Pirating copyrighted material online is illegal, but millions of people do it anyway. Whether it’s because they can’t actually pay for their entertainment, can’t access it any other way, or feel entitled to it for free, people who illegally download music, movies, and TV shows do so at their own risk. Prosecution for media piracy is becoming increasingly common, and even people who use relatively secure bit torrent sites are finding themselves on the wrong side of piracy lawsuits.
Here are some statistics for TV show and music piracy in 2012:
Top 10 Shows
According to experts, piracy of TV shows occurs primarily because of a lack of legal download options. More than 80 percent of illegal TV show downloads occur outside of the U.S., primarily because the shows aren’t available through legal sources. Until networks such as HBO and Showtime make their hit series more accessible worldwide, piracy of TV shows is likely to continue.
Here were the ten most pirated shows of 2012:
- “Game of Thrones” – This epic, fantasy TV drama that follows the book series of the same name was the number-one pirated show of 2012, with over 4 million downloads for a single episode.
- “Dexter” – Proving that even a serial killer can be a likeable protagonist, Dexter was second most downloaded (falling from number one for 2011) with 3.9 million downloads.
- “The Big Bang Theory” – Aspergers-related situation-comedy has never been so popular. The Big Bang Theory, a show about physicist roommates and their neighbor, is in third place, with 3.2 million downloads.
- “How I Met Your Mother” – Neil Patrick Harris is certainly a big reason this sit-com about looking for love was the fourth most pirated show, with 2.9 million downloads.
- “Breaking Bad” – This drama about a chemistry teacher and his former student who cook meth has been called one of the best shows of all time. It was only the fifth most pirated in 2012, however, with nearly 2.6 million downloads.
- “The Walking Dead” – Zombies come in at number six in 2012, with 2.5 million downloads.
- “Homeland” – A CIA agent and a former marine rescued after years of imprisonment by al-Quaeda are the center of this drama with 2.4 million downloads.
- “House” – Arrogant addict, Dr. House, is eighth most popular, with over 2.3 million downloads.
- “Fringe” – Parallel universe sci-fi drama Fringe attracted nearly 2.3 million illegal viewers in 2012.
- “Revolution” – This post-apocalyptic drama explores modern survival without electricity or technology and was the tenth most pirated show, with 2.1 million downloads.
Unlike TV piracy, most music piracy occurs within the United States and is unrelated to accessibility problems, unlike TV piracy. Studies show that music piracy is hugely damaging on a local level, as well, costing the U.S. economy $12.5 billion dollars per year, $2 billion in lost wages to American workers, and more than 70,000 jobs.
Although the top 10 most pirated songs for 2012 haven’t been published, certain trends in music piracy this past year have emerged. For example, Rihanna is the number one most pirated recording artist, with her sixth album Talk That Talk having been illegally downloaded nearly 1.3 million times worldwide.
In the course of one six-month study, the most pirated song was Drake’s “The Motto,” which was stolen nearly half a million times. Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Watch The Throne album beat out Drake in his home country of Canada, however, with 71,132 illegal downloads from there.
According to the Digital Music Index, Gotye was also one of the top most pirated artists worldwide in 2012, with his album Making Mirrors pirated 903,603 times and his hit single “Somebody That I Used to Know” downloaded 683,123 times, potentially beating out Drake for the number one pirated single spot. Adele was also among the top five pirated recording artists in 2012.