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Survey: Pirate Sites Draw $200M-Plus in Ad Revenues

A survey of almost 600 Web sites identified as illegally offering TV shows and movies online found that in 2014 they had generated $209 million in revenues from ads running adjacent to that pirated digital content.

That is according to the latest study, Good Money Still Going Bad, from the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) and MediaLink.

That is actually down from the $227 million the study found in 2013, but DCA says that since some four out of 10 of those sites had been shut down or "shrunk" between the studies, revenues were comparable.

“What this report shows is that content theft sites can make something while creating nothing while posing real dangers to Internet users who are subjected to malware and other viruses,” said Tom Galvin, DCA executive director, in releasing the latest findings. “Despite the intensified efforts of law enforcement and private industry, the content thieves had another banner year, and that’s bad news for both content creators and consumers who got their computers infected.”

The study found that a third of the sites included links with "the potential to infect users' computers with viruses and other malware."

It also found that the number of name brands whose ads were running with the stolen content had increased from 89 in 2013 to 131 in 2014.

The study was based on 589 sites with 25 or more Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests in Q3 2014, not including porn sites, "hate" sites, ones with mostly user-generated content or where the content was not primarily TV and movies.

DCA does not divulge its funding, beyond identifying them as "private citizens, the health, pharmaceutical and creative industries as well as online safety experts and other communities focused on Internet safety." But its mission is clearly to emphasize the impact of online piracy and safety of consumers.