Research Claims Online Piracy is More Popular Than Ever

By Tom Pritchard on at

Despite the best attempts to quell online piracy and make sure people pay for their media, some new research has bad news. Bad news for the rights holders anyway, because the results suggest that online piracy is actually more popular than it's ever been.

This conclusion comes from piracy tracking organisation MUSO, which analysed the visitor data from tens of thousands of the net's most popular pirate sites. A report on the state of the piracy landscape in 2017 found that there were over 300 billion visits to pirate websites, which is a 1.6 per cent increase over 2016.

The most popular sites were pirate streaming sites, which accounted for 53 per cent of the total traffic. Presumably that's because they're easy to find, and even easier to use, whereas some people can be intimidated by torrenting. Sites that offered torrents and direct downloads still had a significant following, but weren't nearly as popular.

The biggest pirating nation was the USA with a total of 27.9 billion visits, closely followed by Russia, India, and Brazil with 20.6 billion, 17 billion, and 12.7 billion visits respectively. The UK is down in 10th place with a comparatively measly 9 billion. TorrentFreak also notes that while often portrayed as a big nation of pirates, China only came in at 18th with 4.6 billion visits - nearly half that of the UK.

MUSO also found that TV was the most popular form of piracy with 106.9 billion visits, followed by music (73.9 billion) and film (53.2 billion). It also noted that TV piracy on mobile was higher than desktops for the first time (52 per cent), and MUSO also expects film piracy to pick up on mobiles this year. Music piracy is more pronounced on mobile, accounting for 87 per cent of all visits.

Interestingly MUSO's report seems to corroborate past research that claims access to legitimate streaming services like Netflix and Spotify doesn't do much to stop people pirating content - something MUSO CEO Andy Chatterley specifically called out. While we don't have the data to show trends over significant enough periods of time, it's obvious that piracy isn't going away anytime soon.

Plus it's worth mentioning that MUSO's data only shows people visiting pirate sites, not the 'industry' as a whole. It doesn't include data from the popular illegal streaming services that take advantage of things like Kodi for one thing, though that doesn't detract from the conclusions. Piracy is big, and even if it does end up decreasing over the next few years it's still going to be a while before it's gone for good. [TorrentFreak]


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