Contrary to reports by various organizations that video piracy over the past year has been trending downward in Europe and South Asia and has been relatively flat in the UK, it rose by 16% over a 9 month period worldwide in 2021, according to a report by Akamai Technologies, citing data collected by MUSO’s piracy detection platform.
“The data in this report represents both torrented and streamed content,” said James Mason, CTO of MUSO. Overall, more than 3.7 billion unlicensed streams and downloads were measured for this report.
A range of piracy use-cases are detailed in the report. One example was a three-hour live sports event in the United States, in which about 4 million (out of 18 million transaction records overall) were identified as suspect. Among the suspect group, the platform identified 39 suspect referral links, nearly 7,000 VPN addresses and more than 34,000 shared tokens.
Taking a snapshot of piracy between January and December 2021:
- Television was the most pirated category, with more than 67 billion visits. The average number of piracy visits per-user over the nine month study period was about 20, with the most visitors coming from the US, followed by Russia and China. Anime was high in demand
- Publishing was the second largest pirated category, with about 9 visits per user over the nine month study period; with the most request traffic coming from the US, Japan and Russia. Manga was in high demand.
- Movies were number three, with 14.5 billion Web site visits and an average of about 4.3 visits per Internet user. The top infringing domain represented about 17% of the traffic delivered.
- Music and Software were numbers 4 and 5 respectively.
Akamai’s Managed Content Platform integrates with detection and monitoring solutions, including MUSO’s, to help media owners and distributors identify and monitor infringing streams, file downloads and servers. Once identified, technical countermeasures can be put in place in distribution and elsewhere.
Other report highlights include:
- Globally, the top five locations for Web site visits in 2021, in order, were the United States (13.5 billion), followed by Russia (7.2 billion), India (6.5 billion), China (5.9 billion), and Brazil (4.5 billion).
- A total of 132 billion visits to piracy websites occurred between January 2021 and September 2021.
- 61.5% of consumers who visited piracy sites accessed them directly, while 28.6% actively searched for them.
Why it matters
“The arc of video piracy over time has, so far, been similar to the early days of music piracy. Once they became available, consumers migrated to subscription music services like Spotify and piracy went way down,” said MUSO’s James Mason. “This moment hasn’t quite arrived for video, but piracy does decline once legal streaming services become available that offer content relevant to local demand,” he said.
Pirates profit handsomely from their activities and are highly motivated to keep their sites up and running. Those defending against piracy often lack visibility and context, and without the ability to identify and monitor infringing traffic, they can’t stop it by using technological countermeasures such as stream blocking or credential revocation.
One mystery remained: Why the report’s title used a baseball metaphor when there’s no mention of baseball in the report. It could be that the unidentified three-hour US sporting event profiled in the report was a baseball game, which do last about three hours… But this is mere speculation.