Online piracy

The online piracy landscape

With the popularity of the internet and technology evolving rapidly, more and more people are choosing to consume their content online.

Whether it’s from a mobile phone, tablet or smart TV, online digital consumption is increasing and becoming the people’s choice for accessing film, TV, music, books, software and games, with 59% of UK internet users consuming content online.

However, with this increase and demand for online consumption also comes piracy and as broadband speeds become faster and more affordable, businesses from across the creative industries are seeing more content being pirated and illegally accessed online.

A recent survey from the IPO discovered 25% of internet users consuming content online have accessed at least one item illegally.

The creative industries play a large part in supporting international businesses, economies and jobs – generating $2,250 billion of revenue and 29.5 million jobs worldwide. Therefore, it is essential that these industries and the people working within them are protected.

Risks of pirate websites

Often pirate sites will feature advertising to help give the site a look of legitimacy but most importantly to the criminals behind them generate lucrative revenue. A report published in 2014 revealed that the top pirate sites generated $227 million in advertising revenue.

Pirate sites are online havens for theft, enabling criminals to profit from content or intellectual property they had nothing to do with creating. The potential harm from these rogue sites is profound. They have been found to expose visitors to viruses, malware, fraud and scams. Research by the Industry Trust discovered that 97% of the most visited illegal film and TV sites contain malware or credit card scams and that 3 in 4 people experienced problems with their device after visiting pirate websites.

Types of online piracy

There are many different types of websites that provide unlawful access to copyrighted content such as films, music, TV, games and software

Streaming site

Illegal streaming allows you to view unauthorised copyrighted content on demand without downloading the illegal file. Websites may stream directly or provide links to content hosted on other websites. Both hosting unauthorised content and providing links to unauthorised content is illegal. These sites are often user friendly, with content divided into categories such as genre, year or language.

Cyberlockers

Cyberlockers are file-storage and file-sharing services for various media file types, such as photos, videos and sound files. They offer fast, convenient and anonymous distribution of content, which can be downloaded or streamed and quite often these sites are generating significant income through subscription services. Cyberlockers are unsearchable so infringing content is shared on blogs, forums and social media

P2P

P2P or peer-to-peer sharing sites allows the sharing of digital files among “peers”. When using a peer-to-peer network you are allowing files stored on your computer to be available for copying by other users. You can then transfer exact copies of these files from one computer to another. Although it is legal to share large amounts of data or files, more often than not it is used to exchange copyrighted material illegally.

While people may believe their files are only available to a few friends, these files can be accessed by millions of people all over the world who are part of the same P2P network. The default setting for most P2P networks ensures that individuals downloading files are simultaneously uploading files, which means if you download movies you are also distributing illegal content to others. By allowing strangers to access files on your computer, private files could also become accessible and put you at risk.

Linking sites

Linking websites collate thousands of links to pirated content often stored on external cyberlockers. These sites are prolific in copyright infringement as cyberlockers are not searchable

Torrent sites

Film release groups upload and share content on private torrent sites that rely on donations from members.

The material eventually makes its way onto public torrent sites, where it can be downloaded by anyone.

How do we tackle online piracy?

At FACT we have developed numerous tactical approaches and solutions to tackle online piracy and digital crime. These include our dedicated scanning and takedown service that operates 24/7 to detect copyright infringing websites and links, as well as website blocking, cease and desist notices and enforcement where appropriate. To find out more, take a look at our services or contact us today.

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