22 Online Piracy Statistics You Need to Know

Reading time: 13 min read
Maxym Chekalov
Written by
Maxym Chekalov

Updated · Aug 01, 2023

Maxym Chekalov
SEO Specialist | Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Maxym Chekalov

With a master's degree in telecommunications and over 15 years of working experience in telecommunic... | See full bio

Girlie Defensor
Edited by
Girlie Defensor


Girlie Defensor
Joined June 2023
Girlie Defensor

Girlie is an accomplished writer with an interest in technology and literature. With years of experi... | See full bio

Techjury is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

"Free access" to entertainment media would seem like the smart choice as we experience worldwide global economic recession. It's no wonder the traffic on piracy websites has kept skyrocketing throughout the years, aggravated more by the pandemic.

Whatever the circumstances, piracy remains to be unethical and problematic. Loss of jobs, loss of revenue, and increased susceptibility to malware infections are just a few of the negative consequences of piracy.

Read on to unravel the shocking truth behind online piracy statistics and discover how they relentlessly disrupt the global market!

Editor's Choice

  • Pirate downloads lead to 36 percent of malware infections
  • 34% of Gen Z use stream-ripping.
  • Digital video piracy reduces annual revenue in the US by at least $29.2 billion.
  • Malware attacks due to unlicensed software packages can cost up to $359 billion annually.
  • There's a 13.9% increase in visits to music piracy sites in 2022.
  • Publishers lose about $300 million annually due to e-book piracy.
  • US residents visited piracy websites the most in 2020.
  • Film piracy increased by more than 40% across the world.

Piracy Statistics Overview

Those who grew up witnessing the rapid shift to digitalization tend to have a pro-sharing attitude. Coupled by lockdowns which increased our appetite for media, piracy soared to 21.9% in 2021.

Piracy can have serious consequences too. Sure, you may have gotten the latest release of your favorite video game or movie for free, but you may have paid another price without you knowing. From exposure to malware and lack of warranties, piracy raises many ethical, physical, and legal issues.

With that, let’s look at online piracy statistics in contemporary internet culture.

International Piracy Statistics

Globally, piracy reigns supreme. Despite the broader scope of legal streaming sites, billions of consumers still opt for pirated content, aggravated by economic instability and lockdown woes. 

Here are the common statistics across continents:

1. Pirated content takes up nearly 24% of the bandwidth in Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe.

(LA Times)

Uploading and downloading of infringed content are done so much across the world that it amounts to about 24% of total internet bandwidth.  

An infographic showing that 300 thousand people have committed copyright infringement at least once in their lifetime

A study by NBCUniversal also showed that over 300 million had infringed copyright at least once in their lifetime. These numbers indicate that piracy has been so normalized that it happens at an alarming rate.

2. Pirate downloads lead to 36 percent of malware infections. 

(NBC News)

A Microsoft-funded study found that downloading pirated software often leads to malware infections. Those unlicensed or improperly licensed programs will likely contain Trojan horses, spyware, ransomware, and others that can infect users' devices.

Among those surveyed, only 23% claimed they didn't encounter a problem installing pirated software.

3. 34% of Gen Z use stream-ripping.


Stream-ripping is the process of creating a downloadable file from online content. 34% of the Gen Z population admitted to stream-ripping. 

Despite growing up parallel to the rise of Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, Gen Z users have grown to be some of the serial copyright infringers in the entertainment industry. They violate copyright laws much more than the rest of the sample population.

4. Digital video piracy reduces annual revenue in the US by at least $29.2 billion. 

(US Chamber of Commerce)

Along with revenue loss is job loss due to digital video piracy. The US movie and tv industry contributes massively to the country's economy and supports 2.6 million jobs. But with the advent of digital video piracy, the economy and workforce are affected.

US-produced TV shows get around 126.7 billion viewings. Still, this number becomes a revenue loss because they are digitally pirated yearly.

Some pirates even stream stolen movies in broad daylight just for fun. In May 2023, amidst a barrage of controversies since his Twitter takeover, Elon Musk announced that paid users of his bird app could now post 2-hour-long videos.

It didn’t take long for users to start trolling Musk. Shortly after the announcement, a verified user uploaded the full Shrek the Third movie. Others uploaded copyright-infringed videos, full sports matches, and even concert events.


As the leading search engine, Google can promote or delist websites from its search pages. When a copyright owner submits a report on infringed content material, Google will investigate, and once proven; they will delist the URL. 

Software Piracy Statistics

While torrenting itself is legal, software copyright infringement has been rampant since the peak of torrent sites. This infringement involves illegal duplication or alteration of licensed software for personal or commercial use.

While many people reason that they pirate software because it is too expensive or inaccessible, software piracy affects the industry through:

  • loss of revenue
  • loss of innovation
  • impaired quality and support
  • economic impact

This is especially devastating for smaller, indie companies which rely on revenue from their products to keep their business going. Respecting intellectual property, supporting software developers, and encouraging a sustainable digital economy help foster more innovative ideas.

Let’s check out the stats involved.

6. Unlicensed software running worldwide amount to $46.3 billion. 


Computers worldwide that run improperly licensed software contribute to a staggering $46 billion loss in revenue.

An infographic reporting that $46.3 billion global total revenue is lost due to unlicensed software

Other than that, 25% of surveyed enterprises have a relaxed policy on employees using unlicensed software.

Improperly licensed software also account for higher risks of malware attacks. 

👍 Helpful Article: 

Clicking on a piracy site can install malware on your device, leading to devastating consequences down the line. Check out our in-depth guides to add a level of protection for yourself while you surf the web.

7. Malware attacks due to unlicensed software packages can cost up to $359 billion annually.


Cybercriminals exploit people's inclination to download free and illegally sourced programs. Consequently, this results in more expensive damages. Cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion yearly.

Moreover, each malware attack costs about $2.4 million per company. Repercussions include: 

  • operation downtime
  • reputation damage
  • possible loss of business data
  • customer trust.

Meanwhile, using licensed and up-to-date software can significantly reduce the risk of malware infection. IDC also estimates around an 11% boost in the bottom line when using licensed and up-to-date software systems.

👍 Helpful Article: 

Malware is a pain to deal with and can quietly evade you while you surf the net. Just one click on a malicious link may cost you your device, bank account, or business.

Check out our helpful articles to keep yourself safe:

8. Bangladesh has the highest unlicensed software use at 84%.


The Asia-Pacific region has generally scored high in the number of unlicensed software used. Developing countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Vietnam were on the top. The reason for this could be attributed to low-income economies.

Music Piracy Statistics

Music was among the first material to be pirated, infamously popularized by Napster in the late 90s to early 20s. Though the method helped artists get known by a global audience, the practice of piracy has caused immense damage in the music industry.

The 465-billion-strong music platform, Spotify, has been proven to reduce illegal downloads. However, regardless of the immense user base of streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music, piracy remains a big problem.

Let’s check out the numbers involved!

9. Music piracy led to the loss of 71,060 jobs. 


Many people need to be aware of the amount of work and the number of people involved in the music industry. Since music is ubiquitous, there needs to be more drive for both casual and passionate listeners to pay for the songs they're listening to. The lack of adequate support drives people out of work.

10. 23% of listeners listen to music via stream-ripping.

(Music Consumer Insight Report).

Stream-ripping is the internet term for obtaining a permanent copy of content streamed online. 

An circular graph showing that 23% of music listeners admit they listen to music via stream-ripping

Despite free ethical access to streaming sites such as YouTube, some people still need to make music available offline.

But about 23% want to refrain from subscribing to paid services which resulted in stream-ripping's popularity.

11. 87% of music listeners use their mobile devices to pirate.


There were about 73.9 billion visits to piracy websites in 2017. The mobility of smartphones makes it easier for consumers to access websites wherever they go. Unfortunately, this also gives music pirates more ease of access whenever visiting illegally sourced content. 

12. There's a 13.9% increase in visits to music piracy sites in 2022.


Muso's Piracy data insights showed that there had been an increase in website traffic across five media sectors.

An infographic showing the top three industries experiencing an increase in piracy film, publishing, and TV content

Film and publishing saw the highest growth at 42.5% and 58.5%, respectively. TV content showed a 19.2% increase in piracy. On the other hand, software piracy websites had a 9.6% increase.

Although these numbers fluctuate over the years, it is apparent that piracy is not letting up. 

13. More than 9 million people in the UK admit to music infringement.

(Gov. UK.)

During the height of the pandemic, surveys showed that the desire for variety drove the increase in content piracy. About 39% of the surveyed participants said the free cost contributed to their choice of online music access.

The no-strings-attached attitude to consuming new products and services makes piracy a viable option than paid subscriptions.

Movie and TV Series Piracy Statistics

Even before the lockdown of cinemas, movie piracy has been prevalent online. However, the numbers increased even more in the past couple of years, incurring massive losses in the movie industry.

The same is true for TV series formatted for online streaming channels. The glamorous celebrity status of artists gives the general public the impression that piracy isn't harming the industry. In fact, pirated videos get 230 billion views every year.

However, current stats show that this really isn't the case. We'll look at the figures below. 

14. Video piracy will cost up to $67 billion loss in revenue by 2023.

(Park Associates, CNBC)

It is estimated that video pirate operations will continue to be widespread and incur up to $67 billion in revenue loss. Even if just 10% of paid TV subscribers canceled their subscriptions, that would already incur a $6 billion revenue loss. 

Also, the survey found that about 5% of US households share credentials to access a paid TV service.

An infographic reporting that 5% of households share credentials to paid TV services

Streaming titan, Netflix, has 100 million households with shared accounts. However, they recently announced that they will crack down on household password-sharing. This is done so to boost its revenue and subscription numbers after the company showed increasing stagnation.


Obviously, their users weren’t pleased about this. Many argue that this will lead to more people opting for pirated content rather than paying an extra $7.99 monthly.

15. Pirated video content gets over 200 billion views per year.


The top-class marketing of US-produced shows gets them global recognition. However, this also leads to more drive to piracy. Of the estimated 200 billion views of pirated content per year, 170 billion are from overseas audiences.

16. House of the Dragon Season 1 was the most pirated show in 2022.


According to Muso's report, the Game of Thrones series was so popular that its final episode got pirated 54 million times within 24 hours.

No one was particularly shocked when House of the Dragon, the prequel to GOT, also topped the charts when it was released in 2022. Its piracy demand reached 17%, followed by the Japanese anime series Chainsaw Man with 13%.

E-Book Piracy Statistics

e-Books are great for people who are always on the go. Portable and lightweight, e-Book readers can hold thousands of books in just a few hundred grams, saving a lot of space in your bag and your home.

Despite being generally cheaper, many people still don’t want to pay $1-$20 for something they won’t have a physical copy of.

This unwillingness to pay for the hard work of authors has caused a surge in e-book piracy. Let’s dive into the world of numbers for e-books.

17. Publishers lose about $300 million annually due to e-book piracy.


Discontinuing a book series is an expected consequence of the illegal duplication and distribution of e-books. Small-time publishing companies and relatively new book authors struggle due to piracy.

An infographic showing that $300 million is the total annual income lost due to e-book piracy

The projected annual income loss is about $300 million, which could have helped many authors, proofreaders, editors, and others hone their craft and create more quality work.

18. The average age of e-book pirates in the US is between 30 to 44 years old. 

(PR Newswire) 

While Gen Z dominates stream-ripping, Millennials lead the e-book piracy demographics. e-Book pirates in the 30-40 age range earn about $60,000 to $99,000 yearly.

Growing up with the pro-sharing attitude raised in the early heydays of the internet, it’s no wonder millennials still pirate their ebooks despite being financially able to do so.

19. 4shared.com is the top 1 piracy site for e-books. 


A 2017 survey on piracy found that 4shared.com was the top choice among consumers who illegally download e-books. 50% of respondents admitted using the site, while others use Uploaded.net, Bookos.org, and Book4you.org.

Piracy Statistics by Country

Piracy is a worldwide phenomenon. However, it remains more prevalent in some countries than others and is prominent even in some of the world's wealthiest nations. However, while piracy is a crime among first-world countries, those in the developing world see piracy as a daily occurrence.

Downloading cracked, pirated, and free software remains rampant due to the absence of legal frameworks and mechanisms to combat piracy, costing the world millions in lost revenue.

Let's take a look at the numbers below.

20. US residents visited piracy websites the most in 2020


The US still leads online piracy, with 12.5 billion visits to piracy sites. This number may be mainly due to the mass production and consumption of media and literature in North America. With such a broader audience, there's more to lure into the piracy game. 

An infographic showing the US, Russia, and China as the top countries engaging with digital piracy

Other runners-up are:

  • Russia (8.3%)
  • China (6.9%)
  • India (5.6%)
  • Brazil (5.4%)
  • Ukraine (4.3%)
  • France (4.3%)

Due to their illegal nature, visiting a piracy site can compromise the integrity of your device and endanger your data.

👍 Helpful Article: 

Visiting piracy sites is illegal and jeopardizes your device's integrity and data. Learn how to protect yourself from hackers by checking out our informative articles on cybersecurity: 

21. Film piracy increased by more than 40% across the world.


When the lockdowns were implemented in 2020, online piracy soared at an unprecedented rate. MUSO's data found a 41% increase in the US, but the highest growth in the study was 66% in Italy. The United Kingdom had 43%, Spain had 50%, and India had 62% more events of illegal content viewing. 

The pandemic constricted people's movements, thus the rise in media consumption. Moreover, these findings show that more and more people have relaxed about pirating film material

22. 83% of software was duped in Indonesia in 2017.

Digital piracy remains rampant in developing countries due to the sheer cost of digital products. In developing countries, licensed software may cost 10 times more than those in developed countries.

Aside from this, the ease of accessing piracy websites to get cracked versions or key generators are some of the main factors why digital piracy in the third world is high.

Takeaway: Piracy Remains Unethical

The statistics on piracy reveal the severity of the problem in today's digital age. Although there have been efforts from various organizations to combat it, piracy continues to have a significant impact on the economy.

It is indeed essential that consumers get educated about the effects of piracy. A worldwide awareness can help legal and ethical practices to protect intellectual property rights. 

"Sharing is caring" may not always be the case when the livelihood of individuals is at stake.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the most pirated content?

Video materials, most especially pornography, are the most searched and consumed pirated content.

Is piracy the same as stealing?

Yes. Piracy is equal to theft. 

Why is piracy increasing?

The advent of legal streaming channels also drives a market of pirates.


Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.