Do you know that the websites and apps that feature pirated movies and TV shows earn over $1 billion annually through advertising? Don’t get surprised, it’s true. The report of a study carried out by Digital Citizens Alliance in collaboration with a piracy agency named White Bullet Solution claims that pirated entertainment sites earn more than $1.3 Billion in ad revenue every year.
This report on the advertising revenue was prepared by keeping an eye on the most active piracy platform (about 6000 sites and 900 apps) from June 2020 to May 2021 stated White Bullet (via Bloomberg).
The report also says that these pirated entertainment sites or platform are the primary source of malware and ransomware attacks. Some ads with malicious links might capture people’s personal information or important data and then use that data to threaten the individual.
About 84,000 such pirated platforms were discovered during research. The report also highlights the issue of how piracy harms the entertainment industries and the companies delivering digital advertising by reducing the amount of revenue they earn from the content they have created.
Also, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a motivating factor and made the situation from bad to worse. During the pandemic, the demand for streaming entertainment has increased tremendously. Many people frequently visit these pirated sites to enjoy free entertainment. Cybercriminals don’t let this opportunity go and use it to target new victims.
We can also understand the seriousness of the matter that Mega Star Scarlett Johansson sued Walt Disney for the earlier online premiere of her movie Black Widow and called piracy a massive problem in the current pandemic.
The leading brands and companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc accounted for approximately 4% of advertisements on pirated platforms or websites and about 24% of ads on piracy apps. The involvement of top brands makes the site look more authentic and people easily fall for a trap. However, most of the ad revenue is earned from ‘sponsored content’ as ‘clickbait’ links.
Although, top companies do not advertise intentionally on piracy platforms and the fact that companies can control or stop these platforms cannot be denied. We can take a look at Amazon’s example of how it managed to reduce the volume of its ads significantly from pirated platforms when alerted by an initiative called Trustworthy Accountability Group in early 2021 the report said.
Peter Szyszko, CEO and Founder of White Bullet told Bloomberg that,
“Failure to choose tools that access piracy risk in real-time means advertisers fund criminals – and it’s a billion-dollar problem. At best, this is negligent. At the worst, this is deliberate funding of IP crime.”