Has The Success of Subscription-Streaming Giants Reduced Piracy?

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu & Disney Plus have slowly gained large customer bases across the planet.

Netflix has pioneered legitimate online movie streaming and it appears to be a success at this stage.

With Amazon Prime Video following in their footsteps, the financial upside looks set to continue growing.

All streaming platforms are currently investing heavily in creating their own films and TV content, which has in itself created a disruptive way of breaking free from Hollywood film & TV studio restrictions. Many directors, writers and actors have commented on have much more creative freedom they have on Netflix and other platforms.

A common desire for our survey participants before Netflix was created, has been for a legitimate and convenient way to stream movies — a way to watch what you want without the potential for malware or adult themed ads you might find on a pirate streamer.

The same can be said for music pirates who often told us that the reason they used pirate services was because there was no legitimate alternative to stream limitless music, since then we've seen numerous successful billion dollar music streaming platforms, from Spotify to Apple Music.

So have the convenience and safety offered by legitimate platforms reduced piracy?

Well, it's complicated — in some ways piracy has dropped significantly, but in other ways it has risen.

The Daily Mail reported a 17-24% decrease in video piracy back in 2015. With large numbers of people switching to legal options. This data comes from an Australian study focussed on Netflix, carried out by consumer group 'CHOICE'.

Regional restrictions increase piracy:

Regional restrictions still mean that some films are available only in certain countries, so even if you pay for Netflix every month, you don't get full access to the Netflix global content library.

Regional restrictions appear to increase piracy even amongst loyal Netflix customers, because they don't think it's fair that their region doesn't get access to their desired films, so they feel that the only way to stream them is on a pirate streamer.

Netflix has gone even further in enforcing geographic restrictions in recent years, by restricting/ banning access to known VPN's which formerly allowed customers to circumvent regional blocks, by appearing to be in a different country using a different IP address.

If they continue to pursue regional restriction instead of global access to the entire library, then we may continue to see piracy increase for those who would happily watch Netflix but are unable to access the content they want.

Platform restrictions increase piracy:

Currently, the streaming platforms compete for the rights to stream each film/show/documentary, with some films ending up exclusive to Amazon Prime or Netflix.

Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox has expanded the amount of films that are only available on Disney Plus.

This exclusivity climate only increases piracy, because consumers are not often willing to sign up to all monthly streaming services simultaneously.

Platform restrictions will continue to drive sign ups, but unfortunately it will continue to increase piracy of content only available on one platform. If a consumer already pays for Netflix and the film they want to watch is only available on Prime or Disney, then they are likely to stay with Netflix and opt to pirate the film instead of signing up to multiple platforms.

Piracy tracking is getting harder overall, this is mostly because of cyber-lockers and bulletproof hosting. Our sources (who operate as piracy community 'insiders') report to us that traffic has reduced for movies around 7% than it was in 2017.

The reality is that nearly all content gets pirated, at least a little.

In the first 2 years of Netflix, piracy levels were far lower than for Hollywood studio content, but so were popularity levels. Since then though, we have seen a sharp rise in the popularity of Netflix and other streamers, to the point that they are now seen as the exciting new option and Hollywood less so.

This inevitably means that the 'in-house' content made by Netflix and the other streamers, is routinely pirated by non-customers. You can guarantee that any popular Netflix show or film will be pirated now, so for Netflix and other streaming platform titles, there is clear rise in piracy of this content.

However, the fact that Netflix retains the majority of their monthly customers despite it's content being freely accessible, is highly encouraging.

It's possible, though difficult to know for sure, that rising customer numbers could mean that people who have watched pirated Netflix content are more willing to become customers after enjoying it for free, simply because it's good content and the user experience of Netflix is far more convenient and safe than searching through virus infested piracy sites.

Currently, it's too early to tell whether piracy of Netflix content will continue increase or decrease due to this convenience factor.

Overall piracy appears to have risen and fallen in different areas, so only time will tell if we see if the piracy grows or shrinks as the streaming giants get more established.


Common misconceptions about what copyright can protect..

Trademark is often thought of as being the same as copyright, but there are some important differences..

Patents are not the same as copyright, there are several key differences..

Unfortunately the "poor man's copyright method" is not a valid substitute for copyright registration, it is the process of sending yourself your own creation/s through the mail.

Even though copyright exists at the moment of creation, the value of registering is being able to prove ownership..

The original authorship and expression of works appearing on a website may be protected by copyright, but not the website itself..

No, copyright law does not cover domain names alone, but copyright protected works can be located on a website of your choice if you own the copyright..

Logo's may be eligible for copyright registration and potentially trademark as well. Copyright law doesn't cover slogans, in some cases they may qualify for trademark registration..

Studies reveal that 7 out of 10 people in America think piracy based activity is legal, selling pirated products may be part of this. We encourage all rights owners to take appropriate action against infringements..

During the Covid-19 pandemic, piracy did increase. It's likely that if more pandemics occur in future that it will rise as well, due to the increase in the number of people using the internet from home..

You can try to contact us if you feel that your application was denied unfairly, however there is no guarantee that we will certify you..

Copyright Topics

Piracy spikes during Covid-19 pandemic, future lock-downs could add further damage..

Creatives are honoured by US Institution..

Pirates have attempted to change perception on the right to sell 'backup copies' of digital files..

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Administrative reports annually..

Possible updates to MMA TP..

Copyright Office reports on technology..

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A Closer Look

Open discussion on the potential for A.I in the copyright world..

World Intellectual Property Day Lecture

Online video learning platforms under growing threat from piracy..

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