As with so many consumer practices, piracy has its own trends which, in the age of streaming, most recently took the form of stream-ripping, an illegal process whereby, content is 'ripped' from existing streaming sites. Fortunately, this practice appears to be on the decline, according to a recent report.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
The popularity of stream-ripping dropped 13% in 2018, according to a new report.
Piracy, not unlike entertainment, has seen the rise and fall of various trends as consumer behavior evolves. Early pirates relied on torrents and peer-to-peer services such as Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent to access materials they would otherwise have to pay to consume. Today’s pirates, however, often rely on services that rip existing content from streaming sites such as YouTube. Both methods work, and both methods are illegal.
Everyone knows piracy persists, but new information from the UK-based company MUSO shows signs of decline, at least where music is concerned.
While most people now subscribe to Spotify and Apple Music, Christopher Elkins, the company’s Chief Strategy Officer, explained that piracy “remains a significant challenge.”
The new data made available comes from 2018 piracy habits, and it includes a marked decrease in YouTube ‘stream-ripping,’ which was declared a piracy menace by groups like the RIAA in recent years.
MUSO counted over 189 million visits to piracy sites in 2018, which is over 100 million less than the number reported for activity 2017. TV remained the most popular content for piracy. Nearly half (49.4%) of all activity focused on pirating television programs. Film, music, and publishing had a respective share of 17.1%, 16%, and 11.2%. Software piracy came in the last place with around 6.2%.
That said, music saw the biggest decline in piracy, with a 34% drop overall compared the previous year.
The United States topped the list of countries with the most visits to piracy sites with 17 billion. Russia came in second with 14.5 billion, followed by Brazil, India, and France with 10.3 billion, 9.6 billion, and 7.4 billion visits, respectively. Turkey (7.3 billion), Ukraine (6.1 billion), Indonesia (6 billion), the United Kingdom (5.8 billion), and Germany (5.4 billion) rounded out the top ten.
Public torrent networks, such as ThePirateBay and 1337x, accounted for just 13% of all infringing activity. Stream-ripping fell 13% between 2017 and 2018 – from 8.9 billion visits to 7.7 billion. This was primarily due to YouTube-MP3.org’s closure in 2017, leading to a 16% drop in overall stream-ripper visits.
Speaking about the findings, Andy Chatterley, Muso’s Co-Founder and CEO, explained,
“In 2018, we’ve seen a 10% increase in people bypassing search engines and going directly to the piracy destination of their choice.
“Simply focusing on take-downs is clearly a whack-a-mole approach and, while an essential part of any content protection strategy, it needs to be paired with more progressive thinking.
“With the right mindsight, piracy audiences can offer huge value to rights holders.”
There is still a long ways to go before piracy is eradicated, but it appears that the proliferation of streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify may finally be making a difference.
James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.