Media Piracy - Statistics & Facts

Consumers are constantly seeking new ways to watch television or stream new music as soon as it is released. Some even resort to illegal means to gain access to their favorite movies or shows. Media piracy is especially prevalent in countries such as Indonesia and Egypt, where 16 percent of consumers admitted to pirating content more than once a week as of February 2017. Some of the most widespread sites for pirating material include 4shared.com and rapidgator.net, with almost 19 million infringing URLs having been removed from the latter as of September 2015. The copyright industry is therefore a big business and almost half a million copyrights were registered on artistic works in the United States alone in 2013.


One of the most popular types of media piracy is video piracy and, in countries such as Colombia and Mexico, over three quarters of consumers admit to watching pirated content. One of the driving forces behind pirating video content is the consumers’ desire to watch new content as soon as it is released, without having to pay to go to the movie theater or pay for premium television services. In the United States, 48 percent of respondents have watched a movie after it has left the theaters, but before it was available to watch at home legally, while a further 24 percent have watched a pirated movie while it was still in theaters. Some of the most pirated movies worldwide in 2016 included Deadpool, Batman v Superman, and Zootopia, whilst Game of Thrones, which is broadcast on premium cable channel HBO, was by far the most pirated TV series.

Since streaming content has become increasingly favored over buying physical content, music streaming and, by extension, music piracy, have also become more widespread. Over half of global internet users aged 16-24 have accessed music through copyright infringement, with ripping music being preferred to downloading across all age groups. In the United States, 35 percent of music buyers claimed to having acquired at least one song from an unsanctioned source, despite the fact that 58 percent of them admitted that it was easy for them to determine if the site was unlicensed or not.

A new piracy market has also emerged in recent years thanks to the rise of the e-reader. Estimates suggest that there are 16.5 million illegal book downloaders in the United States who, by downloading their literature illegally, contribute to a loss of sales of 315 million U.S. dollars. In contrast to music piracy, which mostly remains an activity of the young, book piracy is mostly carried out by those in the 30-44 age category, although the share of illegal book downloaders drops significantly in the older age groups. The reasons for this illegal activity are plain – it is convenient and free. However, others also claim that they are forced into downloading illegal e-books because their preferred books are not available from online retailers. As a result, sites such as 4shared.com and bookos.org continue to thrive as people look for even easier and cheaper ways to access the content they want.

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