Getting Pirates Removed From Traffic Networks / Affiliate Programs
Piracy is a huge issue in the adult industry, but luckily there’s many different ways to fight stolen content. DMCA is the first thing that comes to mind, and it’s a very good place to start. Usually models only think about submitting DMCA complaints directly to the site hosting the pirated content. If the site is located in a country that doesn’t honor US intellectual property laws, they usually don’t honor some claims. This can be frustrating, but luckily there’s other places DMCA notices can be submitted to. Today, we’re going to be talking about compromising a pirate’s income by submitting abuse notices to the traffic networks and affiliate programs.
How Doing This Helps Fight Piracy
Pirates are in it for the money. They’re not capping models shows and clips for the fun of it. This means that they need to monetize the traffic the pirated content generates in some way. Affiliate marketing and placing traffic network ads on a site is the most common form of monetization. Any attack on the pirate’s revenue makes piracy that much less lucrative. Sure, they can find other means of monetization, but each time it’s usually a downgrade, revenue-wise.
What Are “Traffic Networks” and “Affiliate Programs”?
Here’s a description of both advertisement / traffic networks and affiliate programs:
Traffic Networks – These networks broker traffic. Webmasters are either able to register as publishers or advertisers. Publishers are given code snippets to place on their site. These might banner ads, pop-ads, IM ads or various other ad types. The advertisers bid for their ads to show up on publisher sites. When the ad gets a click, the advertiser pays the traffic network for the click, and the webmaster gets a cut of the revenue.
Affiliate Programs – Affiliate marketing is where a webmaster (or affiliate) promotes a specific product or service. Unlike an ad network, affiliates don’t get paid for clicks or impressions. Affiliates only get paid when they refer a signup. There are in-house affiliate programs, which are ran by the brand the webmasters are promoting. There are also affiliate networks that host a bunch of different affiliate programs, on behalf of the brands being promoted.
How To Identify Who’s Ads The Pirate Is Using
This might be insanely easy, or it might be hard to do. Sometimes, all you need to do is look at the link itself. Sometimes you might have to dig through the source code to find it. If it’s a banner ad, sometimes looking at the link is enough by itself. If it’s a legit website name with some weird stuff at the end of the link, it’s probably an in-house affiliate program. If it’s a really funky and random domain name, it’s most likely either a traffic network or an affiliate network hosting multiple programs on behalf of the brand.
For the domains / links that can’t be easily identified just by looking at them, you might be able to figure it out by simply punching that url into the browser. Many traffic networks / affiliate networks will display a 404 error stating that this domain is used to deliver ads for such-and-such network. There’s your answer right there. Sometimes nothing will be displayed. If that’s the case, running a WHOIS on the domain, or punching it into Google will likely give you an answer.
For Pop-Unders and Other Ad Types – There are certain ad types where you don’t have a link to really look at. That’s because the ads themselves are scripts in the header of the site. To figure out who’s ads those are, you need to view the source code of the site. This is easily done by right-clicking and choosing View Source (works in pretty much every browser). The code snippet causing the ad will either be between the <header> and </header> tags at the beginning of the page, or the <footer> and </footer> tags at the end of the page. Most likely in the header.
Now that the networks used for monetization are identified, it’s time to submit the DMCA notice
How To Submit The DMCA Complaint
The process will vary from network to network, but it’s all fairly similar. Some networks might have a “DMCA” or “Report Abuse” link in the footer of their site. Some networks might have it hidden on the Contact Page (sometimes as a drop-down item). Some networks you might have to reach out to support asking them how to file a DMCA complaint. Sometimes a Google search for “[Company] DMCA” will bring up the right page, or at least an email address.
When given the steps and required information for the DMCA complaint, it’s important to follow them as closely as possible. Failure to do so might invalidate your claim. Some information might be difficult (or impossible) to find. For example; I’ve never seen a pirate hand out their contact information on a silver platter. A WHOIS won’t even reveal that. So being fully compliant with the standards outlined by the network can be insanely frustrating. Do your best to be as comprehensive as possible, as that’s the best you can do.
Privacy Is A Major Issue With All DMCA Notices
THE NETWORK MIGHT REQUEST PERSONAL INFORMATION. THIS CAN BE A MAJOR PRIVACY RISK! It’s suggested that you use a different phone number and address as your real one. Preferably with a different area code and/or address. Models have had success filing DMCA complaints under their performer names (instead of real ones). This might not always work, but it’s worth doing.
Most of the time, networks will share the DMCA complaint with the non-compliant webmaster, so that they can submit a counter-claim. People do file fictitious DMCA complaints, so the counter-claim process is a very important process to maintain the legitimacy of everything. Your personal information may or may not be redacted during this counter-complaint process. It’s advised to ask the network what information they provide to the alleged infringing party during this process. You don’t want a shady webmaster blackmailing or doxxing you.
Working With A DMCA Agency
An alternative to filing the DMCA complaint yourself, is partnering with a DMCA agency. This will come with some costs associated, but you definitely get what you pay for. There are some DMCA agencies that will remove pirated content you never even knew existed. In foreign languages, even.
These agencies will submit DMCA complaints everywhere; directly to the webmaster, to hosting companies, Google and other search engines, traffic networks and so-on. Because the agency is submitting the takedown request on your behalf, it’ll be the contact info of the agency on the request and not yours. Also (as horrible as it is to say) webmasters and companies put more stock into a notice sent from an agency than they do in one sent by an individual.
Working With Your Camming / Clip Site or Studio
Many camming and clip sites offer DMCA services. These services might simply be submitting an initial complaint. They might go as far as submitting complaints everywhere possible and actually following-up on them. This varies drastically from site-to-site. There’s many reasons why models would want the network to submit the complaints on their behalf. Privacy is the biggest issue. Once again (and as horrible as it is to admit) the big-box sites also carry more clout than an individual. They have the money to afford lawyers.
Warning: Not All Networks Will Actually Act
Just like with normal DMCA take-down requests, some traffic and affiliate networks will not remove non-complaint webmasters. As horrible of a reality it is, it’s one we must face. This can be very discouraging, but don’t let this get you down. Luckily there’s still some other anti-piracy weapons in the arsenal. This includes DMCA to other sources (Google, web hosts, ect) as well as some tactics to further combat the traffic and profitability of the infringing party.
More Ways Adult Performers Can Fight Piracy
Submitting DMCA notices to traffic networks is only one weapon against piracy. There’s tons of other tricks and tools out there to help in the fight against piracy. Some involve submitting DMCA requests to other entities besides these traffic networks. Others go beyond DMCA all together. Here’s some other ways to take the fight to piracy.
Submitting DMCA Complaints To Google
Google is the primary traffic source for most pirates. Submitting DMCA complaints to Google is very easy, and Google is good about taking action. Best of all, Google doesn’t do the best job about vetting the parties submitting the complaint. Therefore, using a performer-name instead of real contact information is more likely to succeed.
Submitting DMCA Notices To Web Hosts
Web hosting companies is another place where DMCA notices can be submitted to. The process (and privacy concerns) are very much the same. The web hosting company provides the DMCA notice to infringing parties so they can submit a counter-claim. What makes these type of complaints more effective though, is the fact that if it’s successful, the entire pirate site goes offline!
Outsourcing To A DMCA Agency
DMCA agencies are always a lot more effective than doing it yourself or relying on the networks to do everything on your behalf. Outside of submitting all the DMCA notices, an agency will also proactively monitor the internet for stolen content. Usually in an automated fashion. And best of all, there’s no privacy risks when using a DMCA agency.
Trademarked Watermarks: Going Beyond Copyright
Trademark laws go above and beyond copyright laws. And if a trademarked watermark is contained on all the content, then that content is also non-compliant with trademark laws (as well as copyright). With more legal weight comes more results.
Reclaiming The Traffic From Pirates
Pirated content isn’t a problem if nobody can find it. Pirates aren’t only thieves, they’re also marketers. They know how to use the stolen content to drive traffic. Your traffic. By reclaiming the traffic stolen by piracy, you can drastically reduce the impact it has on revenue.