The number of illegal downloads of TV shows in 2007 reflected a much higher demand for programmes such as Heroes and Top Gear over box office movies, according to popular weblog TorrentFreak which reports on peer-to-peer file sharing service BitTorrent.
A report on behalf of the Motion Picture Association estimated that major Hollywood movie studios lost US$6.1bn through piracy in 2005 alone, with 38pc of this attributed specifically to internet piracy.
While piracy seems to have a devastating effect on the movie industry it appears to play a different role for producers of some television shows.
Website allourtv.com last year reported that one anonymous studio employee purposely leaked an episode of Pushing Daisies by uploading it onto a peer-to-peer file sharing network to drum up excitement prior to broadcast.
TorrentFreak said that while there were over 2.4m ‘torrents’ or channels made available for the TV show Heroes, the number of actual downloads would be much higher considering one file can have several torrents.
While Heroes was the top pirated TV show of the year, Top Gear came in at number 2 with 1.2m torrents followed by Battlestar Galactica and Lost.
BBC’s iPlayer, a service which went live on 25 December and which allows UK viewers to download the channel’s programming for a period of 30 days before it expires, is a move by the company to provide easily accessible programming over the net and combat piracy.
According to the BBC website, Auntie hopes that “providing high quality programmes over the internet legally, easily and at no cost will discourage illegal downloading.”
“We use streaming and DRM software to prevent illegal copying and distribution of BBC programmes to protect the rights of the people who make and appear in them,” it states.
Transformers was the top illegally downloaded movie with over 569,000 torrents or download streams, followed by US comedy Knocked Up. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End made it into the top 10 pirated movies also, but I’m not sure if Captain Jack Sparrow would approve of only making number 4 in the list.
By Marie Boran
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