As 2021 began, Rights Alliance celebrated the shut-down of the last two Denmark-based pirate sites as a sign that piracy was under control. Instead, the Rights Alliance 2021 Report found that piracy has simply relocated. While some consumers moved to legal streaming sites, others continued with piracy sites.
Consumption of illegal content via file sharing services declined but that decline was offset by the rise of access to private sources shared over closed social groups or through private messaging, according to the Report. Pirates also sell access to content services via passwords stolen by industrial-scale hacking, as well as other forms of fraud.
Fraudulent advertising “steals” the reputations of actors, media and institutions, with the goal of getting Danes to invest in fake bitcoins or participate in fake competitions.
Popcorn Time is still a thing
It was widely reported that the Popcorn Time pirate site had shut down, “due to a lack of interest,” Instead, Rights Alliance reported that Popcorn Time was the number three destination for stolen content in 2021.
YouTube and Facebook
While Popcorn Time ranked number three, who were numbers one and two?
2021 research from Sweden-based MediaVision quoted by the Rights Alliance report found that 54% of stolen content consumed by Danes was via YouTube, and 31% was over Facebook.
On the plus side
Site blocking has had a dramatic effect. As the last Denmark-based streaming sites, NordicBits and DanishBits, were shut down, pirate traffic quickly dropped. **
By establishing a Code of Conduct and by collaborating with ISPs to block mirror sites, Rights Alliance reported blocking of 175 illegal domains, resulting in an 82.7% average reduction in traffic. 48% of these blocked services were file sharing services. Anti-fraud enforcement was also up.
Rights Alliance also began using specialized tools which automatically blocked 7,500 movies uploaded to Facebook and YouTube every month. The organization also discovered and removed 26 scam ads from Facebook, and every month removes approximately 600 ads advertising counterfeit goods.
Focus for 2022
Rights Alliance will continue to publicize criminal convictions and their consequences in 2022, in an effort to influence public opinion about piracy, and will also be doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work. This includes refinement of its anti-piracy tools and availability of those tools to Rights Alliance members. The organization will also continue to work closely with government and law enforcement agencies as the country’s Intellectual Property unit is transferred from the police to Denmark’s office of the State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime (SØIK).
** Note added December 2022: Press releases by SØIK and Rights Alliance referred to an entity called DanishBits in press releases in 2022 and prior. Starting later in 2022, it has been referred to as DanishBytes.
Why it matters
Rights Alliance investigations will be informed by these piracy trends, to help ensure that enforcement methods evolve with the threats.