Despite Extensive Antipiracy Efforts, Sony Helped Fund 'Rogue' Pirate Sites

Just like nearly every other site on the web, piracy portals survive on advertising revenue -- the people running these sites have bills to pay too. With that in mind, entertainment conglomerates have figured out it might be easier to cut so-called "rogue" sites off at the knees rather than chase after individual file sharers, and one way to do that is by attacking their revenue stream. Interestingly enough, there are some big names with conflicting interests doling out doubloons to pirate sites through ad impressions, including Sony.

Yes, Sony -- the same company that was recently hacked for the gazillionth time over "The Interview," a comedy that went straight to streaming and saw only a limited theatrical release. It was a also a huge hit on pirate sites, which is the equivalent of rubbing salt in the wound.

Despite all that, TorrentFreak dug up a Digital Citizens Alliance report from February 2014 claiming that the top "pirate sites" generate $227 million in annual ad revenue.

Pirate Flag
Image Source: Flickr (Nicolas Raymond)

The report called out some big names, like Amazon, American Express, Dell, and others for allowing their ads to run on known pirate sites. It's a shaming tactic, but what it missed was the irony with Sony.

For that, TorrentFreak did a bit more digging and became privy to some data by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Turns out the MPAA was monitoring pirate sites during the early part of 2014, and during that time, it discovered that ads commissioned by media companies close to ones it represents were appearing on those same sites.

In particular, several Sony companies served up nearly 2 million ad impressions on rogue sites in the first five months of 2014. The companies include Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Entertainment Network, Sony Corporation, and Sony Mobile Communications.

Made aware of the situation, Sony has made it a goal to remove the egg from its face. Well, three goals, actually. The first is to stop funding these sites through ad impressions and viewer click-throughs. The second is "eliminating any semblance of legitimacy that ads for well known brands might lend these rogue sites," and the third is to the protect the reputation of its brand, especially since these sites often serve up malware.