Despite the strict measures taken by the anti-piracy authorities, it only takes a few minutes to find a list of illegal streaming sites on Google, and watch the most popular movies and TV series for free.
Despite the arsenal of legislation aimed at combating theft of intellectual rights and the measures taken by the entertainment sector, “access to illegal content has become easier than ever” in light of the spread of piracy via the Internet, according to the head of the British “Moso” company that studies this phenomenon.
In terms of 2022, Moso, which says it has the most complete data on piracy, indicates that the number of visits to illegal sites reached 215 billion. Its analyzes show an 18% increase in piracy between 2021 and 2022, for a selection of 480,000 films and TV series.
The restrictions imposed by the authorities do not seem sufficient to discourage people from searching for this illegal content, especially in light of the ease of access to it.
It only takes a few minutes to find a list of illegal streaming sites on Google, and see the latest episodes of popular TV series such as “Success” and “The White Lotus”, for free.
On the discussion site Reddit, a forum with nearly 1.2 million users, there is in particular a list of sites for pirating and downloading streaming content. All possible excuses are invoked to justify the use of these illegal websites.
One factor appears more often than not: the increase in the number of streaming platforms (most notably, Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO), and rising subscription costs.
“I used to pay for a (streaming) service or two, but now there are 50 and everything in the world is getting more expensive almost every day. So I went back to piracy,” explains Gidra, a Reddit user.
Others are more outspoken, including another Reddit user who calls himself “Scarecrow Johnny” who wrote, “I have no excuses. I could pay for everything if I wanted to, but instead of giving my money to the head of a media company who makes a thousand times more than me.” I’d rather save this money for my retirement.”
The fines backfired
It seems that the various entities operating in the entertainment sector are not ready to surrender in the face of the growing phenomenon.
The industry acknowledges that the huge fines levied on individuals for illegally downloading some movies have backfired, making them look like authoritarian corporations, while court orders to block piracy sites have often been a waste of time.
The industry is currently focused on big-time pirates, “the people who buy ‘supercars’ with the millions they make from pirate sites”, in the words of Stan McCoy of the Motion Picture Association, which represents the interests of Hollywood studios.
And this association launched the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, which was established in 2017 to coordinate efforts to combat piracy on a global scale.
Since the beginning of the year, the coalition’s actions have shut down pirate sites in Spain, Brazil, Germany, Vietnam, Egypt and Tunisia, each with millions of monthly users.
While eliminating piracy remains unrealistic, the most important goal may be ensuring that it does not spread. “We’ve made a lot of progress in making piracy less accessible,” McCoy said. “If people are determined to break the law, nothing will stop them. But this phenomenon has to be marginal without being widespread.”
Ironically, streaming platforms could benefit from piracy monitoring, for example by using the data produced by Moso to measure the success of movies and TV series.
“We have customers looking at what’s popular on hacking sites and buying it for their platform,” said Moso president Andy Chatterley.