Yes, that's right. Someone actually bothered to do a study, crunch the numbers, and come to the same conclusion as everyone else -- blocking pirate sites does nothing to stop piracy. Fact.
Researchers from Boston Northeastern University carried out a study to determine how effective various anti-piracy strategies were, including blockades and censorship. By monitoring thousands of files, across various file-hosting services, the researchers tracked the availability of pirated media. They discovered that takedown notices, which Big Media fires out willy-nilly, basically do nothing to reduce the availability of copyrighted material.
Also, their research pinpointed an actual uptick in pirated media available on various file-hosting sites after MegaUpload got shut down, which is exactly what we've assumed before. In fact, there are something like 10,000 different domains hosting pirated content, spread over 5,000 separate IP addresses across the internet -- you're never going to kill them all.
The boffins from Boston therefore came to the conclusion that regular techniques employed by Big Media are basically worthless, and that the only real way to curb piracy is to follow the money. By stopping pirate sites from taking payments, though things like PayPal, you cut off their funding and they eventually fold. Although the researchers conclude that actually, no matter what you do to try and stop piracy, technology outstretches legislation.
"Given our findings that highlight the difficulties of reducing the supply of pirated content, it appears to be promising to follow a complementary strategy of reducing the demand for pirated content, e.g., by providing legitimate offers that are more attractive to consumers than pirating content."
Common sense one would think, but maybe Big Media will finally get the wake-up call it needs, now that there's some hard statistical research on the matter. Pah, who am I kidding -- they'll probably just take away the fact that nuking payment processors is the way to go. [NEU SecLab (PDF) via Torrent Freak]