In the email sent by Etology to their BitTorrent site customers they write: “Due to the legal implications involved with sponsoring torrent sites, our management team has made the decision to remove from our network torrent sites that promote copyrighted content.”
They probably mean “promote sharing of copyrighted content”, but that’s a minor detail. According to Etology this move is needed in order to to minimize risk for their advertisers. It is not sure what the risk is, but apparently some of their bigger clients don’t what their ads to appear on BitTorrent sites. At this point it is not clear if only BitTorrent sites are affected, or also the huge list of warez sites in their ad network.
Most companies don’t want to be associated with sites that offer links to copyrighted material. Others see it as a great outlet to advertise their products, last year Wal-Mart placed targeted ads for DVDs of popular TV-shows such as “The Sopranos”, “Smallville”, “Desperate Housewives” on The Pirate Bay during the holiday season. The ads appeared on pages that linked to corresponding torrents.
Etology served ads for Demonoid, Torrent-Finder, TorrentReactor, TorrentPond, BTScene and several other sites. There are still some options for BitTorrent site owners to monetize their websites, with Adbrite as the leading ad provider. Other alternatives are CPX Interactive, AuctionAds, ShoppingAds and unfortunately plenty of adult and gambling related programs.