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By 12 January 2011 | Categories: news

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A recent study by anti-fraud firm MarkMonitor, has revealed that 43 “digital piracy” websites  generated over 146 million visits every day, with an astronomical 53 billion visits every year. 

The top three sites were named as rapidshare.com, megavideo.com and megaupload.com, all content hosting sites, generating more than 21 billion hits annually between them.
 
Content hosting sites, such as those mentioned above, form part of one of the most popular new forms of illegal downloading. These sites allow users to upload content to the site, which other users can then download or stream in turn. Uploaded files are often pirated content. Websites such as RapidShare, have become as popular as peer-to-peer torrent networks such as The Pirate Bay.
 
In its study MarkMonitor identified 22 major consumer brands ranging from luxury goods to software and entertainment titles and then combed the web to find sites offering counterfeit goods or pirated digital content relating to the brands.
 
Initial scans of the 22 brands revealed more than 10 000 results which were then filtered to identify dedicated (illegal) e-commerce or digital download sites. As some sites listed multiple brands, this was then filtered to reveal almost 100 unique dedicated websites which were then classified as either 'counterfeit' or 'digital piracy' websites.
 
Of the 10 media brands included in the MarkMonitor study, 43 unique sites were identified as 'digital piracy' websites, generating 53 billion visits every year. 
 
The 12 remaining brands included in the study related to consumer goods, with the study identifying 48 sites selling counterfeit goods with more than 240 000 daily visits and 87 million visits annually.
 
The company pointed out, “Since the study used a sample of only 22 brands, it provides a small glimpse of the nature of online intellectual property (IP) theft and the dark side of illicit e-commerce.”
 
“These findings are just the tip of the iceberg. The true scope of the problem is exponentially higher in terms of user traffic, lost revenue and risks of public health and safety,” the study stated.
 
MarkMonitor suggested, “government policies, corrective legislative measures, law enforcement action and, most importantly, actively-engaged brand owners are all needed to stem this growing tide of illegal Internet activity.”

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