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Building a Free Download Directory Website For Selling Ad Space

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New Contributor
Sep 20, 2019
I am looking to start a website that is a free download directory for creative professionals. The site will include all types of free downloads including stock videos, photos, powerpoint templates, photoshop templates, fonts, icons, and much more.

What will be different about this website is that I will be getting all of this content from other free download websites. Also, I will not be hosting any of the free downloads on my website as this would be illegal redistribution of other people's content.

So on the page that each specific free download is on, there will be a link that directs the user to the website where the content originated and where the user can download it there for free.

Again, my website is a directory of free downloads. To actually get the free download, the user will follow a link that will direct back to the original website. So I am not redistributing any content. I am just displaying the content and providing a link back to the original website.

I wanted to know if this would cause any legal trouble?

In order to display some of these free downloads, I would need to show previews. For example, for the images, I was thinking about adding a watermark to the image, so users can’t just download the image off of my website and they would have to download it on the original creator's website. So I would actually have the image up on my site which I obtained for free and it would be watermarked so that no one could download it from my website.

Again, I am not sure if this would cause any legal issues.

I would also add watermarks to stock videos and other free downloads that would keep users from downloading the content directly off of my website.

The goal with the site is to generate a large amount of traffic and then run ads. So the business model would simply be income from ads from google adsense (and ad platforms like this) and ads from contacting marketplaces personally.

Any information that anyone had on the legality of this idea or any comments or feedback on the idea would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you and Merry Christmas everyone!

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Legendary Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Speedway Pass
Oct 3, 2015
Phoenix, AZ
I really don't understand the point of doing this. The biggest problem I see is that you'll have to solve the problem of getting traffic to the website. This is not trivial, as it requires either consistent back linking and content creation, or paid ads. If you solve this problem for a directory type website, why wouldn't you just host the content yourself and find some other business model that didn't rely on the good graces of google adsense?

If YouTube has taught us anything, it's that businesses built around ad monetization are not viable in the long run. All it takes is one change to the CPM for your business to be operating at a massive loss.

It also violates multiple commandments of the CENTS framework. There is no real need for an aggregator site for stock images and video.. I've never had to leave pixabay to find what I need (for free, no less), and I'm probably not alone in that. My guess is that people have their go to site and stick with that, with a rare venture to other sites for the odd thing they can't find on their go to.

It also violates the commandment of control. You don't own the content, and you don't control the pricing of the ads (at least, with adsense you don't).

The TL;DR is that it's a boatload of work for negligible return. If you're going to put in all that work, come up with a proper business model and host the content yourself.

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