Entertainment

More people are pirating movies during the coronavirus lockdown

Key Points
  • During the last seven days of March, there was a 43% spike in Americans visiting sites that pirate movies compared with the last seven days of February.
  • Italy, which went under lockdown orders on March 9, saw visits to piracy sites spike 66%.
  • Last year, the Global Innovation Policy Center estimated that worldwide online piracy costs the U.S. economy between $29.2 billion and $71 billion in lost revenue each year.
From left, Salvatore Corsitto as Bonasera, James Caan as Santino “Sonny” Corleone and Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone in the film “The Godfather.”
Silver Screen Collection | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Streaming services have seen a major surge in subscriber growth during the coronavirus pandemic, but the outbreak is also driving more people to use pirated movie websites.

New data from Muso, a piracy tracking firm, found that during the last seven days of March, there was a 43% spike in Americans visiting sites that pirate movies compared with the last seven days of February.

"This unprecedented increase in visits to online film piracy sites in the last week of March reveals that as more countries enforced lockdowns and required citizens to self-isolate, demand for content via piracy grew exponentially," the company said in a statement.

Notably, Italy, which went under lockdown orders on March 9, saw visits to piracy sites spike 66%.

"Piracy or unlicensed consumption trends are closely linked to paid-for or licensed content," Andy Chatterley, CEO of Muso, said in a statement. "So, just as Netflix has seen large subscriber gains, we have seen a significant spike in visits to film piracy sites." 

Last year, the Global Innovation Policy Center estimated that worldwide online piracy costs the U.S. economy at least $29.2 billion in lost revenue each year. That figure could be as high as $71 billion, the center, which is part of the United States Chamber of Commerce, reported. That's a revenue reduction of between 11% and 24%, it said.

And that was before the coronavirus pandemic increased consumers' use of film pirating websites.

Read all of CNBC's coronavirus coverage here.

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