Of the Infocalypse.
A. The media and authority's version of what happened:
Case study I. Child Pornographers:
Feds: 100 Arrested in Child Porn Busthttp://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92686&page=1#.TvjV-4HdKuM
One hundred people have been arrested as part of an undercover sting investigation into the largest known commercial child pornography business ever uncovered, U.S. government officials said today.B. Random internet experts' version of what happened:http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2589936&cid=38485672
The two-year investigation began with Landslide Productions Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas, company owned by Thomas and Janice Reedy. Authorities said the company was at the center of an international child pornography business that distributed lewd pictures of children having sex to subscribers over the Internet. . . . .
Landslide grossed as much as $1.4 million in one month alone, the profits coming from monthly fees viewers paid to access child pornography Web sites, authorities said. Called Operation Avalanche, the undercover operation was based on intelligence developed from the Landslide investigation and encompassed 30 federally funded task forces formed to combat Internet crimes against children.
"During an Operation Avalanche search, we found a collection of videotapes produced by a suspect depicting the sexual abuse of several young girls. One of the girls was only 4 years old," said Chief Postal Inspector Kenneth C. Weaver.
The Reedys were convicted last year on charges that included sexual exploitation of minors and distribution of child pornography. A federal judge on Monday sentenced Thomas Reedy, 37, to life in prison and his 32-year-old wife, Janice, to 14 years in prison. . . . .
(1) Expert #1
There is no such thing as 'child porn sites' that take any payment. One must be a child molester and deliver 'original content' in order to be accepted in trading rings. This is well documented by the police and explain the difficulty for them to infiltrate the child pornography networks. eg: They will not rape a child to be accepted and gather evidence.(2) Expert #2
Intro note for the folks who will ask "How do you know this stuff?" - I did some "e-commerce investigative lead development" for the Internal Revenue Service before I recently retired. As a result, I know a lot more about the way porn is sold online than I need or want to. Most porn companies just want to pay their taxes, minimized as far as their accountants can manage, and be left alone. On this particular sub-topic I can provide some insight.
Landslide was active from, per your link, 1997 to 1999. That was back when pictures of naked kids that were perfectly legal in some countries were considered porn in other countries. From a U.S. legal perspective, Landslide helped those markets equalize and that is, to be sure, facilitating the sale of child porn. The view from the producing countries was that U.S. puritanism was killing a small industry that was providing cash that fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated people who were badly in need of help. They couldn't understand why we criminalize pictures of what they could see just by going to the beach on a warm summer day.
The amount of actual, nobody-could-possibly-argue-to-the-contrary child porn showing adults raping little kids that was sold with the assistance of Landslide was insignificant to nonexistent. Some of their customers possessed bad materials and you'll note that in your link the phrasing of the police spokesman ("During an Operation Avalanche search, we found a collection of videotapes...") makes it clear that the unambiguously bad stuff they found wasn't sold via Landslide but was merely found in the possession of Landslide customers. The Landslide bust, more than anything else, gave the police probable cause to execute search warrants on the customers. Making up the lists of customers, getting the warrants, and executing them was a separate action from the Landslide bust; it was called Operation Avalanche. There's nothing in the linked article to indicate that the real CP uncovered during Avalanche was actually sold by Landslide but it's pretty clear from the way the article is written that either the author or the LEO sources from which the info was obtained would like the reader to confuse these two and not realize that they were separate operations.
There's dubious LEO-spawned "look how we're making the world a better place" PR-spew designed to demonize a couple of folks who ran a credit card processing service. There's also facts. Please stop confusing the two.
tl;dr - GP was basically right. There are always (literally, in the entire world, counting the WWW, .onion sites, and Freenet) one or two "child porn sites" that take payment but they never survive long. They're a statistical blip. It is essentially correct (and, often, perfectly correct) to say that such sites do not exist, deliberately misleading LEO press releases notwithstanding.