18 Piracy Statistics To Keep You Away From Trouble in 2023

Updated · May 20, 2023

Can you guess why online piracy is called that way? The answer is pretty simple. You know how sea pirates take what belongs to others without permission. This is what happens when we take on an online “sea adventure” intending to use something that’s not ours.

We don’t say that you do it, but if you hypothetically did, you could bravely call yourself a web pirate. Sounds cool, isn’t it? However, it’s illegal in most cases. We’ll expand on that a bit later in our piracy statistics.

Now, you can get aboard our ship at your own risk, but rest assured—it will be filled with many pirated treasures. All Hand Hoy!

Fascinating Piracy Facts and Stats (Editor’s Choice):

  • 37% of all software installed on PC is unlicensed..
  • Almost 127 billion US TV shows’ episodes are illegally watched or downloaded every year.
  • US online TV and movie industry is expected to lose $11.58 billion to piracy in 2022.
  • Western Europe and North America host 67% of all piracy websites.
  • China was the world’s hotspot for using pirated software in 2021.
  • Pirated TV series and films get more than 230 billion worldwide views a year.
  • Facebook, Amazon, and Google paid pirate operators tens of millions of dollars for 2020 alone.
  • 182 billion pirate sites visits were recorded in 2021
  • During the Covid pandemic in 2020, the US led the ranking with 12.5 billion pirate websites visits.
  • In 2020, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal blocked one of the world’s largest piracy sites—The Pirate Bay.

Engaging Internet Piracy Statistics 2022

Now, let’s see how things actually stand. While some people pay for various online services and products, others prefer to use back doors to access them. It may sound unfair, but that’s how it is. This article will take a neutral position and focus only on the facts, though. That’s how we roll here at WebTribunal.

1. 182 billion global visits to pirate sites were reported for 2021.

(Source: MUSO)

It’s about 15% higher than in the previous year when total visits were over 130 billion. The stat includes visits to publishing, software, television, music, and movie websites, which are the most common types of piracy.

About 62% of the visitors went directly to the pirate site; over 28% found it through a web search; the rest went to email, display ads, social signals, and referrals.

2. The US is the global front-runner with 13.5 billion pirate sites visits in 2021.

(Source: Akamai)

Russia contributes with 7.2 billion visits, followed by India and China, with 6.5 billion and 5.9 billion, respectively. Data is for the first nine months of 2021.

Keep in mind that visiting piracy sites and downloading files can lead to malware infections or personal information breaches. With such high digital piracy statistics numbers, this should be a significant concern.

3. The Pirate Bay cannot be accessed in the Netherlands due to a 2020 court ruling.

(Source: ITIF)

What the Amsterdam Court of Appeal did in 2020 was issue a dynamic block injunction for two major Dutch internet service providers (ISPs). This way, users can’t access pirate sites because their ISPs were forced to block them.

The case might look like a minor local success story since nothing is stopping Dutchmen from using a VPN service, but it’s more than that. The battle against internet piracy schemes in the EU is over a decade long. This court decision is somewhat of a landmark and a reference point for similar future cases.

4. As of 2021, Google started deindexing piracy domains.

(Source: TorrentFreak)

It means that such domains won’t appear in Google searches. The measures were taken in Brazil and several European countries—the Netherlands, France, Sweden, the UK, and Norway. Google voluntarily followed court order decisions against piracy websites, the initial “culprit” being the Amsterdam court ruling of 2020.

5. Major Fortune 500 brands paid $100 million for ads on pirate operators in 2020.

(Source: Digital Citizens Alliance)

Well, well, well… That’s one major revelation! Can you imagine? Let’s investigate who did what and got busted.

Obviously, some Fortune 500 companies are quite interested in supporting the online pirating industry. $100 million is a lot of money to receive for just a year. 73% of that sum came from Google, Amazon, and Facebook ads on piracy apps. Our piracy statistics are getting more and more interesting. This information comes from a survey published in August 2021; data is for the previous year.

6. Netflix has an entire anti-piracy team dealing with the issues.

(Source: Crast)

Netflix is producing original copyrighted content by the hour. Those numerous series and movies are still circulating on many pirate platforms. That’s why the company has a specialized department to deal with the issue. Netflix is also part of the largest global organizations against piracy—the Motion Picture Association and the Alliance For Creativity and Entertainment.

2022 Movie Piracy Statistics and Predictions

We all love watching our favorite TV shows and movies on video on demand (VOD) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, etc. All this content is copyrighted and as such, a target to web piracy operators.

7. By 2022, worldwide movie and online television revenue might reach a $51.6 billion loss due to online piracy.

(Source: Statista)

Pirated movie and TV databases exist because there is a demand for such content. And when there is a demand, an opportunity for revenue arises for the piracy domain. If you're wondering how much money is lost due to piracy, the prediction of over $50 billion might shock you.

On the other hand, we can apply the golden rule in marketing here—to be where your users are.

And where exactly is that? Pirate sites, of course. So, it’s a win-win situation for both the advertiser and the piracy domain; the only loser is the copyrighted content creator.

Sad but true.

8. Unauthorized streaming can lead to a year in prison or thousands of dollars fine.

(Source: All Connect)

Streaming is illegal in the USA in 2022 as long as propriatory content is involved. You can get in serious trouble if you host a stream without being authorized. Know you’re breaking US law, namely the Copyright Act, and can be sued for a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a $100,000 fine, a year in prison, or the monetary loss or gain doubled.

There is some good news about watching illegal streams, though. It’s legal to watch unlicensed streams, but downloading them is not. US copyright laws forbid making copies of someone else’s work, even for personal use.

9.TV piracy had a 50.3% share of all piracy traffic in 2021.

(Source: MUSO)

The TV type of piracy includes watching live sports events, anime series, and TV shows. 2021 was a fruitful year for piracy TV sites. They had 91.6 billion visits—13.2% more than in 2020. Global leaders in that field are the US, Russia, and China.

10. Global film piracy site visits increased by 31% between Q1 to Q4 of 2021.

(Source: MUSO)

And guess who the film piracy leader by demand is? It’s not the US; they are second this time. India is first and Turkey,

11. Online television and film industry might lose $11.58 billion in the US in 2022 because of piracy. 

(Source: Statista)

These internet piracy statistics are based on predictions, but they might as well turn out to be true. We see how big the numbers are in previous stats.

China is also expected to lose $9.78 billion in TV and movie revenue in 2022 due to piracy. It’s one of the leaders in using pirated content, so that assumption has a reason.

Music Piracy Statistic: Look for the Hidden Sounds

You know how they say that water is life. For some people, the water part can be substituted with music. So, music becomes life.

Those are the ones who cannot live without listening to music, and that’s a good thing. But music can either come from legal sources or illegal ones.

The latter we’ll discuss below.

12. There’s a 65% decrease in music piracy between 2017 to 2021.

(Source: MUSO)

That’s the good news. But if we compare Q4 2021 to Q4 2020, there is an 18.6% increase. This significant content piracy growth is due to music stream rippers—websites where you can rip and download YouTube audio. Their share among all music piracy platforms in 2021 is 39.2%.

 13. RIAA won a case for $83 million against two-stream rippers.

(Source: Forbes)

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) finally won a several-years-long battle against 2conv.com and FLVTO.biz. Those websites allowed users to rip content from YouTube and were previously blocked in the US.

14. Music piracy in the US leads to a total loss of $12.5 billion annually.

(Source: RIAA)

Those are the consequences of music piracy on the US economy every year. Also, more than 71 thousand jobs are lost due to sound recording piracy. The American Government loses a minimum of $422 million in taxes each year as well.

15. India wins the gold medal for music piracy in 2021.

(Source: MUSO)

The silver medal goes to Iran; the bronze is for the United States. Iran and India mostly used illegal streaming websites, while 63% of the US users preferred stream rippers.

Software Piracy Statistics

Commercial software is also eligible for copyright infringement, along with music, books, TV, and movies.

Usually, the most pirated software is the full-function commercial one. Freeware and shareware are also copyrighted, but they are freely available on the web and less likely to be a subject to piracy.

16. Most visitors to software piracy sites in 2021 come from China.

(Source: MUSO)

Russia and the US follow China. Compared to 2020, in 2021, there was a 13.1% increase in visits to pirate software websites worldwide. The peak traffic to such sites was also in 2021, even when we were to further compare to the previous five years.

17. Global visits to software piracy sites were 3.2 billion in Q3 2021.

(Source: Statista)

There was a steady increase in that metric since Q3 2020 when total traffic was 2.28 billion. The increase was 92 million visits, a significant number for just one year.

18. By 2025, illegally installed software in China might reach 69%.

(Source: Statista)

Installing unlicensed software is a common practice in China. The same goes for Russia, where the forecast is 58%. The two countries are the best software piracy examples of how far these numbers can go in the future.

Wrap Up

The story of online piracy looks like a never-ending saga with many seasons and players. When one player falls, a new one arises to take their place. Chasing them one by one can take years. But let’s stay hopeful that someday, somewhere in the future, the need for piracy statistics will be gone entirely.

Nick Galov
Nick Galov

Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.