NBCU-Backed Study: Online Piracy Continues to Rise Dramatically

Internet Piracy

Megaupload seizure cited in decline of cyberlocker activity

With Capitol Hill lawmakers once again poised to scrutinize the state of online piracy, a new study commissioned by the entertainment industry shows a rapid increase in Internet infringement in recent years, to almost one-fourth of all bandwidth in North America, Europe and Asia.

The 100-page report from NetNames showed that infringing bandwith use rose by 159.3% between 2010 and 2012, or 23.8% of the total of all Internet use in the three regions. It also showed that 327 million unique Internet users “explicitly sought” infringing content during January 2013, a jump of almost 10% from November, 2011, and representing 25.9% of the total Internet user population in the three regions.

The report —- financed by NBCUniversal — is being cited by showbiz executives and some lawmakers as concrete evidence that despite stepped up enforcement efforts and a series of other measures, piracy is still persistent and even worsening. It was released on Tuesday, the day before a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on voluntary initiatives that have been implemented between the entertainment industry and other industries, like Internet providers, ad networks and payment processors.

The report showed progress in fighting piracy in one area: Cyberlockers. The seizure of MegaUpload in January, 2012, followed by the closure of other direct download cyberlockers, showed “the ability of a successful antipiracy action to really have a disruptive effect on the ecosystem,” said David Price, director of piracy analysis at NetNames. According to the study, 338 petabytes of data was used for infringing uses on cyberlockers in the three regions in 2012, a decrease of 54.7% decrease from 2010. But the study showed increases in piracy consumption via BitTorrent peer-to-peer sites and video streaming.

Although Price said that the figures show how online piracy can react to events like “closures and seizures,” his report concluded that the “practice of piracy itself morphs to altered circumstances, with the use of video streaming and bittorrent escalating as direct download cyberlockers fell away.”

As of now, standalone anti-piracy legislation still appears unlikely, after the Hollywood lobby suffered a stinging defeat in January 2012 with the failure of the Stop Online Piracy Act, in the face of an unprecedented protest from Internet firms and users. But the dynamics could change, as the House Judiciary Committee has also launched a series of hearings on remaking copyright laws, undoubtedly touching on issues that could have an impact on anti-piracy initiatives.

Price said that the increase in infringing Internet use is going up faster than overall Internet consumption in North America, Asia and Europe. The report showed that video streaming consumption of all kinds rose by 170% between 2010 and 2012, but that consumption of infringing video streams rose by 470%.

Price said that the study did not count consumption of legitimate content on BitTorrent sites, nor did it include pornography.

Even before the report was released, there was some criticism from orgs that have often pushed back against stricter anti-piracy measures. Matt Schruers, vice president of law and policy at the Computer and Communications Industry Assn., expressed doubts in a blog post that the study would distinguish between legitimate and nonlegitimate BitTorrent traffic.

The report was unveiled on Tuesday morning at a Capitol Hill event featuring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), cochairs of the International Anti-Piracy Caucus. “Copyright infringement is, as the report’s author states, ‘tenacious and persistent,’ and our efforts must be tenacious and persistent,” Hatch said.


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  1. Neel Gupta says:

    A business that does not adapt & innovate for the needs of it’s generation, will go out of business in that generation.

  2. harry georgatos says:

    Piracy will thrive with the escalating cost of cinema tickets! In Sydney Australia an adult ticket for a standard session is $23!! Also films from Hollywood are delayed from their American release for holiday seasons in most other countries and overseas audiences can’t wait for the release of films and are tempted to download movies from the internet. There should be simultaneous worldwide release of films to limit piracy at affordable prices! If the entertainment industry wants to limit piracy then content has to find it’s way quicker to home entertainment and it’s time to tell cinemas to go and get stuffed!!!!
    Who wants to be stuck in a auditorium with screaming teenagers and hoons or crying minors. Also people who engage in conversation on their mobiles or try to find car parking shopping malls. The future of distribution is home entertainment. Cinemas know that if 80% of people had a choice of watching a film in a cinema or the privacy, comfort and security of their homes most would choose to stay at home and watch movies!!!! First-run movies should be available at the same time to watch it on home entertainment or for those few who want to go to a cinema. Movies should be available at the same time on all formats! With the sophistication of home entertainment will be the future of film distribution. Adapt or die. Piracy will be a thing of the past as content becomes available world-wide at the same moment for everyone around the globe. No more cinemas with unpleasant distractions at unaffordable prices!!

  3. Joe Smart says:

    The easiest way to reduce piracy is to make legitimate options for watching movies and television shows more affordable. Cable television bills go up an average of 15% a year and have simply become too expensive for a large portion of the population. Going to the movies is hardly a bargain either–the average ticket is over ten dollars for a first run movie and it rises every year. If you have a family going to the movies can cost as much as a trip to the grocery store. The studios have eliminated second run theaters, which is where poorer people could check out movies if they couldn’t afford first run. If the studios and cable companies keep raising prices they are going to drive more and more people towards piracy.

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