The tale of 150,000 online anti-piracy takedowns

 

Published December 8, 2012

Benchmarking a chart‐topping piece of content over a backdrop of relentless illegal file sharing attempts.

MUSO is used by a number of leading film, music, publishing and software titles to proactively protect their premium content against illegal downloading, and improve the efficiently of online sales. In this analysis, we’ve taken a look at the last 12‐months activity online for one of the biggest (unnamed, to protect their identity) media releases of the year and, with MUSO taking a frontline responsibility in stemming the flow of illegally uploaded files, we’ve taken a step back to examine another side of the media title’s buoyancy, and what that data could mean to other rights holders.

In January 2011, a MUSO rights holders added a new piece of media to their dashboard ‐ with the first illegally leaked copy showing up in late January. Fast forward to June 2012, and the number of illegal files uploaded and subsequently taken down by MUSO is close to exceeding 150,000 ‐ putting that into context, that’s over 8600 a month, or close to 300 per day.

Cyberlocker’s took hold of mainstream illegal file distribution in 2011 and this clearly shows in our data ‐ with over 60% of the illegal uploads distributed ‐ with P2P torrents taking a smaller 32% share of the illegal marketplace. The remaining 10% include spoof MP3 download sites, UGC and various video sites like Youtube and Social Media links, including the problematic Russian social networking site VK.

The graph below highlights the most popular cyberlockers that were hosting illegal files for the media in question between January 2011 and June 2012, and the volume of illegal files removed.

most popular cyberlockers that were hosting illegal files for the media between January 2011 and June 2012

Most popular cyberlockers that were hosting illegal files for the media between January 2011 and June 2012

Despite popular opinion and media interest in the now‐defunct megaupload.com ‐ reported to have had over $17m in assets confiscated by government officials ‐ they only manage a lowly No. 3 on our chart, which provides speculative insight into just how successful the business models must be for the remaining nine on our list ‐ 4Shared take a lions share with over 45,500 uploads by their users ‐ and if using the same financial platform and enjoying the same traffic levels as the notorious megaupload, would put their estimated asset holdings at over $30m.

As reviewed earlier this year on MUSO (see: ‘How Megaupload scooped your bottom line’), both the cyberlocker and the user uploading the file illegally are able to generate revenue ‐ the more the file is shared and downloaded, the greater this becomes. As MUSO collects data on each and every infringement that occurs, we can also look at the source page where links are distributed ‐ the essential vehicle that allows these illegal files to be discovered by fans searching online, through a search engine, or via social media.

The graph below highlights the most popular blogs and message boards that were hosting illegal files between January 2011 and June 2012, and the number of times an illegal link to the content was reposted after being initially removed.

most popular blogs and message boards that were hosting illegal files

most popular blogs and message boards that were hosting illegal files between January 2011 and June 2012

 

Clearly, source pages paint a muddier picture, with many hundreds of thousands of smaller blogs and message boards providing a smaller number of links to their users, portraying a herculean task for rights holders to maintain. Using specific tool like MUSO, which scans millions of different sites each day intelligently, rights holders are now able to manage the massive load of data quickly and efficiently, day‐to‐day.

In fact, globally, and in every industry, rights holders are realizing that piracy is an issue of convenience as much as anything else ‐ mainstream users of content, media, eBooks, and live programming are responding ever‐faster and more impulsively to advertising and promotion and are increasing revenue spend online. MUSO maintained an average takedown time of just 3.5 hours across all illegal filesharing sites throughout the campaign, with over 50% instantly removed.

Our user wanted a fast, simple and hugely cost‐effective solution to help them safeguard online sales and make the process of finding and downloading illegal copies a time‐consuming and difficult process. MUSO increased the time taken to download illegally through search engines by ten fold, and in the process gave users downloading illegally opportunity to reconsider the better quality legal option.

In the case of the rights holder, a proactive, preventative and affordable approach ensured that the illegal distribution market remains a poor customer experience, and legal channels quickly become the obvious choice ‐ a model success story to inspire other content producers.


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