If You Think Piracy Is Decreasing, You Haven’t Looked at the Data…

The following comes from Robert Steele, president and COO at DMN partner Rightscorp.

In speaking with people both inside and outside the entertainment industry over the last few years, I’ve been fascinated with what appears to be a general consensus that internet piracy isn’t the problem it once was.  When I tell people that I help protect artists’ rights on the internet and collect payments from people who are file-sharing music and movies without permission, people often say, “hasn’t streaming eliminated piracy?” or “I thought they shut that down?” or “didn’t they get sued?”

First, I think those that care about distribution of media without compensation on the internet have progressed from outrage to fatigue, then to resignation, and ultimately to acceptance and its cousin, denial.  The U.S. Copyright Office put out a report in February 2015 titled, Copyright and the Music Marketplace where regarding piracy, the editor stated, “Unlike in the Napster era, stakeholders now seem resigned to this marketplace condition and the perhaps irreversible impact it has had on the industry.”1

Second, it may be that any news that looks even remotely hopeful sets the tone and does so regardless of its full accuracy. Billboard ran an article in 2013, “Business Matters: How Netflix Reduces Piracy,” quoting Netflix’s chief content officer as saying that “BitTorrent traffic drops as the Netflix traffic grows” when the service launches in a territory.  Netflix launched streaming in the United States in 2008 and Canada in 2010.

We applaud Netflix, but the fact remains that file-sharing in North America has grown in the US by 44% since 2008.


BitTorrent responded to this assertion by saying that their technology will “reduce BitTorrent traffic during times of peak Internet usage to give priority to other types of Internet activity – such as that utilized by Netflix. When people use apps like Netflix, then, yes, the BitTorrent traffic is reduced, but not because Netflix is replacing piracy, but because the protocol is designed to work that way.”



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