Piracy Sites Lure 53 Billion Visits Annually at Huge Cost to Firms
Sites that offer pirated digital content and counterfeit goods may be illegal, but apparently that's not much of a deterrent. These sites get a whopping 53 billion visits a year, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MarkMonitor brand protection group.
Sites offering pirated digital content draw the lion’s share of the 53 billion annual visits, while sites selling counterfeit goods — including prescription drugs and luxury goods — generate more than 92 million visits annually. The amount of traffic generated by these sites, as well as the range of locations used to host and register them, suggests there is no easy solution to the global problem of online piracy and counterfeiting.
Global piracy affects a wide range of digital content, including movies, music, games, software, television shows and e-books. Meanwhile, the trade in counterfeit goods online touches almost every item , including apparel, footwear, electronics, luxury items, sports merchandise and pharmaceuticals. MarkMonitor estimates the worldwide economic impact of online piracy and counterfeiting at $200 billion annually.
"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," said Steve Tepp, senior director of Internet counterfeiting and piracy for the Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"We have known for a long time that rogue websites were flourishing at our expense. Now we begin to see the staggering scope of this problem," Tepp added. "The study's findings underscore the urgency to address this epidemic in order to protect consumers, allow the legitimate Internet marketplace to flourish, and create jobs in America."
A separate study by MarkMonitor also revealed that 67 percent of sites suspected of hosting pirated content and 73 percent of sites categorized as "counterfeit " were hosted in North America or Western Europe. In previous 'test buys' of prescription pharmaceutical products from some of these sites, payment processing and order fulfillment took place in countries other than that used to host the site or register its domain name.
This means that while reliable infrastructure is a key factor for sites hosting piracy and counterfeit goods, many of these sites conduct business across multiple national boundaries.