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Global Piracy in 2017: TV and Music Illegal Activity Rose, While Film Declined

Digital pirates continued to swarm over entertainment in 2017, even with the rise of legal streaming services like Netflix and Spotify.

Worldwide, users made a total of 300 billion visits to internet piracy sites last year, up 1.6% from 2016, according to antipiracy consulting firm Muso. But while illegal streaming and downloads of TV shows and music increased in 2017, film piracy actually declined, Muso’s analysis showed.

TV accounted for more than one-third of the reported global piracy activity, with 106.9 billion visits, followed by music (73.9 billion) and film (53.2 billion). Muso also looked at piracy in publishing and software.

Around 53% of total piracy occurred on unlicensed streaming platforms, and it’s much higher in the U.S. for television (94%) and movie (77%) content.

“Our data suggests that piracy is more popular than ever,” said Muso CEO Andy Chatterley. “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.”

Actually, the level of piracy activity in 2017 was even higher than Muso reported. The firm now tracks data from China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and North Korea, but excluded those countries from its year-over-year comparison between 2016 and 2017.

As in past years, the United States was the No. 1 home to digital pirates, accounting for 27.9 billion visits to piracy sites in 2017, according to Muso. The U.S. was followed by Russia (20.6 billion), India (17 billion), Brazil (12.7 billion), Turkey (11.9 billion), Japan (10.6 billion), France (10.5 billion), Indonesia (10.4 billion), Germany (10.2 billion), and the U.K. (9.0 billion).

TV piracy, measured by visits to piracy sites, rose 3.4% globally in 2017. Toward the end of the year, torrent-based television piracy had a resurgence, but it still accounted for only 5% of all TV piracy, according to Muso. Music piracy jumped 14.7% from 2016, even with the shutdown of “stream-ripper” sites last year including youtube-mp3.org.

Film piracy, by contrast, decreased by 2.3% last year even as torrent-based activity also increased globally toward the end of 2017 (making up 20% of all film piracy). Muso speculated that shift toward peer-to-peer downloads could have resulted from illicit video-streaming sites being blocked or shut down.

In terms of devices, piracy continues to skew heavily toward mobile. About 87% percent of visits to piracy sites are via mobile devices, compared with 13% percent from desktop computers.

London-based Muso was founded in 2009. The company claims to maintain the industry’s largest database on visits to and activity around piracy sites. Muso pitches itself as able to help content owners protect their intellectual property as well as assist them in developing strategies for monetizing consumers who engage in piracy.

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