Study uncovers extent of direct download piracy

Darren Allan

January 12, 2011

According to recent research, digital piracy isn’t all about torrents, but actually direct download sites are bigger offenders.

MarkMonitor, an expert in “brand protection”, conducted the study using a small sample of 22 brands across the web, searching for counterfeit goods (such as fake handbags) as well as pirated material (movies, music, games, e-books and so on).

It found that pirated and counterfeit based sites receive something like 53 billion visits per year – the vast majority of these being the piracy related sites. Although of course, the number of visits doesn’t necessarily correspond with the number of illegal downloads.

Two-thirds of the sites were located in North America or Europe.

The lion’s share of digital piracy related hits were attributed to sites such as, and These accounted for 21 billion of those hits last year, according to an article on PCR.

Of course, the above sites don’t openly support piracy – in fact, they remove pirated material where they find it – but it’s often hidden away, and described and linked to on the pirate’s website.

Steve Tepp, Senior Director of Internet Counterfeiting and Piracy for the Global Intellectual Property Centre at the US Chamber of Commerce, commented: “Online intellectual property theft – whether it is the sale of counterfeit shoes and fake drugs or the illegal distribution of movies, music, and software – steals jobs, threatens consumers, and hinders our economic growth.”

“We have known for a long time that rogue websites, those dedicated to piracy and counterfeiting, were flourishing at our expense. Now we begin to see the staggering scope of this problem – more than 53 billion visits on rogue sites. And the MarkMonitor study is just the tip of the iceberg, identifying only a portion of the colossal amount of Internet traffic related to online counterfeiting and digital piracy.”


Comments in chronological order (1 comment)

  1. Brian Turner says:

    The figures should be taken with a pince of salt, as it looks like they have extrapolated the figures.

    The result is that the same users get counted again and again and again.

    This is plainly obvious by the fact that there are not 53 billion people on the planet.

    However, wouldn’t be surprised if they estimated some of the stats as well, and also wouldn’t be surprised if this included bots and similar scripts.

    The result is massively inflated but headline grabbing figures - which work in the company’s interest.

    Pinch of salt required.

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