Researchers at George Washington University's Mercatus Center have created a new website that highlights the lack of legal options that are available for the top 10 most pirated movies on the Internet.
The new website, piracydata.org, uses torrent download data obtained from TorrentFreak and then uses other online tools to analyze whether legal options are available for the most pirated movies.
Quite indicatively, at the current time, none of the most downloaded movies are available on legal streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu Plus, and none in the top 4 were available for digital rental. Most were available to buy though, from iTunes and other sources.
Current data on the website shows that over the past 3 weeks, only 20% of titles in the "most pirated top 10" were available for rental, with none available on legal streaming platforms. Only 53% were legally available via purchase, rental or streaming.
Jerry Brito, senior research fellow at Mercatus and one of the people behind the website says that the lack of legal options is exactly why the MPAA is wrong to target search engines like Google, when the movie industry should be doing much more to give consumers what they want.
"When movies are unavailable, illegal sources may be the most relevant search results," says Brito.
"If the movie industry wants to combat piracy, one thing they might want to try is offering consumers the online viewing options that they want. It’s certainly up to the movie studios what business model they choose, and the fact that movies are not available digitally does not excuse piracy. But it also shouldn't be incumbent upon search engines to change what they do in order to prop up another industry’s business model.
"More importantly, Congress should not consider protecting any particular business model.”
The MPAA has attacked the website for using inaccurate data. The MPAA has also in the past dismissed the claim that a lack of legal options makes piracy morally acceptable.
"If a particular film isn't available for stream or purchase at a given moment, however, it does not justify stealing it from the creators and makers who worked hard to make it," the MPAA wrote in a statement provided to The Hill.