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Akamai’s latest report reveals the persistence of online piracy

Akamai Technologies has released new research detailing the persistence of online piracy titled “Pirates in the Outfield”, examining the evolving piracy landscape, which, according to the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center, costs the US economy alone $29.2 billion in lost revenue each year.

user icon Nastasha Tupas
Fri, 28 Jan 2022
Akamai’s latest report reveals the persistence of online piracy
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Akamai’s latest State of the Internet/Security report is a collaboration between Akamai and MUSO, which provided data on streaming and download piracy activity across several industries.

The research illustrates how online piracy continues to be prevalent across, and financially detrimental to, a variety of industries. Between January and September 2021, global piracy demand – measured by visits to websites offering access to movies and television shows, either directly through a browser or mobile application, as well as torrent downloads – reached 3.7 billion unlicensed streams and downloads. Over 61.5 per cent of consumers who visited piracy sites accessed these directly, while 28.6 per cent actively searched for these, the research data revealed.

According to Steve Ragan, security researcher at Akamai and author of the report, piracy is an ongoing battle, and there’s no silver bullet to address each type of piracy online.

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"As content developers get better at guarding against piracy, criminals are adapting their methods to access protected content.

"The impact of piracy goes far beyond stolen movies and other content.

"The real cost is behind the scenes, leading to the loss of livelihood for those who work to create the movies, films, books, and software we all consume and enjoy," Ragan said.

Breaking down piracy trends
In addition to the unrelenting demand for pirated materials, the report revealed several other notable takeaways, including:

  • A total of 132 billion visits to piracy websites occurred between January 2021 and September 2021.
  • The top pirated industries were television (67 billion total visits), publishing (30 billion total visits), film (14.5 billion total visits), music (10.8 billion total visits) and software, which includes video games and modern PC software (8.9 billion total visits).
  • Globally, the United States (13.5 billion), followed by Russia (7.2 billion), India (6.5 billion), China (5.9 billion), and Brazil (4.5 billion), were the top five locations for piracy website visits last year.

The scale of online piracy outlined in the report presents one of the most difficult and complex issues for companies to address.

At a time when media, publishing and other digital services companies are focusing on protecting revenue due to changing consumer behaviour, it’s paramount to understand the threat landscape to successfully mitigate risk.

Piracy poses a security issue both internally at organisations and as another potential attack vector to protect against breaches of critical intellectual property (IP).

When examining piracy globally and across the film, TV, software, publishing and music industries, the vast scale of piracy is clear according to James Mason, CTO of MUSO.

"Perhaps more concerningly, in many areas, piracy is still a growing problem, with an overall 16 per cent increase on the previous nine-month period.

"As highlighted by our partnering with Akamai on this report, working collaboratively to deeply understand the latest trends within piracy’s ever-changing ecosystem is key to forming effective anti-piracy strategies, as opposed to combating piracy in silos," Mason said.

[Related: Analysts warn of serious security risks ahead of Beijing Winter Olympics]

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans affairs, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. She is a co-author of a book titled The Stories Women Journalists Tell, published by Penguin Random House. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. Nastasha started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia.

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