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  1. When governments began to implement lockdown measures to hamper the spread of COVID-19, hundreds of millions of people were asked to stay at home. This resulted in a piracy peak. While some thought that this increase could be permanent, global traffic to pirate sites has already dropped and is now at a new low. When the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread across the globe this year, there were noticeable changes in Internet traffic patterns. Internet usage went up overall, with YouTube being the big winner. However, pirate sites noticed a significant boost in visitor numbers as well. This was illustrated early March in the most affected regions, a trend we could later see elsewhere too, coinciding with lockdown measures. This was subsequently backed up by a report from piracy tracking company MUSO which found measures traffic to pirate sites increased by over 50% locally. Today, COVID-19 still keeps a tight grip on society in many countries. But there are also positive signs. In many regions the situation is starting to improve and, as a result, lockdown measures are being loosened, with people picking up life as usual. If we look at the global visitor counts of pirate sites, this change is also noticeable. The graph below, based on data from MUSO, shows that visitor numbers started to drop again in May and are now lower than they were before the pandemic started. Global Visits to Pirate Sites January 1 – May 31, 2020 The graph below includes all types of pirate sites and all countries, so it doesn’t mean that the effects are the same everywhere. In some countries, the peaks and subsequent drops were more pronounced than elsewhere, but the overall downward trend is obvious. The type of pirate site makes a difference too. For example, the Coronavirus peak is most visible for sites that offer pirated films. This may be in part due to the fact that movie theaters closed in a lot of countries. Global Visits to Film Pirate Sites January 1 – May 31, 2020 On Sunday March 1st, film pirate sites received roughly 60 million visits. This went up to 86 million on the second Sunday of April and dropped down to 46 million during the last Sunday in May. Music piracy sites, on the other hand, were less affected by the pandemic it seems. Instead, the four-month trend shows pretty much a gradual decline. Global Visits to Music Pirate Sites January 1 – May 31, 2020 While there are individual differences between countries the peak is clearly over. In fact, the number of pirate site visits is now at a new low point, which is roughly a 25% drop compared to the start of the year. As mentioned before, the pandemic isn’t over yet, so we should caution that traffic patterns may also change again. That said, these broad and global changes suggest that the influx of new visitors to pirate sites is not going to be permanent. Source
  2. The new coronavirus continues to spread around the world, with many governments responding with social distancing measures and lockdowns. These restrictions have far-reaching consequences and have also boosted piracy and BitTorrent traffic worldwide. Today, we show how these increases closely follow the measures taken by various countries. The coronavirus pandemic has massively increased Internet traffic. This applies to work usage, legal entertainment, but also file-sharing. Last week we showed how downloads, including content from popular sites such as The Pirate Bay, YTS, and RARBG, have increased in recent weeks. While this upward trend is clearly visible in the global numbers, zooming in at the country level adds a more detailed perspective. That is exactly what we did over the past several days, resulting in some rather intriguing findings. To begin, we take a look at Italy, which was the first European country to be severely impacted by COVID-19. Responding to the increasing threat, the local government implemented a lockdown on March 9th, instructing people to stay indoors. Using data provided by iknowwhatyoudownload.com, we analyzed the number of Italian IP-addresses that were found sharing torrents from the start of the year, as well as the tracked number of downloads. The graph below shows that both the number of downloads and the unique IP-addresses reached new highs on March 9, after which they continued to go up for a few days, to then stabilize. On March 8, there were 592K downloads and 213K IP-addresses. A week later these numbers were up to 810K and 304K respectively. In Spain, there is a similar trend that started a few days later, again coinciding with the lockdown measures. The Spanish Government ordered its lockdown on March 14, with both the number of downloads and unique IP-addresses reaching new highs on that exact date. Similar to the Italian situation, both numbers continued to go up for a while. A week after the lockdown started, reported downloads and IP-addresses were up by roughly a third. In France, the effect of the countrywide measures is also clearly visible. Again, both numbers reached a yearly high on the day the lockdown went into effect, growing even further in the following days. There is also an upward trend in the UK, as can be seen in the graph below. This effect is less pronounced than elsewhere, likely because people are still allowed to move relatively freely, which is a clear difference compared to the previously mentioned countries. There are also some clear outliers in Europe. In the Netherlands, for example, there is no significant uptick in torrent downloads or IP-addresses. This, despite the intelligent-lockdown that’s been ordered locally. There is not much change in Sweden either. That was more or less expected, however, as the Scandinavian country hasn’t taken any extreme measures to curb the spread of the virus. Moving over to the United States we see that there appears to be a small increase in downloads over the past few weeks, but nothing that really stands out. This is likely because most of the restrictive measures are limited to a few affected regions. In South America, however, the effects are very clear in some countries. In Argentina, for example, which issued a lockdown on March 19, reported download numbers and IP-addresses shot up in the following days. On March 17, there were 508K downloads and 179K IP-addresses, and by the 25th these numbers had gone up to 706K and 254K respectively. Moving around the world, we see similar boosts taking place. South Africa issued a three-week lockdown order starting on March 26, with torrent downloads and reported IP-addresses going up around the same time. A similar spike was also evident in Saudi Arabia at the time more stringent measures were announced in some regions. On March 9 the first restrictions went into effect in Qatif, with measures following in Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina later in the month. In Asia, the findings are not always as expected. While we previously reported on other data that showed that visits to file-sharing sites surged in China, the same pattern doesn’t appear in the downloads and IP-address data. This is also true for South Korea. We did find a notable increase in some other Asian countries. In Singapore, for example, although the increase there had already started before the most far-reaching measures were made public. On the whole, however, it is striking to see how many of these charts follow the COVID-19 measures locally. The overall trend appears to be that the more strict the lockdown measures are, the greater effect they have on BitTorrent activity. It will be interesting to see how these graphs develop over time. Will they eventually return to the pre-corona numbers or remain at a higher level? The data used for the graphs presented here were provided by iknowwhatyoudownload.com. While this is not a full record of all BitTorrent traffic, it is certainly helpful to reveal trends within countries. For full transparency, we make the underlying data available here (January 1, 2020 – April 6, 2020). This also includes other countries. Source
  3. Hundreds of millions of people are being asked to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. This is having a widespread effect on worldwide consumption habits including Internet usage. New data obtained by TorrentFreak suggests that there has been a surge in global file-sharing traffic as well as an increased number of visitors to pirate sites. The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. In every continent, local governments have imposed restrictive measures, urging people to stay inside as much as possible. As a result of these restrictions, Internet traffic has gone up. More people are working from home over remote connections while others pass the time by looking for online news and entertainment. Traffic to several legal streaming services has gone up significantly. YouTube, in particular, has gained a lot of traffic. In March, traffic management company Sandvine reported a global 10% increase in traffic to the streaming site, which helped it surpass Netflix for the first time. The effects of the Covid-19 crisis are not limited to legal entertainment consumption, however. A few weeks ago we already signaled that interest in pirate sites had gone up in regions where a lockdown had been imposed. Using a variety of data sources, we can now show that piracy and file-sharing traffic is impacted around the world. We start with China, where the virus impacted daily life first. Mid-January the new coronavirus started to make headlines and on January 23, 2020, authorities in Wuhan announced a quarantine and prevented travel in and out of the region. In the days that followed, more restrictions followed in China. Looking at the number of Chinese visitors to pirate sites, from December to the end of February, we see that these measures had a clear impact. The data in question come from piracy tracking from MUSO and were kindly shared with TorrentFreak. The graph below shows that a sharp increase in pirate site visits started on January 24, reaching a peak on the 27th. Pirate site traffic started to drop off a bit after that, but at the end of February, it was still roughly 20% more than before the Coronavirus measures started. Chinese pirate site visits While MUSO’s data are valuable, they only run to the end of February, while the measures in most other countries started around mid-March. To cover the global trend we, therefore, obtained the number of daily BitTorrent downloads, as measured by iknowwhatyoudownload.com. This service tracks millions of files that are available on public torrent sites, including The Pirate Bay and YTS. The worldwide torrent download estimates show a clear increase from March 6 to April 6. They started off by hovering around 12 million daily recorded downloads and went up to 16 million a month later, which is a 33% increase. Tracked torrent downloads worldwide This spike is also visible at the torrent tracker level. The operator of OpenTrackr.org, a widely used content-neutral tracker, informs us that he sees an uptick in the total number of connections as well as the number of connected peers. OpenTrackr.org recently implemented a technical change, which makes it hard to compare numbers over a longer period of time. However, the number of connected peers were increasing both before and after the change. As shown below, between March 31 and April 6, the peer count went up from little over 24 million to more than 26 million during the daily peak. Peer count on OpenTrackr The data presented throughout this article clearly suggest that the coronavirus outbreak is increasing piracy and file-sharing traffic. This is visible on a global level, but we expect the country-specific trends to be even more pronounced. We are still processing some additional data to shed some more light on local trends and hope to highlight these in a future article. Source
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