New Research Underlines the Ongoing Strength of P2P Piracy

Anti-piracy company Irdeto has revealed that P2P piracy is booming and still more popular than streaming in several countries. P2P traffic — mostly of the BitTorrent variety — continues to be a significant source of content for streaming portals hosting pirated content. Irdeto’s report comes at a time when Hollywood has focused its attention on streaming sites and services that distribute pirated content. Irdeto’s research examines web traffic to 962 piracy sites in 19 countries where P2P was the “dominant piracy tool.”

TorrentFreak reports that, Irdeto, which researched site traffic data provided by an “unnamed web analytics partner,” found “massive differences in the relative use of P2P versus streaming sites between countries.” P2P dominates streaming in countries as diverse as Russia, Australia, the Netherlands and India. In Russia, “only 2 percent of the visits go to streaming sites, while the rest of the traffic goes to P2P portals.”

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In 2017, there were an estimated 800 million global monthly downloads from P2P sites. Streaming sites, meanwhile, dominate in the U.S., France, Spain and Germany, where 88 percent of the traffic goes to private streaming sites. Irdeto also conducted research in eight other countries, with data showing that “piracy traffic has grown during the course of 2017,” including P2P sites in all countries but Germany.

Irdeto’s report concludes that 70 percent of all pirate traffic goes to P2P sites. “While many expect P2P piracy to be taken over by streaming and direct downloads, it’s clear that this has not happened yet,” said Irdeto’s vice president of cybersecurity services Peter Cossack. “P2P piracy is still a big threat to the industry, in which the overall piracy problem is growing. While the increase in bandwidth and social media has facilitated growth in content redistribution piracy, particularly around live sporting events, it is clear that other forms of piracy are not going away any time soon.”

TorrentFreak adds that, “while the data provide an interesting look at the regional differences it should be interpreted with caution,” in part because “the sample only includes desktop visits” and streaming sites are “arguably more popular on mobile platforms.” The 19 countries were chosen for the study because of their high P2P download rates, “a significant selection bias.”

Last, the traffic data are not weighed; “for example, nearly half of all visits in the sample come from Russia, which is significantly overrepresented.” As a result, “visits can’t simply be added to draw overall conclusions, something Iredto seems to do.” Still, the report supplies “a few solid points,” including the information that “P2P sites are mostly visited by ‘committed pirates’ who don’t use legal streaming sites, while about half of the visits to pirate streaming are from ‘casual pirates’.”

Irdeto also noted that P2P sites “often act as a source for streaming sites,” meaning “the videos people watch on streaming portals were taken from P2P sources, which underlines that these play a vital role in the piracy ecosystem.”