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VPN Users Hurting The Pirate Sites Industry

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It isn’t much of a secret that in recent years copyright holders have been lashing their anger out on pirate sites. Still, not much has been accomplished to prevent pirate sites from functioning on the web, with mirror and clone sites appearing every time a pirate site gets shut down.

With many countries prohibiting access to certain pirate websites and threating with fines and even potential imprisonment, VPNs have become a necessity, rather than a choice. However, the protection and security gained by VPNs isn’t beneficial to all parties, with pirate sites claiming that VPN traffic users are hurting their ad revenue.

Increased VPN usage cuts ad revenue for pirate sites

the pirate bay logo

VPNs are becoming more and more popular, and why wouldn’t they? They allow users to gain access to restricted websites from anywhere in the world in a secure and anonymous manner. There is a growing concern among certain pirate sites that the increased usage of VPNs is hurting their ad revenue. Why? That is because advertisers treat VPN and TOR traffic differently. Let me demonstrate:

  • Pay per geocode: Advertisers do campaigns and pay per geocode. This means that advertisers pay for their traffic on a geographic basis. Users visiting their websites from certain countries like Canada, the US, or the UK, hold more value than those visiting from China and India, for instance.
  • VPNs reroute traffic: Given that advertisers pay per geocode, they are likely to run targeted campaigns which target to reach people in specific areas and countries. Thus, advertisers treat VPN traffic as worthless simply because the user’s traffic originating from VPNs is routed through servers that are located in countries that most probably pay very little in terms of ad campaigns.

It’s very simple – pirate sites need to make revenue in order to continue operating. Having more VPN users means that the ad revenue stream is shortening. Pirate sites claim that advertising agencies frown upon VPN-filtered traffic, and instead prioritize traffic that is categorized into geographic regions. Maxmind shows an example list of geocodes, with countries such as Canada, the US, and the UK, listed as “CA, US, and GB” further down the list

Interestingly, on the top of the list, you can see A1, which stands for Anonymous Proxy, and traffic originating from VPNs is marked as GEO A1, which doesn’t belong to any specific country, and that’s why no one gets paid for that traffic.

Furthermore, the A1 code isn’t only limited to VPN traffic. It also includes TOR traffic. This kind of traffic is frowned upon by ad agencies, and it is certainly hurting the revenue stream for pirate sites.

VPN usage will continue to rise

Even though users in the US still haven’t experienced website blocking on copyright grounds, there is an ongoing battle between pirate sites like “ThePirateBay,” for instance, and copyright holders, with Hollywood leading the charge. Across 31 countries, ISPs have blocked over:

Europe is dominating the list of blocked websites, with the UK blocking new sites all the time, while the USA and Canada still remain block-free. Nevertheless, the logic is simple and it’s easy to deduce that the more websites get blocked, the more people will be using VPNs to access those websites, and that leads to less revenue for pirate sites.

While software like VPNs and TOR help you access your favorite pirate sites, you are actually not doing them a favor by visiting from a VPN. Who you are really helping is yourself, and when the consequences are fines and jail… use a VPN that’s safe for torrenting:

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