Most of us would quickly respond to the question “are you supporting piracy” with a unreserved “No!”. The numbers, however, tell a different story.
The way listeners are consuming music these days has changed drastically compared to just five years ago. A study conducted by MarkMonitor, an anti-fraud firm, provides a glimpse into the evolution of online piracy.
A stunning 53 billion visits per year was generated by 43 file sharing sites, the report said. From those 53 billion, 21 billion visits were generated from RapidShare.com, Megavideo and Megaupload.com, the top three file sharing sites. These sites have become famous as the standard peer-to-peer ways of grabbing illicit content.
Small samples of sites were used in the study, which suggested the issue implies bigger concerns. The study was conducted based on the requests made by the US Chamber of Commerce to obtain piracy statistics and to determine who the culprits are.
The research firm emphasized that the statistics showing the number of visits is not a reflection of the total number of downloads. Nevertheless, the numbers show that file sharing sites, together with some outside networks, have become as popular—in terms of accessing and transferring music and movies—as other sites providing legal content for purchase.
Officials from the research firm said that these file sharing sites index files, making it very fast and convenient for their users to locate and transfer files. These sites, similar to instant messaging services, have aligned with peer-to-peer sites to facilitate their piratical business. As a result, web content owners have faced significant challenges in battling against them.
The Recording Industry Association of America has scrutinized RapidShare for having the most number of illegal and copied contents. The RIAA’s goal is to force these file sharing sites to create filters to monitor their traffic for illegal file sharing activity.
Recently, the Higher Regional Court of Dusseldorf, Germany ruled that RapidShare need not install filters. The court found out that the site implements significant and sufficient methods of battling piracy. This case has taken on aspects similar to the case against Napster during the attempts to get it shut down, the research firm said.