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For the month of May, we’re bringing you another list of facts about online piracy, but this time we hope the anecdotes we’re about to tell you are less well-known; some of them are actually quite amusing.

The Game of Thrones team wasn't angry about the series being pirated

Everyone knows that Game of Thrones, still in 2024, is one of the most pirated TV series on the Internet, as is its prequel House of the Dragon. George Martin’s books are also among the most downloaded since the series began. But did you know that the creators and producers were actually quite happy for these shows to be pirated? Indeed, several of them declared that piracy was a good indicator of success. Director David Petrarca declared that illegal downloads helped the series by generating a “buzz”. Author George R.R. Martin and HBO programming president Michael Lombardo both said that high piracy rates were compliments to the quality of the series; Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, which owns HBO, even declared that massive piracy was “better than an Emmy”.

Netflix uses piracy statistics to improve its catalog

Netflix looks very closely at popular downloads from digital piracy sites to complement its content development strategy, both to produce its own shows and films and to acquire the rights to new content. Netflix also uses feedback from consumers who use piracy sites to improve its service and make it more user-friendly than the most popular illegal sites. The platform even sends questionnaires to its users to find out which piracy sites are the most popular. Netflix were the first to understand that piracy was not a question of price, but of convenience and quality.

Why piracy really isn't a victimless crime

No one can ignore the fact that piracy affects a large number of jobs in the entertainment industry and, consequently, the lives of ordinary people. Contrary to some people’s belief, it doesn’t only harm people who are already too rich anyway.

But did you know that there are links, well known for years, between digital piracy and the financing of organized crime and terrorism? Since a 2009 report turned into a book it had already been shown that revenues generated by piracy are widely used to finance terrorist groups. In 2017, a bill was even introduced in the US Senate to deal specifically with this issue. Interpol has found links between income from piracy and counterfeiting and groups such as well-known Islamic terrorist groups, but also armed groups present in South America, India and Europe.

The more you're addicted to screen time, the more likely you are to pirate.

A study carried out by several researchers from Appalachian State University, Tennessee Tech, Shippensburg University and the University of Louisville has shown that people showing signs of screen addiction hack much more than others. In this study, screen addiction is considered present if negative effects such as withdrawal symptoms appear daily. Respondents who fit this description were three times more likely to consume pirated content, download it and make it available to others.

Some musicians have even encouraged piracy

Music piracy has diminished considerably nowadays, but it was a major problem in the years 2000-2010. But some musicians weren’t exactly opposed to it. In 2007, industrial metal band Nine Inch Nails began leaving USB sticks containing songs from their forthcoming album Year Zero in concert venue bathrooms, encouraging fans to share the songs online. In the end, it turned out that only songs approved by the band were released before the album’s release, showing that musicians can control how their work is distributed. As early as 1981, punk provocateurs Dead Kennedys were selling cassettes of their album In god we trust, inc with a blank side and this ironic caption: “Home recording kills record industry profits! We’ve left this side blank so you can help us”.

Other artists have found fun ways to fight piracy

Actor, performer and judge on the hit reality show Drag Race, RuPaul, has released his album “Born Naked” on The Pirate Bay, with a special surprise for those who pirate it. The leaked version includes the first parts of each track, followed by a speech by RuPaul over his own music. At first glance, the album appears to be complete, and even the beginnings of all the tracks seem legitimate. However, the music quickly stops and RuPaul intervenes with a message accusing the downloader of theft, and encouraging them to go to iTunes to buy the album “because I want to have some”, then RuPaul continues with random interventions, amusing skits, and well-felt, colorful insults to pirates. Madonna and the band Alestorm have had similar ideas, releasing fake pirate versions of their albums.

Join us in mid-May for the rest of our article. In the meantime, if you have a film, series, software or e-book to protect, don’t hesitate to call on our services by contacting one of our account managers; PDN has been a pioneer in cybersecurity and anti-piracy for over ten years, and we’re bound to have a solution to help you. Enjoy your reading, and see you soon!

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