For copyright holders, we’ve got good news and bad news. Let’s start with the good: visits to pirate sites in the UK dropped to 5.75 billion in 2018. That may sound like pretty limited good news, given it’s still a huge number, but if you think that’s not great, then here’s the bad news: piracy worldwide hit 190 billion visits over the year.
The data comes from piracy tracker MUSO, which revealed that the UK is ninth overall. Unsurprisingly, piracy levels correlate pretty closely by how populous the nation, which the United States (17.4bn), the Russian Federation (14.5bn), Brazil (10.3bn) and India (9.6bn) topping the league.
But while developed markets saw some decline on 2017 levels, the alarming area for rights holders is the growth in pirate consumption in developing markets. Brazil saw an increase of 12.5% while Indonesia (eighth on the list with 6 billion visits) grew 9% year on year.
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“Digital piracy is still prevalent globally,” said Andy Chatterley, CEO and co-founder of MUSO. “Television is the most popular content for piracy and given the fragmentation of content across multiple streaming services perhaps this isn’t surprising.”
“Almost 60% of all piracy visits are to unlicensed web streaming sites, mirroring trends in legal consumption, which is moving away from ownership to on-demand,” he added. “Public torrent networks, once the main method of piracy delivery, now only equates to 13% of piracy visit activity.”
MUSO’s UK-specific data shows a decline, even in the streaming piracy sector. While there were 4.5 billion visits recorded in 2017, this fell to 3.9 billion in 2018. The biggest drop was for music, which fell from 248 million to 133 million, year-on-year, while TV streaming remained relatively stable, dropping just over 200 million to 3.2 billion visits.
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Whether this drop is down to legal streaming services making things easier to consume, or thanks to copyright holders’ efforts to block content is less clear. But it seems that the approach of getting search engines to take down links is, at best, a double-edged sword. “Interestingly, in 2018 we have seen a ten percent increase in people bypassing search engines and going directly to the piracy destination of their choice,” Chatterley explains. “Simply focussing on takedowns is clearly a whack-a-mole approach and, while an essential part of any content protection strategy, it needs to be paired with more progressive thinking.
“With the right mindsight, piracy audiences can offer huge value to rights holders.”
Have legal streaming services reduced piracy? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.