Online Piracy

Information and statistics about online piracy and the downloading of pirated digital files from the Internet. Data is collected from entertainment industry officials, news reports and other public information sources.

In a survey of over 6,000 people in Finland between the ages of 7 to 84, researchers found that on average each person who downloaded pirated content online had about 2,900 pirated music files and 90 pirated movie files.

The researchers who conducted the study beleives that downloaders have more music files is due to the ease of downloading pirated music. According to the study, downloading movie files require faster internet speeds, more digital storage space, as well as a higher technological ability to playback movies.

(See more movie piracy statistics.)

Amoung the reasons that people gave for committing online piracy were that it was cheaper, and that they could access content that was either not available in their region of before it was released to the general public.

(See more music piracy statistics.)

Source:  Samuel Gibbs, “Piracy study shows illegal downloaders more likely to pay for films than music,” Guardian, May 6, 2014.


A report by TorrentFreak stated that an online service is providing customers with the ability to set up a fully working online streaming site that displays pirated movies and television shows.

People who are looking to own their own movie streaming site pay at least $200 to the service. Once payment is complete, the service provides the scripts that automatically adds updated movies and televisions to the site. All the buyer needs is a server to host the website. According to interviews with one buyer, the total time to set up a new streaming site after payment was between 5 to 10 minuets.

The new owner of the site is then able to recoup the original investment by generating revenue from ads that are displayed on the sites.

It was previously reported that online streaming websites and other BitTorrent sites that offer users pirated movies are collectively able to make $227 Million a year from advertising clicks. A small BitTorrent site that has less than one million unique visitors per day can make around $100,000 a year from advertising.

(More earnings from illegal jobs and activities.)

Source:  Andy, “Buy a Fully Loaded Movie and TV Show Piracy Site for Just $200,” Torrent Freak, April 27, 2014.

A study on digital content by La Coalicion found that 51 percent of internet users in Spain accessed pirated content in 2013.

84 percent of all digital content, such as movies and music, were illegally consumed in Spain during the year.

43 percent of the internet users who committed online piracy stated that they had either downloaded pirated movies or watched the movie on unlicensed streaming  sites.

The report finds that pirating digital content in Spain causes tax losses of $725 Million and the loss of over 26,000 jobs.

Back in 2012, market research firm Nielsen reported that around 45 percent of all internet pages visited by Spain users had links to pirated music or movies.

Source:  “Half of Spain’s internet users download illegally,” The Local, April 9, 2014.


The United States Department of Justice reported that the website provided pirated copies of Android mobile apps to users. In the plea agreement with the websites two founders, criminal justice officials stated that over 1 million pirated apps were illegally downloaded from the website. The value of the downloads was over $700,000, according to prosecutors.

Another website providing pirated Android apps was, which was also seized by criminal justice agencies in 2012. The website reportedly allowed over 1 million illegal downloads of pirated apps that were valued at $1.7 Million.

Source:  Chris Welch, “Justice Department lands first ever convictions against mobile app pirates,” The Verge, March 24, 2014.

According to a survey, around 60 percent of the population in Singapore committed online piracy at some point in their lives.

Breakdown of the piracy rate by age:

16 to 18 years old: 69 percent committed online piracy such as downloading unauthorized content.

19 to 24 years old: 74 percent.

50 to 59 years old: 31 percent.

60 to 64 years old: 40 percent.

Source:  Eileen Poh, “Survey shows online piracy in S’pore most prevalent among youths,” Channel NewsAsia, March 18, 2014.

In a study released by the Digital Citizens Alliance, researchers calculated that online streaming sites and BitTorrent sites that allow users to access pirated movies and television shows make up to $227 Million a year from advertising.

The 30 largest websites, such as The Pirate Bay, earn around $4.4 Million a year, with the largest sites making $6 Million a year from advertising. Smaller websites with less than 1 million unique visitors per month can make over $100,000 a year.

On average, across BitTorrent sites, streaming sites, full movie downloads, and linking sites, the profit margins for these websites is between 80 percent to 94 percent. The main driver of cost for these sites is the hosting fees, since all content is pirated.

(More earnings from illegal jobs and activities.)

Source: “Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business,” Digital Citizens Alliance, February 2014.

American broadcaster NBC reported that it shut down 45,000 illegally posted video clips or online pirate streams of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Company officials state that 20,000 video clips of the competition was prevented from appearing on YouTube. This was done through filtering technology of the video, as well as flagging the video and manually pulling it down after its been posted.

An additional 20,000 videos was prevented from appearing on other video websites such as Dailymotion and

The remaining 5,000 video was internet streaming sties that were providing coverage of the Winter Games.

According to officials, up to 98 percent of the people viewing the Olympics online were using legal channels.

NBC paid $775 Million for the exclusive American television and streaming rights of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Source:  Associated Press, “NBC Says Thousands of Illegal Video Stopped,” ABC News, February 27, 2014.

In 2008, file sharing of pirated content online accounted for 31 percent of all Internet traffic, according to Sandvine, a network equipment company.

In 2013, file sharing activity accounted for less than 10 percent of overall Internet activity.

Entertainment officials attribute the drop to the rise in free online streaming sites. In a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, when ABC added television shows to popular streaming site Hulu, the illegal pirating of those shows dropped almost 20 percent when compared with a control group.

Source:  Joshua Brustein, “Want to Fight Off Content Pirates? Just Stream Your Show for Free,” Bloomberg Businessweek, December 2, 2013.

According to a survey of game developers in the United Kingdom, 57 percent of developers stated that piracy is a problem for their business.

10 percent of the developers stated that stricter enforcement against piracy was the best option in dealing with the problem, while 87 percent stated that creating new business models was the best option.

67 percent of developers stated that pirating activities is much more active on Android platforms versus the iPhone. In an example, one game developers found that the game was being pirated 10 times for each copy that was being sold in the Google Play store.

Source:  Stuart Dredge, “Games piracy: 57% of UK developers say it hurts, but only 10% want legal crackdown,” Guardian, October 28, 2013.

In an interview with TorrnetFreak, an online pirate who uploads movies to streaming sites explained how he makes money.

According to the individual, a person uploads content such as movies or television shows to a file-hosting site. Users who watch the movies are also show advertisements. The file-hosting website has affiliate programs where ad revenue that is generated is shared with the person who uploaded the movie. On average, the payout to the person who uploaded the movie is around $1 to $2 for each 1,000 views that the movie or tv show generates.

(Cash payments reported from under the table jobs.)

Both the file-hosting site and the person uploading the movie both benefit from having more people view the content. Thus, streaming link sites exist. These sties collect links to the file-hosting site in a way similar to how search engines work. The more streaming links there are, the more people are able to view the movie and thus increase revenue for the person who uploaded the movie.

The pirate who was interviewed by TorrentFreak has uploaded 30,000 movies and television shows on to the Internet using 12 different file-hosting websites. In order to drive traffic and views to those movies, he has added over 200,000 links to streaming link sties that direct people to the pirated content.

Source:  Andy, “Making Money from Movie Streaming Sites, an Insider’s Story,” TorrentFreak, October 19, 2013.