The Current Trends in Online Piracy

Online piracy has been a persistent problem in recent years. With internet penetration levels increasing significantly over the last few decades, online services have become commonplace.

Defined as the unlicensed consumption of digital content, online piracy has been fueled by advanced technological innovations such as torrenting and live video streaming. 

The effects of piracy cannot be underestimated in the business world. Online piracy often leads to loss of revenue for companies, reduced asset value for content creators, media publishers, independent creatives, and service providers. Every year, the U.S losses an estimated $29.2 billion in revenue due to online piracy, according to the Global Innovation Policy Center.

closeup of a blue retro typewriter and the text piracy is theft written with it in a yellowish foil

These losses are fueled by the desire for pirated content consumers want to access for free or at extremely low prices. At the same time, media companies don’t have sufficient resources to meet the rising demand for free content.

The underworld digital media tends to grow faster as conglomerates of pirates and intelligent hackers join hands to advance it globally. 

Further, the rise of user-generated online content allows anyone to create and also distribute digital content. As a result, most people who do this don’t realize how their actions contribute to copyright infringements. With the current situation looking dire, how are companies responding to online piracy threats?

Below we look at five current trends in online piracy response by businesses:

Adoption Of The Freemium Approach

The freemium approach is a relatively new model for doing online business where free and premium packages are available to customers. A pretty welcome move, the freemium approach is encouraged in products or services like music, movies, games, and video live streaming where online piracy levels are high.

Companies such as Netflix and Spotify have adopted the freemium model – a move that has seen them rise to the top in recent years. Both companies allow users to sign up for free as well premium packages. YouTube also adopted this approach later. The result was a 52% rise in video streaming services.

Increase In Content Subscription Platforms 

In countries like Norway, the rate of self-reported piracy in the music industry has been on the decline. This drop is occasioned by the rise in the use of data streaming services that allow users to stream their preferred music – rather than purchase it. For most content consumers, meeting streaming service costs is more economical than having to buy. 

Content streaming is also user-friendly compared to the risks that users get exposed to whenever they engage in illegal downloading.

To discourage online content piracy, companies that create and sell content such as Cartoon Crazy, KissAnime, and GogoAnime are increasingly allowing consumers to buy subscriptions the same way they’d choose to license a product, service or a data set. The rise in content subscription platforms has created a huge opportunity for media companies.

It’s giving content consumers services at a cost that makes sense to them. It also allows content creators to understand buyer preferences, enabling them to offer them personalized services. With data streaming services available, the demand for pirated online content is increasingly reducing. 

The Rise Of Free Audio Book Searches

The demand for audiobooks has been on the rise in recent years. This has attracted online infringers to the market. Online search trends show reduced queries for free e-books and a sharp increase in queries like free audiobooks.

While not every query may indicate online piracy, structural piracy sites seem to be adding the audiobook category to their catalog.

This means that pirated audiobooks are increasingly becoming available in illicit channels as demand for these materials gets fueled by the stagnating e-book market.

The popularity of audiobooks is also being driven by the fact that they complement e-books and traditional publishing, rather than substituting it. 

Mobile Only Access

Online piracy propagators have a preference for mobile devices as opposed to desktop browsers. Content infringement sites tend to operate via mobile browsers. They rarely become accessible via desktop computers.

Infringers restrict app access to mobile devices in order to keep desktop scanning solutions from detecting them. This makes external phishing attacks prominent as illegal content users exploit brand assets. 

Phishing attacks tend to replicate popular platform designs, causing unsuspecting users to expose sensitive information to attackers.

In most instances, links to phishing platforms are sent to unsuspecting users via mobile apps, text messages and social media platforms. To prevent this from happening, individuals and companies must boost monitoring of their mobile ecosystems.

 Stream-Ripping Is The New Music Piracy Trend

Stream-ripping involves downloading music files that play on other streaming platforms like YouTube and Spotify without paying anything. With dozens of tools and websites now using this approach, stream-ripping is quickly gaining traction as anyone can find the sites easily with a quick Google search. 

By stream-ripping, content consumers don’t have to pay premium subscription charges on platforms that allow them to enjoy their favorite music offline. It’s highly likely fans across the globe won’t buy all the songs available online.

However, downloading tracks unlawfully as opposed to streaming them on proper platforms robs songwriters, artists, produces and all the employees or companies that invest time and resources to launch the albums or singles the royalties that they’re entitled to. 

Individual streams don’t bring in so much. They are, however, better than stream ripping as the fractions of cents build up as a person listens to a song over and over. With stream-ripping, content consumers don’t replay songs on lawful platforms—this means artists earn nothing from their content. 

Bottom Line

Online piracy is a global challenge that threatens the survival of millions of jobs in the software, music, gaming, and creatives sector.

While the internet provides numerous opportunities for such businesses to industries to thrive, online piracy has become an unseen enemy that software developers and content creators have to grapple with on a daily basis.

The trends discussed above show that though online piracy continues to persist, businesses are increasingly finding ways to deal with it.

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