Videocites: Piracy Hits Hollywood Big During Lockdown


Over the course of just 23 days, major studios lost more than $100 million thanks to piracy, around a half-dozen new releases, according to a new report from video tracking specialist Videocites.

The report tracked how, between March 20-April 11, six major releases from four studios were pirated across easily accessible social media platforms, with a total of 6.2 million illicit views during that time period.

“We’re not talking about the sinister dark web that requires a person to download Tor, buy a VPN, and navigate the backwaters of internet hell,” James Maysonet, head of business development for Videocites, wrote in the report. “We’re talking about YouTube, Facebook, VK and OK [Russia].

“These films are currently available on common platforms that are easy for anyone to search, find, and watch for free, so it’s no wonder there are millions of illegal views occurring as you read this.”

While acknowledging that content owners were forced into digital-first or -early scheduling thanks to the shuttering of theaters due to the pandemic, Maysonet questioned why the industry isn’t taking a more aggressive approach against what seems to be unfettered piracy. Takedowns are taking too long, he noted, pointing out that 206 illicit copies remained online for 4-6 days, garnering 1.7 million collective illegal views.

“Takedowns were occurring, but not before gaining a great deal of illegal views, while more illegal copies replaced them,” he wrote. “One day of pirated content on social media platforms delivers a great deal of damage, but seven days ushers a significant economic impact to the entertainment industry.

“What is needed is advanced technology that can identify content and adapt with speed and scalability to various alterations that pirates use to circumvent the current technologies,” he wrote.

In June of last year, Maysonet added, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) estimated that digital piracy costs the U.S. entertainment industry as much as $71 billion a year. Now that COVID-19 has forced Hollywood to halt production and postpone major theatrical releases, the biggest remaining revenue source — streaming services — needs a larger piracy focus, he argues.

To read the full report, click here.