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432 million Internet users sought pirated content in January, finds NetNames analysis

Nearly one-quarter of all Internet bandwidth used by consumers in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region during January devoted to consuming pirated content, according to a new analysis from anti-piracy and online-security specialist NetNames.

The analysis, “NetNames Piracy Analysis: Sizing The Piracy Universe,” commissioned by NBCUniversal, revealed that in the three regions examined, 327 million unique Internet users, or 25.9 percent of all users, sought infringing content during January. Worldwide, the number of those Internet users looking for pirated content was 432 million.

In terms of January bandwidth usage in the three regions devoted to accessing copyright-infringing content, 23.8 percent was used to download or stream pirated content.

North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region are responsible for 82 percent of all Internet users and 95 percent of all bandwidth used, the report said. In these regions, bandwidth used to access infringing content climbed by 159 percent between 2010 and 2012 from 3,690PB to 9,567PB.

Another measure of the popularity of consuming infringing content is page views. According to the analysis, in January there were 13.9 billion page views recorded on websites devoted to piracy. That represents nearly a 10 percent increase from the level recorded in November 2011, the report said.

The report identifies three major ecosystems from which pirated content is distributed: providing infringing content: Peer-to-peer file sharing via distribution systems like BitTorrent; video streaming links from sites that host pirated content, commonly known as cyberlockers; and direct download cyberlockers, such as the recently closed MegaUpload site.

According to the report, bandwidth in the three regions identified devoted to infringing via Bittorrent distribution grew 245 percent in 2012 from 2010 levels. Some 178 million unique Internet users in the regions infringed using Bittorrent in January, it said.

Infringing use of video streaming in the three regions accounted for 96 million unique Internet users in January, up nearly 28 percent from November 2011. Direct-download cyberlockers in January were used by 149 million unique Internet users to access infringing content, the report said.

In addition to the full report, NetNames is making an executive summary available online for free.

Editor’s Note: The Sound Off section of this newsletter features a video of David Price, NetNames director of piracy analysis, discussing the findings.