Direct or one-click download websites like Megaupload, Megavideo and Rapidshare have been identified by a recent report published by MarkMonitor as being amongst the most popular illegal file-sharing websites on the internet.
How big are they? Well, according to site analytics website Alexa, all of them are bigger than social networking website Myspace.com with some even larger websites like 4shared.com and hotfiles.com known only to their regular users.
Altogether, the 43 websites analysed by MarkMonitor account pull in roughly half the amount of visits as Wikipedia and the big three download websites get around 40 per cent of the total number of visitors globally visiting those sites.
Although they do not provide with a directly visible link (i.e. one's that indexable by mainstream search engines like Google), there are literally dozens of specialised search robots that do the hard job for the user and these are easily identifiable via Google.
In addition, hundreds of websites and forums post regularly refreshed links to pirated content which makes it very difficult for the service providers and content owners to eliminate them easily.
It is exceedingly hard to find out how much traffic is generated by pirated content compared to legal one. However, most major one-click download websites provide with rewards for popular (and very popular) downloads.
Megaupload for example gives up to $10,000 when an account reaches 10m downloads; Rapidshare Rapidpoints scheme was discontinued last year on the grounds that there were claims that the rewards programme encouraged the uploading of copyrighted content. Not surprisingly, the traffic going to Rapidshare has been going down ever since.