If you’ve ever wondered about the underworld of online piracy, some fascinating details about the financial side of the illegal streaming market have been uncovered.

In an interview with TorrentFreak, a so-called pirate, who claimes to have been behind the illegal upload of 30,000 films and hundreds of thousands of unauthorized streaming links, explained the financial incentives of piracy.

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,” the pirate, identified only as John, told TorrentFreak.

“In order to make money, you have to ‘own’ the links. The links come from file hosts. A file host is someone like YouTube or the now defunct MegaVideo. Of course there are hundreds of others out there and many of them have public, and often times private, affiliate programs,” he continued.

Through affiliate schemes, the ad money generated by clicks and views is collected and then divvied up between file hosters and uploaders. John rakes in $1 to $2 per 1,000 views of a film or TV show. That may not sound like a lot, but given his vast catalog, he makes a “nice living” off his piracy work.

[via Gizmodo]