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23 Torrenting Statistics You Should Learn About in 2023
Updated · Aug 10, 2023
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For many, torrenting is an easy way to access otherwise unavailable or expensive media. Despite the rise of streaming and digital downloads, torrenting remains one of the most popular ways to access entertainment media and software.
As one of the most popular forms of peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing, torrenting is one of the leading methods people use to pirate online. While they are usually used to download copyrighted material illegally, it also has several legitimate uses.
There’s more to torrenting than you might expect. Let’s dive deeper into the figures involved!
How Common is Torrenting?
Torrenting is a common occurrence due to its convenience. Most entertainment industries already focus on subscription services like Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Go. However, having multiple subscriptions can get expensive and overwhelming.
Many users would rather depend on torrenting than pay for multiple services. In 2021, pirate websites received 182 billion visits worldwide. Studies also show that COVID-19 caused a spike of 21.9% in online piracy in the same year.
However, Torrenting isn’t always bad. It is legally used to share large files among trusted sources or to the public, such as:
- Open-source software
- Academic papers
- Government data
- Public domain media
🎉 Fun Fact: Torrents are used more extensively than we might expect. They are used by organizations like:
Torrenting is an efficient and cost-effective way to move large files around. Without it, many organizations would likely have to spend more on storage or find alternative means to share their files.
Learn more about the torrenting statistics in this list below:
Torrent Usage Statistics
Torrenting allows users to access all kinds of data and information. Through this, its usages vary from what people need. The leading torrent downloading protocol, BitTorrent, has over 170 million users.
With this, we can see how commonplace torrenting can be. Here are some noteworthy torrent usage statistics:
1. Around 28 million individuals do P2P file sharing every day.
(VPN Crew, FTC)
Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing dominated the film piracy scene in the last decade. While it’s an excellent way to share content, music, and films, it also affects the entertainment industry. People who wanted to access music no longer had to buy it because they could download it online.
P2P sharing is also beneficial for businesses. The technology can allow computers to share large digital files with other computers in a network. However, it can become a security risk if not configured properly, such as sharing sensitive data.
2. 59% of users know that streaming or downloading pirated content is illegal.
Furthermore, 39% of users don’t care that studios lose billions because of pirated videos or songs. Only 19% of Internet users said they’d stop downloading content illegally because of the financial damage it causes.
🎉 Fun Fact: The oldest active torrent known in the history of the internet is the Matrix ASII. Created in December of 2003, it contained the entire Matrix movie.
3. Online video piracy costs the US economy $29.2 to $71 billion annually.
In 2017, there were 106.9 billion visits to pirated TV streaming sites. Since paid streaming services offer limited content, most people turn to pirated movie sites to watch popular TV shows.
4. The most pirated TV series is the House of the Dragon.
(Statista, Washington Post)
Game of Thrones ended in 2019, but its prequel, House of the Dragon, dominated the piracy scene in 2022. It may seem alarming for the award-winning series. Still, HBO owner Jeff Bewkes said that piracy was “better than an Emmy” as it means more people will watch it, and more would pay for it.
5. 52.3% of users worldwide preferred to stream pirated content in 2021.
Stream-ripping music is the latest trend in pirating music files. You can find many stream-ripping websites with just one quick search. Any user can convert a file from any streaming platform, like Youtube. There are also multiple film streaming sites where you can watch movies and TV shows illegally, depending on your location or VPN access.
6. You’re 28 times more likely at risk of malware infiltration if you download illegal content.
(Enterprise Apps Today)
Malware is an umbrella term for software hackers designed to damage or infiltrate an electronic device. Downloading unsafe files makes your devices vulnerable to malware attacks, causing data and file loss.
There are many types of malware you can get from torrents, like:
Cybercrime costs the world $6 trillion annually. With this, you should always use a VPN or any other added layer of security when accessing torrent sites. Download a virus scanner and delete any download you suspect has malware.
7. Since 2012, the Internet Archive has used BitTorrent to distribute its public files.
In many ways, the Internet Archive is a modern-day Library of Alexandria, with the bonus that it is a collective, community-funded effort to preserve Internet history and knowledge.
In 2012, roughly 1.4 million items could be downloaded legally via BitTorrent, amounting to one petabyte of public domain materials. In 2021, it reported having 212 petabytes of stored data.
🎉 Fun Fact: The Internet Archive’s side project, the Wayback Machine, allows users to revisit more than 800 billion archived copies of web pages that no longer exist. The Wayback Machine allows visitors to “go back in time” and visit websites and webpages that don’t exist anymore to:
8. Some of our beloved games are legally distributed via Torrents.
(Yahoo! Finance, Wowpedia)
40% of the world’s daily internet traffic is transmitted via the BitTorrent protocol. For over a decade now, the BitTorrent protocol has been the digital native’s tool for content. As the world’s biggest decentralized protocol, it provides an easy and accessible way to download games, game trailers, and other media legally. Hosting early games such as:
- World of Warcraft
- The Burning Crusade
- Diablo III
- StarCraft II
TIL that Blizzard Entertainment uses BitTorrent (via a proprietary client called the "Blizzard Downloader") to distribute content and patches for Diablo III, StarCraft II and World of Warcraft, including the games themselves
Using a Torrent protocol helps gaming companies reduce server load and costs through peer-to-peer networks instead of centralized servers. It is also an efficient way to distribute patches and large updates without relying on third-party platforms.
Torrent Users Demographics
Torrenting was invented in 2001 when Bram Cohen created it at the University of Buffalo. Soon after, the Pirate Bay launched, ushering in a new age for the Internet for people to share their data. More than 20 years later, Torrenting remains alive and well, even in the golden age of streaming and subscription services.
Now, downloading torrents is an almost daily occurrence among Internet users, especially those in countries with strict censorship laws.
Torrent users vary in age, purposes, and location. While some may have assumptions about who uses torrents the most, current figures show unexpected numbers. Read on to know more!
9. Illegal music downloading is prevalent among 70% of 18-29-year-olds, compared to 46% of other adults.
Piracy and torrenting of copyrighted materials are illegal. However, most children or teens cannot access online payments, and most resort to torrenting. Most of them report also feeling less guilty in doing so.
On the other hand, the EU Intellectual Property Office’s 2019 Intellectual Property and Youth Scoreboard showed younger people aged 15-24 show a change in attitude and awareness towards piracy. From 48% in 2016, young people seeing piracy as “not cool” rose to 56% in 2019.
10. In 2008, the average teenager’s iPod contained 800 pirated songs.
At its peak, torrenting music became the trend for teens. 61% of 14-17-year-olds had illegally downloaded songs on their devices. On the other hand, 96% of 18-24-year olds pirated content online.
Well before Spotify and Apple Music, music lovers of the 2000s to 2010s relied on websites such as Napster, LimeWire, Morpheus, and torrents to download music.
🎉 Fun Fact: According to the University of Waterloo, the most torrented songs of all time are:
While the most torrented albums are:
11. 41% of adult ebook piracy users fall between 18 and 29 years old.
47% are in the 30-44 age range, with the remaining 13% being 45 years and above. While music and movies earned the top spots in piracy popularity, books are not exempt. In 2017, around 16.5 million electronic books (ebook) downloaders were in the US.
12. The typical pirate is a male aged 16-24 residing in urban areas.
(MPA, Ars Technica, International IJC)
44.44% of college-age males participate in online music piracy, compared to only 14.62% of females in the same age range. Both genders like music, yet this statistic shows that males typically engage in piracy.
The gendered aspect of piracy can also be seen in other countries. For example, a UK survey found that British men are likelier to pirate online media content than women. Out of 2000 respondents, the study showed that:
- 59% were aware of piracy laws, but only half knew the consequences
- ⅕ knew where to find illegal content
- 57% of those ages 16-24 said they knew where to find illegal media
A smaller study of Indonesian students showed that males also have a more positive outlook toward digital piracy than females.
Torrenting Statistics by Country
Since piracy is rising, it’s no secret that more countries participate in torrenting than others. The United States is the frontrunner regarding online piracy and torrenting, followed by a few smaller countries. It appears the world is getting more into downloading content if it means they could consume these media for free.
These statistics by country will tell you the top countries participating in torrent:
13. Piracy rates are highest in China at 90%, Russia at 70%, and Thailand at 79%.
Software piracy is a billion-dollar industry in Asia. China houses the most significant piracy losses, amounting to $568 million. While torrents are legal in China, many torrenting sites are geo-restricted.
Of all software sold, only 4% are legitimate purchases, and 96% belong to piracy. Apart from Russia and Thailand, the IIPA monitors India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and South Korea for high piracy rates.
Many people pirate content to access geo-restricted media, such as Netflix shows unavailable in their country due to copyright policies.
14. India is the leading country for film piracy, with around 1 billion visits.
Online piracy and torrenting in India rose to 62% due to the aftermath of COVID-19. The cause for the spike is the halted use of cinemas and the rapid rise of social media video platforms, where users can upload movies on apps for free.
This also causes problems for filmmakers and concerns for intellectual property within the country. With the rising number of internet users and better access to internet infrastructure, more people have access to pirated content.
15. There are 17.38 billion visits to online piracy sites in the United States.
(Dataprot, The PIT Journal)
America loses $29.2 billion every year because of online video piracy. Recent reports also show that film piracy increased by 33% during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Up to 560,000 jobs are lost every year due to video piracy. These numbers prove that people in the US are the top offenders in film piracy.
Movie piracy has also risen since studios have started to bypass theatrical releases of movies. With the rise of streaming, more movies are directly released onto platforms like Netflix, which already has 230.75 million subscribers.
Despite efforts to eliminate online piracy, it remains alive and thriving. Despite claims that piracy is ruining the entertainment industry, even top executives like Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, see its benefits. He claims that piracy has led to “more penetration, more paying subs, more health for HBO, less reliance on having to do paid advertising.”
16. The Netherlands hosts multiple torrent sites.
(Corsearch, BBC, MUO)
The Netherlands has relaxed piracy rules, and downloading copyrighted material is legal. However, they draw the line at software.
One of the torrent sites once hosted, The Pirate Bay, is the most popular website to use the BitTorrent protocol that distributes moves, games, and music.
However, efforts by the Dutch government and the European Court of Justice pushed the website out of the country. Google also geo-blocked the site out of the Netherlands in 2021 to enforce the results of a Dutch court ruling.
17. Europe leads the top torrenting regions, having 45.72% of all worldwide downloads.
BitTorrent remains popular in Europe, with 50% of the total uploaded traffic still associated with the protocol. In 2020, the US authorities, Europol, and Eurojust took down 60 servers in North America, Europe, and Asia. They also arrested numerous suspects in the case.
TorrentFreak claims that European countries make up the top 10 regarding the average number of visits per user. Latvia, Bulgaria, and Estonia take the top three spots.
Torrenting is more likely to occur in countries where users are less likely to be punished.
18. Italy had a 50% jump in streaming site visits in early 2020.
(The Wall Street Journal)
During the early days of COVID-19, online piracy significantly increased in Italy, with around 66% during the last week of March 2021 - a massive climb from the number in February 2020.
19. It is legal to download torrents in Spain if you don’t profit from them.
In 2015, around 90% of online content was pirated in Spain. Torrenting is legal in Spain because government officials don’t think people can make money out of it. It doesn’t work out for everyone, as it becomes a problem for artists to earn money for their creations.
The Intellectual Property Law was released in the same year, which fined piracy websites for illegal activity.
20. 90% of internet users in Mexico download music torrents every day.
The BSA claimed the value of Mexican pirated software amounted to $1.249 billion. Despite the relentless efforts of Mexican government officials, there has been a decrease of 1% in piracy every year since 2009.
Regardless, many people are not more open to paying for streaming. Music streaming titan Spotify collected a record revenue of €8.56 billion for the first three quarters of 2022 alone.
21. In Canada, torrenting copyrighted material is a civil offense, costing users a fine of $100 if caught.
Canada has strict copyright protocols regarding copyright modernization and torrenting. Most internet service providers (ISP) and VPNs in the country must log users' browsing histories and download activity.
Legal authorities can fine users engaging in legal authorities with a minimum amount of $100. However, fines may reach up to $5000. Since then, about 1000 Canadian citizens have been fined by copyright holders in Canada.
22. 33% of Internet traffic in the Asia-Pacific area is attributed to BitTorrent visits.
Despite the US and Europe contending for the most torrenting use, Asia-Pacific’s BitTorrent traffic is increasing by up to 50% compared to other upstream and downstream use on the internet.
23. US citizens had 12.5 billion visits to online piracy sites in 2020.
The US has taken the top spot in online piracy. This is due to North America's vast production and consumption of entertainment media and literature. Another factor is the country's large user base, primarily focusing on gaming torrent sites.
After the US, Russia ranked 2nd with 8.3 billion visits, followed by China with 7 billion trips.
👍 Helpful Articles: Torrents can be used in several ways, both legally and otherwise. If you’re interested in Torrenting, check out our article on 9 anonymous ways to torrent.
Torrenting and piracy are the internet’s most significant inventions. Many policies and laws surround online piracy and torrents. However, internet users still rely on these sites for free software, games, and music.
BitTorrent, uTorrent, and streaming sites are for all and allow users access to files that may or may not be available within their home country. Some also rely on these sites to provide access to banned data, games, and books.
Despite this, torrenting is still a two-edged sword - you get free stuff but might get a virus or malware in return. Practice internet safety by using private networks, VPN, hiding your IP address, and using specified web browsers with VPN for torrenting.
How much money is lost to piracy?
TV and film piracy costs around $29 billion in loss in the US alone. Piracy also accounts for the industry loss of 230,000 to 560,000 jobs in the entertainment industry.
Can you get jail for torrenting?
It will depend on the legal statutes of the country you are living. Some countries like Canada, UK, and US have strict piracy laws. At the same time, some, such as Netherlands and Switzerland, have relaxed copyright codes.
Which country is best for torrenting?
Sweden. The speed and servers in Sweden are optimal for torrent downloads. Most torrent users also use Sweden servers to download their files.
Do I need antivirus when torrenting?
Yes. It would be better to have a good firewall or antivirus system to protect you from viruses, as some torrents may have malware or viruses. You have to remember that torrenting is still illegal; it's one-way hackers can get to your system.
What does torrenting target the most?
Your location or IP address. When you download a torrent, your IP address is exposed to all downloading the same file. Hackers can use this to access your Wi-Fi network and infiltrate your personal computer.
What is the advantage of using torrents to download files?
Torrenting files or downloading using torrent is faster than conventional downloading. Seeding can also help other users download the same file faster.
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Updated · Nov 30, 2023
Updated · Dec 05, 2023