‘Click-Scams’ Cause More Damage To Rightholders Than Stream-Ripping

Global Content Protection Ltd. (GCP) is a UK-based content protection research and development centre – the power behind leading protection specialist companies, including VideoLock.NET and AudioLock.NET.

GCP provides a platform which utilises its technology-pushing modules that are required to manage the many distribution systems which are growing and have become interconnected. These systems are used to deliver content through services such as Plex and Kodi, as well as ‘Scene Releases’, which were once on the verge of becoming redundant, but are now seeing a resurgence.

GCP delivers a wide range of services and tools that are not only transparent, but able to show the external factors affecting your content and brand in real time. This allows you to defend your assets whilst providing an insight into the value achieved through the use of GCP’s defence and management tools.

In collaboration with its partners, GCP has analysed global big data by discovering and monitoring relationships that have developed between the newer technologies and the entities involved with content piracy. Pirates are blending old and new technologies together in order to hack systems, providing resources that they weren’t intended for. By abusing outdated aspects of the web, this also grants pirates with more anonymity to cover up their crimes.

Through their vast datasets, GCP has been able to analyse the risk that content owners are being exposed to. ‘Stream-ripping download sites’ have been thoroughly discussed within the film, TV, and music industries. Within our organisation, we classify these sites as ‘click-scams’, this is because they often pretend to have a high-quality download of the content when they don’t. The purpose of these sites is to generate as much traffic and click-throughs as possible to drive advertising revenue – hence the term ‘click-scam’.

From its analysis, the notorious ‘click-scam’ sites (websites that automatically generate individual pages for forthcoming releases) are being rewarded by the search engines for having specific meta details which are taken from media streaming websites. In addition to stealing traffic from legitimate sites, they often implement the ability to stream-rip content. For example, music-focused ‘click-scams’ present tracks with an enticing ‘Free Download’ button, automatically generating its own page and pulling a low-quality file (often around 128kbps, significantly worse than a legitimate download) from an external source, such as YouTube or Soundcloud.

GCP’s initial conclusion is that stream-ripping only makes up only a small proportion of the total risk. Stream-ripping typically involves the user intentionally accessing a site for the content they are looking to download for free. Although there is evidence in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) of such activity, more prevalent is the inclusion of fake sites pretending to have free downloads. These sites subsequently dilute the number of legitimate results and infect the content owner’s potential revenue streams, thus polluting the brand and reducing ROI for the rightholders.

This type of pollution is something that GCP has been actively working towards resolving with its partners. However, the true scale of this international problem has often been overlooked by others as being insignificant until GCP conducted this investigation.

We have provided the datasets used in this research to AudioLock and VideoLock for further analysis in their industry-specific markets…