A study commissioned by NBC Universal and conducted by brand monitoring firm Envisional says piracy is rampant on the Internet.
By Envisional’s estimate, 23.8 percent of global Web traffic involves some form of “digital theft.” Well-known file sharing application BitTorrent is used for 11 percent of that digital theft, Envisional’s study says. In the US, those numbers are 17 percent with BitTorrent used for 9 percent.
Google has been taking steps to slow that down. Ordinarily, its dynamic search tool shows similar results as you type but “BitTorrent” and other terms Google considers to be “related to piracy” no longer appear in that search. You have to type the entire search term, then press “Enter.” Other blacklisted search terms include curse words and of course, porn. Admittedly, that is only going to stop people who really, really lack persistence. Google’s execs know as much, but this way the company can at least tell the entertainment industry it tried.
The Motion Picture Association of America called for more government intervention. The MPAA released a statement from Interim President Bob Pisano saying if tangible merchandise were stolen at the same rate digital things are, no one would stand for it. While that may be true, it will take more than attempting to block search terms to combat the problem.
People do not seem to be embracing the “digital theft is as bad as real world theft” argument. Watching a “bootleg” movie doesn’t carry the same social stigma as shoplifting even though they are technically the same thing. If Envisional’s numbers are close to correct, a quarter of the people online are engaging in some form of digital theft.
We’d need a digital prison because no real prison could hold 25 percent of the people on the Internet access.