21 Online Piracy Statistics You Need to Know

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 keeps skyrocketing throughout the years. Studies show that the pandemic aggravated piracy by increasing the rate to 21.9% in 2021. 

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. In this article, we'll look at online piracy statistics and their effects on the global market.

Editor's Choice ( How common is internet piracy) 

  • 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. As a result, millennials gained the top spot among consumer groups that pirate content.   Journal of Consumer Affairs published a study in 2022 that confirmed this claim: Millennials rank higher than Generation Z in music piracy. 

In this section, we'll 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. The economic downfall exacerbated by the pandemic also became a huge contributing factor to the rise in piracy numbers. 

Here are the statistics that are common 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.  

The 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, etc., 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. In the 2019 survey of Statista, 34% of the Gen Z population admitted to stream-ripping. The Gen Z generation is those who were born between 1997-2013.

Also, Gen Z users do copyright infringement more than the rest of the sample population. The next big consumer group (following Millenials) is not on the track to eliminate global piracy.

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.


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

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.

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. 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. 

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

( BSA)

Cybercriminals exploit people's inclination to download free and illegally sourced programs. Consequently, this results in more expensive damages. Each malware attack costs about $2.4 million on average per company. Repercussions include operation downtime, reputation damage, possible loss of business data, and 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.

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 is 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 damaged the music industry.

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).

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. This resistance resulted in stream-ripping's popularity.

11. 87% of music listeners use their mobile device 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. Film and Publishing saw the highest growth at 42.5% and 58.5%, respectively. Software piracy websites had a 9.6% increase. And TV content had a 19.2% 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. But this 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)

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 cancelled 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.

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. It's not a shocker 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

The average price of books (e-books and paperback) ranges from $3 to $17—the price pirates don't want to pay, causing a surge in e-book piracy.

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. The projected annual income loss is about $300 million, which could have helped many authors, proofreaders, editors, etc.

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

(PR Newswire) 

Once again, the millennial generation proves that they propagate a pro-sharing attitude. The study by Digimarc Corporation also showed that e-book pirates in this age range earn about $60,000 to $99,000 yearly. They are more likely within the capacity to pay for the legally sourced copies of books, but the piracy culture is more ingrained in their psyche.

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

As we have already seen, piracy is a worldwide phenomenon. But it is prevalent in some countries more than others. It is prominent even in some of the world's wealthiest nations. Let's take a look at the numbers below.

20. US residents visited piracy websites the most in 2020


The US has taken the lead in 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. 

The Russian Federation ranked second, followed by China with 8.3 billion and 7 billion visits to piracy websites in 2020.

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.

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.


Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.