Report: ‘Piracy more popular than ever’

According to content protection and data insights MUSO, global piracy rose by 1.6 per cent over the course of 2017, identifying 300.2 billion visits to piracy websites across music, TV and film, publishing, and software.

More than a third of these visits were to piracy sites hosting television content (106.9 billion); more than music (73.9 billion) and film (53.2 billion) sites. The US topped the list as the country making the most visits to piracy sites (27.9 billion), followed by:

2) Russian Federation (20.6 billion)

3) India (17 billion)

4) Brazil (12.7 billion) visits

5) Turkey (11.9 billion)

6) Japan (10.6 billion)

7) France (10.5 billion)

8) Indonesia (10.4 billion)

9) Germany (10.2 billion)

10) UK (9 billion)

“There is a belief that the rise in popularity of on-demand services – such as Netflix and Spotify – have solved piracy, but that theory simply doesn’t stack up. Our data suggests that piracy is more popular than ever,” said Andy Chatterley, co-founder and CEO, MUSO. “With the data showing us that 53 per cent of all piracy happens on unlicensed streaming platforms, it has become clear that streaming is the most popular way for consumers to access content, whether it be via legitimate channels, or illegitimate ones.”

“The piracy audience is huge and yet for the most part, it’s an opportunity that’s completely ignored. It’s important that the content industries embrace the trends emerging from this data, not only in strategic content protection, but also in understanding the profile of the piracy ‘consumer’ for better business insight and monetising these audiences.”

TV piracy trends

The data has revealed that visits to piracy sites for television content were up 3.4 per cent globally from 2016. With the recent proliferation of Video on Demand (VoD) subscription services, such as Netflix, many would have expected demand for illegitimate content to have significantly dropped, but this is not the case. The vast majority of visits were made via web-streaming sites (96.1 per cent), with access via mobile devices (51.92 per cent) rising up the ranks to become the most popular way of consuming illegitimate content – surpassing desktop for the first time. Towards the end of 2017, torrent-based television piracy had a resurgence, however it was still only responsible for five per cent of all TV piracy.

Film piracy trends

Contrastingly, the use of piracy sites to access films decreased by 2.3 per cent in 2017. Again, users predominantly relied on web-streaming sites to access content, with 32.4 billion visits being streamed from the web, compared to 10.3 billion visits made via public torrent sites and 10.1 billion visits to web download sites. Despite a decrease in overall visits to film piracy sites, access from mobile devices increased considerably, with mobile overtaking desktop by the end of the year – although throughout the year as a whole, desktop just took the edge with 50.09 per cent of all film piracy accessed from these devices. Given the steadily increasing use of mobile for piracy over the past few years, mobile is expected to continue growing and heavily surpass desktop for both film and TV piracy in 2018.

Surprisingly, torrent-based film piracy also increased globally towards the end of 2017. This could be as a result of users becoming frustrated with their regular web-streaming sites being blocked or shutdown, and therefore choosing to return to trusted and more traditional methods of piracy. Piracy by torrenting in film was more frequent than it was in TV in 2017, but still only made up around 20 per cent of all film piracy.

Music piracy trends

Access to piracy websites for music dramatically surged in 2017, increasing to 73.9 billion visits: a 14.7 per cent increase from 2016. Interestingly, music stream-ripper piracy decreased in the second half of the year, down by 33.86 per cent from the first half. This is most likely a result of the leading global stream-ripper site, youtube-mp3.org, being shut down in September, closely followed by several other popular stream-ripping sites later in the year. Stream ripping was the third most popular method of accessing pirated music content, being responsible for 15.7 billion visits throughout the year, beaten by the popularity of web-streaming sites (30.5 billion visits) and web download sites (21.2 billion visits).

Mobile heavily outweighs desktop when it comes to the devices used for accessing pirated music. A sizable 87.13 per cent of visits are through mobile devices, compared to just 12.87 per cent from desktops.

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