More content downloaded illegally in a week than sold in a year, VeriSign says

As studios grapple with the competing HD-DVD and Blu-ray optical formats for content distribution, as well as efforts to make both secure, the distribution of studio content via the Internet may make these battles seem quaint and tame.

In a recent interview in IPTV Update (a sister newsletter of HD Technology Update), VeriSign VP of digital content services Jeff Richards put a pencil to peer-to-peer file sharing of movie content. Richards’ findings don’t cull out higher bit rate demanding HD movies, but his figures should give pause to studio executives embroiled in the optical format war.

Richards relied on figures from to make his point during the interview as well as to those attending a session he participated in at NAB2007.

Taking a snapshot from a one-week period in August 2006 of the top 10 movie downloads in the United States from, Richards discovered that there were 8,811,000 unauthorized downloads from file sharing networks.

At $20 per movie, that’s $180 million per week in content being downloaded illegally in the United States alone, he said. “There’s more content being downloaded illegally in one week than is being paid for in an entire year right now,” he said.

Editor’s note:Part one of the interview with Richards appears in today’s edition of IPTV Update. Part two will appear July 24.