Scientists Confirm That Blocking Pirate Sites Does Absolutely Nothing

A team of scientists has finally bothered to do a study, crunch the numbers and come to the same conclusion as everyone else — blocking pirate sites does nothing to stop piracy.

Researchers from Boston Northeastern University carried out a study to determine how effective various anti-piracy strategies were, including blockades and censorship. By monitoring thousands of files, across various file-hosting services, the researchers tracked the availability of pirated media. They discovered that takedown notices, which Big Media fires out willy-nilly, basically do nothing to reduce the availability of copyrighted material.

Also, their research pinpointed an actual uptick in pirated media available on various file-hosting sites after MegaUpload got shut down, which is exactly what we've assumed before. In fact, there are something like 10,000 different domains hosting pirated content, spread over 5000 separate IP addresses across the internet — you're never going to kill them all.

The researchers from Boston therefore came to the conclusion that regular techniques employed by Big Media are basically worthless, and that the only real way to curb piracy is to follow the money. By stopping pirate sites from taking payments, though things like PayPal, you cut off their funding and they eventually fold. Although the researchers conclude that actually, no matter what you do to try and stop piracy, technology outstretches legislation.

"Given our findings that highlight the difficulties of reducing the supply of pirated content, it appears to be promising to follow a complementary strategy of reducing the demand for pirated content, e.g. by providing legitimate offers that are more attractive to consumers than pirating content."

Common sense one would think, but maybe Big Media will finally get the wake-up call it needs, now that there's some hard statistical research on the matter. Pah, who am I kidding — they'll probably just take away the fact that nuking payment processors is the way to go. [NEU SecLab via Torrent Freak]

Gizmodo UK is gobbling up the news in a different timezone, so check them out if you need another Giz fix.

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    The big media companies have known this for years. Their mind set is basically belligerence, and they will not learn a thing from this.

    I happily pay $11 a month for unlimited music legally. Don't ever pirate music, and it's usually available pretty quickly after release.

    TV? I'd happily do the same, rather than wait 6 months to two years after the show launches to hit our local networks at a time that is inconvenient to watch, and then have ads yelling at me.

      Or even worse put the show on a paid tv channel; and then wait more than a year for a DVD release!

      Things like "John dies at the end" have shown that availability is the scourge of piracy, not brute force.
      If People could rent a new release movie for $15-$10 on the day it is released in cinemas?
      That would solve a lot of it.

        That's a great idea. But wouldn't cinemas freak out if you could hire the DVD instead? Maybe they could have premium DVDs that cost more than the average cinema then get cheaper when the movie has run for a few weeks.

        As for tv shows. If they don't bring it out the same time as it airs in other countries they have to expect piracy (which I don't do). Why the delay?

          They have that already, you need a special unit at home that costs around $25k and the movies cost something like $500 each.

      Spotify is the best thing to ever happen to my music library, pirated just about everything before but for the $11 I'm getting unlimited music and it's introduced me to some of my favourite bands. Big media can make better offers than pirates, they're just to set in stone to think of them most of the time.

        ew spotify. Such terrible quality music. I find it hilarious that even though bandwidth is so cheap and download/upload speeds so much better they still cant put a decent quality file with a decent kbps and khz. MP3 sounds terrible if you have any system above the bare minimum. Find it funny all these people go out and buy 200-500 dollar headphones and yet run them off iphones with like 128kbps mp3s.

          Spotify doesn't even use the MP3 format for starters, and there's this crazy place called settings where you can turn the quality onto 320kbps MP3 equivalent and it sounds fairly excellent.

          Wait.. audiophile right?

          Enjoy your .flac audio files.

            I'm all for lossless formats, as a musician and producer it's fantastic, but as a listener, you're kidding yourself if you think it makes a difference worth considering, people need to stop ragging on streaming services for that little difference in quality.

      What's this $11 a month unlimited music you talk about? Is it any music anywhere? Is it streaming only though or you can download the files? (both combined would be best :D)

        Nevermind...I'm guessing you're talking about Spotify

    Well - at least the last five years of MPAA/RIAA whingeing has raised the profile of online media streaming and torrent downloads. to the advantage of everyone. Now we have multiple choices of media sources, excellent quality, uncapped data plans and ever increasing bandwidth to meet the demand.
    So the corporates did achieve something - just not what they hoped for.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now