to have the text file downloaded anyway based on the order the data is arranged in the torrent. That is unless it's one of those strange mangled torrents some people make which have padding between every file to finish up the block. In the end that file might not be parsed out and just get left in a lump of cache data which will be erased, but you probably are at least downloading those tiny things most of the time, even if they never manifest as a sepa
  • I didn't knew that when people were not R[ing]TFA (or actually RTFPaper), it was worth a repost when someone who actually read the paper would talk about it.

  • by v1 (525388) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @10:55AM (#35220930) Homepage Journal

    to try to find a more concrete reason to go after bittorrent. Everyone's tired of hearing them whine about the zillions of dollars they're losing from the violation of their imaginary property. Usually Plan B involves showing how someone, somewhere is making money. (someone's making money off their IP, they want a cut, ok I get that) But this doesn't work for bittorrent because nobody's making money on it. But they're going to give it a go anyway.

    Trying to insult peoples' intelligence tends to LOWER your credibility and sympathy, not raise it. You'd think they'd learn. No, on second thought, they never do learn, do they?

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @11:34AM (#35221250) Homepage

      Hey the TV networks are losing $22,589,304,200,123.15 every second because of bittorrents. These evil pirates are making these kind souls that make this content for our enjoyment, out of the goodness of their hearts... Poor by STEALING their content.

      Because if after a TV show like "big bang theory" airs and it hits the torrent sites, NOBODY will buy the DVD's or watch any of the reruns. Sales of TV show DVD's are at ZERO.. Nobody at all buys them, nobody is watching reruns. They are poor as paupers and we all simply ignore them and continue stealing...

      Those poor poor destitute souls... all you evil people are making them so poor that in order to survive NBC had to be sold to Comcast for pennies on the dollar.

      • by v1 (525388)

        and of course that's money being taken out of the mouths of starving artists living in slums unable to feed their family. all that money should go to them. Less the 99.3% we the riaa skim of the top anyway. But it's the PIRATES that are the evil.

  • The author seems to operate with the assumption that the only motive for one person to do so much "work" is profit. My observation is that a lot of torrents are put up by old piracy groups (games are cracked and distributed by RAZOR, as one example). Shows are often put up by similar groups with their own communities. These groups tend to have a small number of members who are responsible for uploading the content. They are just one part of a much larger content distribution machine.
  • Not a dime (Score:4, Interesting)

    by macraig (621737) <(mark.a.craig) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @11:14AM (#35221056)

    I never profited a dime from my seeding activities, but then that was never even a secondary goal of doing it in the first place... quite the opposite. It was anti-greed or anti-capitalism.

  • ..and I tell you, the advertisements on the site where the torrents can be downloaded make no money worth mentioning. It doesn't even fully cover the server cost, seeding does cost money. And that's limiting the content to public domain and creative commons, advertisements make nothing close to what is requred in order to buy quality content. Keep in mind that this is a site where torrents can be downloaded which also does seeding of those torrents, I really do not see how those who just upload some file to
  • they are seedhosts (Score:4, Informative)

    by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon@NoSPAM.gamerslastwill.com> on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @12:20PM (#35221742) Homepage Journal

    You pay for a seedhost. They do the torrenting for you and you simply download what you want directly from them while they boost your ratio.

    • Holy crap, hosted bittorrent seeding servers ("seedhosts [google.com]") exist ... and people pay for them?

      That could explain a lot of the lopsidedness in the numbers.

      I would hope that seedhost businesses make generous donations to the EFF and similar organizations that work to protect and improve the legality of media sharing; were I in that business, I'd make that a selling point, e.g. "5% of proceeds are donated to the EFF."

      Also, doesn't boosting your ratio not matter unless you're in a gated BT community that m

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @01:54PM (#35222932)

    Balmer: Sir, there is a new threat facing us, Open Source.

    Gates: No bother, we'll just rip off what they do and when they sue us we'll buy the company.

    Balmer: It doesn't work that way. They're busy trying to emulate the look and feel of Windows. They're ripping us off.

    Gates: Then we'll sue them.

    Balmer: There's no company to sue.

    Gates: If we can't buy them or sue them, what are we supposed to do? Let's go after the programmers. Surely we can pay them more than they're making right now.

    Balmer: They're not making anything right now.

    Gates: What? Preposterous! Anything worth doing is worth doing for money. What could possibly motivate them?

    Balmer: Love and the respect of their peers. I assure you I am as baffled as you are.

    Most of this stuff was done as a hobby, for bragging rights. It's like any other kind of hobby people get involved in. People were surfing and rock climbing and flying model airplanes long before there was any sort of sponsorship involved and sponsorships were basically from companies looking to cash in from association with the hobby, either trying to become a lifestyle brand like soda companies aligning themselves with extreeeeeeeeeme! sports or actual suppliers of the equipment wanting to get their name out amongst the participating amateurs.

    The mistake these people are making is assuming that what motivates them motivates others. Usually it happens the other way around, people doing it for the love getting disillusioned by those doing it for the money so it's always nice to see it go the other way around for a change.

  • I always figured it was about spreading malware. People who are willing to download software from unknown sources on the Internet seem like easy targets to me. Install pirate Diablo II, get a free keylogger!

    • by gregor-e (136142)
      Bingo. I have a feeling that if the researchers sampled the wares available from these mega-seeders, they'd find an unusually large percentage of them carried trojans that allow the seeder (or whoever pays the seeder), to establish a botnet.
      • by rwade (131726)

        Last night, I downloaded the a patch for a popular game. It's freely available, but the download from EA was slow -- something like 100kbps, and this was a 2GB patch. With the torrent, I was pulling it down at 1.2MBPS, the maximum that my AT&T connection can do.

        But I have no idea if there was a trojan in that file. Probably should have checked the sum, but alas -- I have no idea of how to do that...oops.

  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @05:25PM (#35225082)

    I think seeds are mostly from people with a sense of fairness. It's not really pure altruism. I upload at least as much as I download because the whole system is not sustainable otherwise (essentially a selfish motive). I don't believe in taking from the swarm more than I am giving back. It's true that quite a few people don't care, which is probably one reason why all torrents eventually die. But there are enough people with a sense of fairness to make the system mostly work. It's really about trading. The swarm gives me a copy of the movie/game/CD and I feel compelled to give back at least as much data as I was given. I guess it's an honor system of sorts. I think many or even most people wouldn't steal stuff even if they thought they wouldn't be caught.

    It's that same sense of fairness that powers bittorrent and also motivates some people to buy content instead of downloading it. I do both. I download everything first to try it. If I like it then I buy the usually higher quality paid version. Games/software are the exception because the paid version is actually lower quality than the downloaded one due to draconian DRM. I only purchase DRM-free software, which basically doesn't exist anymore.

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