Tag Archives: VODO

How To Make Pirate Bay Users Pay For Content

tpb-logoOver the past several years, numerous studies have shown that “pirates” are more engaged consumers than their non-sharing counterparts.

They not only consume more media, but also pay more for legal content. While the average visit to The Pirate Bay doesn’t cost anything, the above suggests that it’s a good venue for indie creators to advertise their work.

This is exactly what a group of indie sci-fi creators thought, so last weekend they teamed up with VODO to promote their work on The Pirate Bay. The end result is the “Otherworlds” sci-fi bundle, which includes a wide variety of content, such as books, games, music, comics and videos.

The Pirate Bay was kind enough to promote the bundle for nearly three days, replacing the site’s iconic logo with a prominent banner. Those who clicked on the banner could download a torrent with free sample content, but those who wanted more had to pay up.

Pay for content???


TorrentFreak reached out to VODO’s Jamie King, who organized the campaign, to learn more about the results. As expected, the Pirate Bay promotion generated a ton of traffic, over 100,000 visitors. Not all of this traffic resulted in sales, but overall results turned out quite well.

“The Pirate Bay helped us to make about $5,000 of sales from 375 customers. The simple immensity of the traffic really helped to move some bundles,” King tells us.

The “Otherworlds” bundle presents people with three payment options. A “pay what you want” option for five titles, a “beat the average” option with seven extra pieces of content, and a “beat the premium” option for the high rollers.

Interestingly, Pirate Bay users mostly picked the latter option. In total, 232 Pirate Bay visitors chose the most expensive “beat the premium” option, paying $18.11 on average. Another 72 visitors went for the cheapest option with an average payment of $1.78, and 67 people ended up in the middle with an $10.61 average.

Across all paying Pirate Bay visitors the average payment was $13.52. Interestingly enough, this is more than the average paid by people who came from other sites, or social media. That said, King notes that the ratio of incoming visitors to buying visitors was relatively low, about a tenth of that from other sites.

Those who have been reading TorrentFreak for a while may remember that VODO has been around for a few years already. Initially it started out by sharing torrents for free, and asking the public for donations. While some people were happy to donate, this model wasn’t very sustainable.

“To really create a success for a filmmaker, we’d have to generate literally millions of downloads. But it wasn’t do-able on a regular basis,” King tells us.

“So for us, putting up a ‘pay what you want’-wall has been a really simple and successful move. We still offer free sample torrents / mini-bundles, but basically, if you want the proper bundle, you have to choose to pay something,” he adds.

Conversions increased after the switch as more and more people started to contribute. The other advantage was that more creators were willing to join, as they were guaranteed a payment, while keeping control over how long their content remains available.

“Particularly, we can get much better content than if we were using torrents. The truth is most creators don’t have the rights to share their work freely, even if they wanted to,” King says.

In other words, if you want Pirate Bay users to contribute, the paywall system is a better way to do so than giving away everything for free in return for an optional donation. Perhaps this sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s how it works.

Finally, it’s worth noting that VODO has built-in an option for those who are not happy with the suggested payments. Beneath each offer is a “that’s too much for me” button where people can suggest the price they are willing to pay. Interestingly, hundreds of Pirate Bay users suggested their alternative price. In a week or so VODO plans to honor most of these offers, generating thousands of dollars in aftersales.

All in all the above shows that sites such as The Pirate Bay and EZTV, where it was promoted as well, can certainly help to finance indie creators. However, simply giving away content for free is not always the best option. As is often the case, people sometimes need a small incentive to contribute.

The “Otherworlds” bundle is still available today, and those who are interested can check out the offer here.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Innovative, P2P Based, Decentralised System for Dissident Journalists – SPARKD

The new project entered Mozilla’s MoJo contest this week under the name of SPARKD. Its platform is based on p2p video streaming and comes with the promise of a new age of anti-censorship tool and more.

As the internet consumption habits had increasingly grown in the past decade, social networks like Facebook and Twitter brought sharing and communication to a whole new level. Started by several p2p enthusiasts at VODO, this project’s purpose is to facilitate citizen journalists to stream for millions, anonymously and virtually invulnerable to censorship.

Mozilla’s MoJo contest – created to encourage new approaches to news gathering and reporting – has opened its arms and signed SPARKD on the list. The project’s goal is to be awarded fellowship with one of the participating news organizations which include the BBC and Al Jazeera.

Streaming with this program is accessible and can be done from whatever device you own. Its technology is based on peer-to-peer protocol, meaning that once the information is out there it stays there.

Jamie King, the founder of project VODO – which stands for “voluntary donations” and was inspired from the experience he gained from releasing together with his partner their own works for free online – and director of “Steal this film”, said that the new project can easily become an extension tool for every journalist.

“It’s clear that public distribution of certain kinds of key information has the potential to contribute to social change. Look at the role of citizen journalists in Egypt, and how this fed through to public awareness of the situation, strengthening the local movement. Or look at Wikileaks, and its recent role in revealing the oil motives behind the invasion of Iraq. That should make it harder, I hope, to sell war to the public in the future. But in both cases, the distribution infrastructure is somewhat shaky, and liable to attack,” King told TorrentFreak.

Various methods of censorship are applied to free media like Al Jazeera or Wikileaks.“This is why SPARKD, based on a properly decentralized, P2P distribution with BitTorrent and the developmental Swift protocol at its core, can be useful. With peers bearing the responsibility of distribution, and trackerless swarms as the main infrastructure, it’s a much harder channel to censor or attack,” King says.

“P2P is perhaps the most pure realisation of John Gilmore’s statement that ‘The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.’ Nowhere right now is it more important to demonstrate this practically than with citizen journalism,” he adds.

Security is the main concern. Therefore, proxies will be placed between the source and the rest of the world. Moreover, everyone is invited to pitch in by contacting the SPARKD team.

“The idea is to use a proxy — probably one that the user can select, we have a couple of partners we could work with — to protect the initial uploader as they upload over HTTP. We can arrange it so that we don’t actually know the details of the uploader, so there’d be no point people coming after us to find out who it was,” King told TorrentFreak.

“If you’re a UI designer, we need you. If you are a P2P-savvy programmer, we need you. If you have an interest in merging social conversation with live video, we want you. We can just about make this happen by ourselves, but this isn’t the point. It’s always great to discover new people to work with,” King says.

A beta version will be released to the public whether SPARKD wins or not the Mozilla contest.

Although SPARKD is clearly designed for political and informational purposes, everyone will have access to the program and hopefully will establish new levels of understanding free-speech and the freedom of information.

Here’s some technical info about Sparkd from the contest website.


SPARKD makes use of the complete flit suite of tools, as below:

1. Launch

Launch provides initial upload from a given environment or event via HTTPS, either in-browser or through an Android or iPhone app. Where necessary, data is anonymised using Tor or another available proxy.

2. Hatch

Hatch transcodes the video to WebM(2) ready for streaming/sharing and creates a swift hash for a given video file, identifying the file and making it available to peers.

3. Wire

Wire indexes the file in a moderated list displayed on the SPARKD front page. The uploader chooses the relevant index to be added to, and is prompted for thumbnail, title, date, length and other metadata. The SPARKD wire can be subscribed to by any RSS service or flit user.

SPARKD incorporates social influence tools allowing users to share items and indexes with their social graph. Amongst these are the capacity to add hashtags to a particular item such that it can be discovered thematically and linked to live conversation in social networks.

4. Birdseed

Seeding is an important part of making sure that videos stay available under high load. Birdseed allows interested parties to grab a whole Wire index, download it via swift and make it available to otherpeers. Users are able to set the amount of bandwidth they wish to make available within the flight extension, as well as manage which indexes they are seeding.

Steal This Film Team Plans P2P Donation Platform

The team behind Steal This Film and Steal This Film 2 draws our attention again. These days they are busy creating a platform whose purpose is to help filmmakers receive financial compensation for the works they release via file-sharing networks. The name of the project is VODO (meaning “voluntary donations”) and the actual inspiration for it is the experience the two filmmakers have gained from releasing their own works for free via the Internet and which has taught them about alternatives.

Basically, the concept is simple – to make VODO a feature of both P2P clients and media players and enable users to make a fair donation when they download or watch a film. Additionally, VODO is supposed to use video fingerprinting in order to unfailingly identify downloaded films so that filmmakers can receive payment. The site says:

“VODO benefits lie in distributing payments out to players and downloading software, making it as trivial as possible for donors to initiate voluntary donations when they feel most ‘connected’ to the artist: at the point of enjoyment of the media.”

Partially supported by grants offered by the British Documentary Film Foundation, the filmmakers turned to their fans for donations. According to them in the first two months since its release, about 0.1 percent of Steal This Film’s viewers compensated the work through donations. They aim at reaching a 15 percent donation rate. It remains to be seen if they are more than…great expectations.