With huge amounts of traffic landing on both torrent and streaming platforms, even with low-quality adverts it’s possible for both site owners and advertising companies to generate decent profits.
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Until now, pirate site operators have been the main targets for law enforcement agencies but a recently concluded case in Germany shows that the authorities are prepared to extend their reach when required.
According to Germany-based anti-piracy group GVU, the Leipzig District Court has now sentenced three employees of an Internet advertising agency to prison terms for aiding and abetting copyright infringement.
The investigation was led by the Integrated Investigation Unit Saxony (INES) at the Saxon Attorney General’s Office and supported by the GVU with analysis and insights.
“The defendants had brokered advertising space on well-known piracy portals such as kino.to or iload.to and displayed lucrative banner ads on a large scale,” GVU reveals.
“In this way, they achieved profits of more than 350,000 euros. They were aware that they were involved with structurally infringing sites, which apparently offered almost exclusively copyrighted files for download and streaming.”
The sentences for the trio were considerable, despite not being directly involved in the running of the sites. The manager of the agency received a sentence of one year and eight months, with two programmers each receiving one year and four months in prison. However, since the defendants confessed, all sentences were suspended.
“The verdict sets a significant precedent because up to now no advertising agency in Germany has ever been prosecuted for its support of illegal portal sites,” GVU concludes.
While they attracted significant volumes of traffic in their prime, both Kino.to and iLoad.to are long gone from the piracy ecosystem.
Kino.to was once the king of all Germany-based streaming sites. It was raided in 2011 as part of a huge multi-national anti-piracy operation but various clones have since tried to keep the pirate flag flying in its honor.
Finally, Tarnkappe reports that GVU is about to lose its funding from the MPA. The organization told the publication that Germany is still important but a new and more integrated approach is required.
“The MPA continues to promote a vibrant and diverse creative industries in Germany and throughout the European Union – and to defend the rights of authors to be compensated for their work,” an MPA spokesperson said.
“However, as film and television piracy continues to develop rapidly, become increasingly online and international, we need to develop our overall approach to be more integrated and coherent. This requires a more flexible local presence and direct cooperation with local and regional law enforcement agencies. Germany is a strategically important market for the MPA and we are determined to continue playing a key role.”