If/When you download a torrent full of juicy copyrighted content (shame on you!), you're not paying anyone; that's part of the appeal. But there's money to be made off sharing stuff free of charge, otherwise why would anyone do it? Torrentfreak sat down with a professional pirate to hear his story. It's fascinating.
Naturally the pirate's true identity is kept secret, but according to Torrentfreak he's responsible for hundreds of thousands of pirate links and 30,000 some illegally uploaded movies. He's sort of a big deal.
I had just moved to Puerto Vallarta [Mexico] and went to a network’s website to watch a TV Show I had missed and I was blocked because I was outside the US. Grrrrr. Then a friend told me about [Richard O'Dwyer's former site] TVShack and a whole new world opened up to me.
...One day, there was a movie I wanted to watch and there were no links to it. So I did a Google search and found one and added it to TVShack. Yay me! I was part of the community.
From there Mr. Pirate McPiracy, known only as "John" went on to make something of an empire for himself. As for where the money actually comes from, Torrentfreak explains:
The basic mechanism is that users upload hot content to file hosting sites. The more people who visit that site to view the content the more advertising revenue the file hoster makes. The file hoster’s affiliate scheme then kicks in and part of the ad revenue generated gets sent to the uploader of the content. John says the payout to him is around 60p to £1.20 per 1,000 views of a movie or TV show.
Using that system and throwing up hundreds of thousands of links, John is able to make what he calls a "nice living," though he doesn't go so far as to divulge how nice of a living. The whole interview is fascinating, and really does a lot to explain the supply side of piracy you probably never think of. Hop over to Torrentfreak and check it out. Then go and watch some movies on legitimate streams like Netflix. [Torrentfreak]