Top Sites

I saw the MPAA’s “Pyramid of Internet Piracy” on Digg this morning, and I’m curious if anyone knows what a “Top Site” is (without reading the PDF file below I mean)? I’ve spent countless hours educating myself on everything related to my MPAA case, and this one is new to me.

…clusters of high speed computers known as “Topsites.” The extraordinary speed and power of a Topsite triggers the avalanche that is global Internet piracy.

{scratching head} All I know is clusters of high speed computers with extraordinary speed and power are f’ing expensive (I happen to have first hand knowledge of this – gets so much traffic that I’m in the process of building out web and database clusters because a couple servers can’t handle the traffic).

Forgetting about the legality of running a “Topsite” for a second, from a pure business standpoint, why in hell would anyone spend what I can only assume is 6 figures on server clusters to distribute something for free? Whoever is running these “Topsites” should find something better to do with their money/resources IMO. Then again, maybe Topsite servers are cheap (but still having extraordinary speed and power). If that’s the case, maybe I should have purchased some Topsite servers and converted them into web/database servers and saved some money. 🙂

I Googled “Top Site(s)” and “Topsite(s)” and I couldn’t find any information about it.

I always thought “top sites” were those stupid directories that list the top 10 sites for a category or whatever…

According to the MPAA’s pyramid of piracy, (which has partnered with MPAA) is a “Facilitator” (see previous post). Strange.

From this: // (don’t ask me why they insist on using PDFs for everything, including images)

I hope the MPAA won’t sue me for using their image. Oh wait, they already are… my bad.

15 thoughts on “Top Sites”

  1. I read this really good article about them either in Wired or on Slashdot several years ago. Before you ask yourself why spend money on running a topsite, ask why spend your time cracking copy protection schemes or film new movies in the theater? If you are smart enough to do either you can probably earn quite a bit of moeny in a normal career.

    From the article I read (wish I knew where it was), warez groups, or in this case movies) have a psychological hierachy much like a gang. People are willing to invest lots of time and sometimes money in order to become members. In order to get in you have to do something special, be it provide the product (ie: an employee at Best Buy having access to a game before it goes on the store shelves), defeat the copy protection scheme, be a “courier” and move the files from one location to the next, or donate money for servers.

    From what I have seen with website owners complaining about stolen content (in this case adult), it appears that often these topsites are actually run be employees at a hosting company, often without the owner’s knowledge.

    I think they also used hijacked machines where the security may be lax. I think there was some case a while ago where the FBI created a honeypot server, some warez group started using it as a topsite, and all along the FBI were collecting all their IPs and stuff.

  2. You know what I love about my blog? I can ask pretty much any question, and someone always knows the answer. 🙂


  3. Well damn (from Wired article)…

    “Outside of a pirate elite and the Feds who track them, few know that topsites exist.”

    I guess I’m one of the ones that didn’t know they exist (until now).

  4. If i remember correctly… “TopSites” are usually hacked servers that are hijacked to distribute the content. Usually they exist in University datacenters where a fat pipe and large storage is almost guaranteed.

  5. What gets me is that they’re not expending all their prodigious efforts to zap the Topsites. All this money they’re spending in lawsuits could probably go a LONG way to finding the real sources of the infringements- but that’s not what they’re on about. This isn’t about infringements, it’s about “who’s in control”.

  6. Our network servers were hijacked for a little while for this same reason (college in a university, I love my ‘fat pipe’). We subsequently booted them off, put some security in place to keep them out. They decided to work around the new security, and try again. We found out, kicked them off, and fixed the hole. As we were assessing whether to move to a new firewall, they broke in and completely FUBAR’d our domain server and a couple other servers. We had to COMPLETELY rebuild them, from the ground up, and this resulted in a network down of about 2 days (even with backup servers ready to go). There were people working on this around the clock.

    Since then the security has gotten completely reworked and we haven’t had another incident since, but that retaliation (waaaaa we can’t use your servers so neither will you 🙁 ) cost several of the businesses that operate within the college a lot of time and money.

    I generally don’t follow the piracy ring too much, but this really hit close to home. I don’t support the MPAA’s actions, and they’re not even getting near the people who they need to (those upper-pyramid types), and maybe the outcome of your situation will let them know that what they’re doing is not making anything better.

  7. Andrew pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    The scene definatly has a heirarchy and many of these so called “topsites” are hacked universities that are running ftp’s so that the groups can fxp between them at insanely high speeds.

    The MPAA has it pretty much right with their idiotic picture but in the scene it’s mostly like this:

    Internal Releases > FTP > mIRC > Torrents > P2P (Kazaa, etc)

    Although it’s arguable that some of the top ftp and mIRC servers have the same speeds but people do invest a lot of time and energy into the scene and most of the time the servers are hacked ftp’s on universities and such.

    It’s all about “respect” at the end of the day.

  8. Seem’s a little far fetched to me..I’m sure its like this to some extent but this makes it seem like a drug cartel. To some extent I think theres more cam>bittorrent going on. The topsites I imagine would be more for people in china/latin america who are burning/selling pirated dvds. In those areas it really is run like a gang

  9. I know this comment comes a bit late, but I only had found recently the english thingy so that my original link I wanted to post a month ago would make sense and be usefull for you (non german) english speakers.

    Soon, the industry makes its next fatal mistake. After the investigations failed, the industry seeks its chance in fighting the consumers. They declare war on millions of users and thus their own customers. In 2004 the industry starts a campaign, labeling thousands of customers “criminals”. Until 2006 the RIAA sues more than 16,000 music fans, who had downloaded MP3s for private use.
    The entertainment industry started a war on two fronts. It started a war against a 25-year-old, organized underground subculture which the industry had created itself and could not stop. But their greatest hubris was to fight against the whole net culture.

    As a protest against the industry’s sanctions, millions all over the world now program free software, share data, information, and knowledge. Not only as a part of a subculture, not only in the underground but anywhere and with anyone. The age of free culture, the second Internet revolution begins,
    it begins now …[/qoute]

    The original 10 minutes (german narrated) creative commons video with historical footage can be found in avi high quality at
    The full english text script from the page of the creators of the movie here also with the soundfiles and the moviecredits as a txt file to use.

    So Shawn, if they already accuse YOU of destroying them wouldn’t it be nice if you would narrate this “educational”videoin english? (of course only if you have an appealing movievoice) 😉 If not maybe some of those famous actors you are “destroying” is willing to create a version for the “american market” 😛

  10. Those are not topsites. Nothing you are reading about or gonna learn from public sources are topsites. Topsites are the top… the best of the best. They dont exist. What you are talking about are sites. FTPs. Not topsites. To the guy who complained about the hacked servers… Those were not even sites. Those were fxp groups using your networks bandwidth/pipe to distribute warez via FXP boards. They have filler, racers and scanners. If you are interested in learning more, drop a message here.

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