Digital Film Piracy Surges to ‘Unprecedented’ Levels Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

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Film piracy has surged since coronavirus lockdown measures were introduced in March, according to new data from digital piracy research firm Muso.

Muso calculated that film piracy increased by over 40% when lockdown measures were enforced, describing the rise as “unprecedented.”

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Comparing the last seven days of March to the last seven days of February, Muso’s data shows film piracy website visits increased by 41% in the U.S., 43% in the U.K. and 45% in Canada.

Italy and Spain, two of the European countries worst affected by coronavirus and which went into lockdown earlier than most, saw some of the highest increases in digital piracy, with rises of 66% and 50%, respectively.

Rates also surged in India, which saw a 63% spike. Elsewhere in Europe, visits to film piracy websites rose 47% in Portugal, 41% in France and 36% in Germany. Russia saw a 17% increase.

The rise in film piracy comes as people worldwide have had to self-isolate in their homes, with many looking for entertainment online. Other factors likely to have sparked the piracy increase include the fact that many people have lost their jobs or significant income as a result of lockdowns, while cinemas worldwide have also shuttered due to coronavirus social distancing measures.

Andy Chatterley, CEO of Muso, said​: “Piracy or unlicensed consumption trends are closely linked to paid-for or licensed content. So, just as Netflix has seen large subscriber gains, we have seen a significant spike in visits to film piracy sites. We will continue to monitor the data closely as the pandemic continues.”

The firm tracked 1.1 billion visits to piracy sites in the U.S. in March 2020, and 727 million in Russia. The figure was 581 million in India, 394 million in France, 300 million in the U.K. and 285 million in Canada. There were 257 million visits to piracy sites in Germany, 237 million in Spain, 198 million in Italy and 55 million in Portugal.

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