2012: The Year in Piracy

by Scott Lindemann December 31st, 2012 | Cyber Culture, Featured
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torrent2012 has been an interesting year in the world of copyright and online piracy. Pirate Bay founder, Gottfrid Svartholm, was extradited to Sweden to serve his jail sentence, The Pirate Bay became a mammoth distribution and promotion machine while Demonoid saw its demise yet again, and more restrictive copyright legislation has crept increasingly in the United States and the U.K. As interesting as it’s been, it’s the same song and dance that has been ongoing since the turn of the century–copyright holders attempting to maintain control over their product, and pirates doing what they do best.

Dedicated piracy news website, TorrentFreak, recently published a series of articles providing some insight into the piracy scene–specifically the torrent scene–of the year 2012. They’re quite interesting and rather telling.

The top search terms for the popular Bit Torrent tracker kat.ph began with “The Walking Dead” (the hit television show and comic series) at number 1. In 2nd place came the search term “2012,” which allowed users to find recently posted content. “French” was 3rd, showing a lot of French interest in pirated content. Meanwhile, the hit comedy film “Ted,” and the revered television series “Dexter” rounded out the top 5. It’s interesting to note that the majority of the top 50 searched terms were film and television, with only a handful of software-related searches (Windows 7, Android, Minecraft), and literally no music-related terms to be found. This could be a reflection of general interest among users of torrents; however, the more likely conclusion is simply a matter of what this particular tracker is used for.

In speaking specifically of T.V. shows, Game of Thrones was the top pirated T.V. show of 2012, followed by Dexter, The Big Bang TheoryHow I Met Your Mother, and Breaking BadThe Walking Dead just missed the top 5, coming in 6th place, ahead of HomelandHouse, Fringe, and Revolution.

When it came to the top pirated movies of 2012, there was a bit of a shocker. Project X, an unimpressive film about two teenagers who throw a party that grows wildly out of control, came in the top spot, beating out box office favorites like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in 2nd place, and The Dark Knight Rises in 3rd place. The list continued with The AvengersSherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, 21 Jump StreetThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The DictatorIce Age: Continental Drift, and The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1.

The most popular torrent sites of 2012 saw a few newcomers in the list since 2011. 1337x popped onto the list at #10, Bitsnoop came in at #9, and EZTV at #8. The top of the list remained pretty consistent with last year, as The Pirate Bay held onto the top spot, with Torrentz once again in 2nd place. Kat.ph (#3) and IsoHunt (#4) switched places since 2011, and BTjunkie remains in 5th place. Somehow Demonoid managed to make the list after being inoperable for a good portion of the year with little chance of a revival anytime in the foreseeable future.

I predict we will see more of the same from the copyright lobby. It is my concern that we will witness further efforts to make legal content more difficult to enjoy, with at least one new form of DRM being implemented on a wide scale. Meanwhile, I think we’ll see increased support for content sharing in the European Union. My fear, however, is that the United States may simply make things more difficult on those fighting for relaxed copyright restrictions due to the corruption and monetary influence that the big media companies have in Washington.

My resolution for this year is the same as it’s always been with regards to piracy–continue to look for appealing, legal alternatives. In the past year I’ve joined Netflix and Spotify, and even purchased some things from iTunes. Piracy was actually quite low on my list of priorities this year, and I hope I can continue to whittle away at the need for it in 2013. Only with less reliance on the archaic cable companies and media distribution methods will we see this sort of needed change, but I have a feeling we will get there eventually.

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