Fastest growing segment of piracy? Live TV

A chart from the report “The six business models for copyright infringement.” Click to expand.

A new Google (s GOOG) study entitled “The six business models for copyright infringement,” just released with the UK’s PRS (Performing Right Society) for Music, finds that live TV is the fastest-growing segment of copyright infringement. (To see the others, click on the image at right.) Global pageviews of live TV sites were up 61 percent for the year ending May 2012.

Live TV sites link to illegal streams of network and paid TV. The study looked at 51 live TV sites — it doesn’t mention any of them by name, but a couple of popular ones are and, which feature a mixture of legal and illegal content — and found that a third of them are based in the United States.

Two-thirds of the sites are funded by advertisers, and “compared to the other segments Live TV Gateway has very high levels of direct access and referrals from social networks.” Live TV sites are more likely than the other business models to have mobile sites and social network presence “in the form of a social networking ‘action’ icon, for example Facebook ‘like’ buttons, Twitter ‘tweet’ button or similar.”

P2P sites still get the most visitors

Researchers looked at 29 P2P sites; again, while they are not mentioned by name, the largest gets 2.1 million unique UK visitors per month (compared to 1.1 million unique UK visitors at the most popular live TV site). The UK-based study didn’t track monthly U.S. visitors by site, but did look at global page views across categories, using data provided by Google.

P2P sites are the most dependent on advertising of any of the business models looked at: 86 percent of them are funded by advertising.

Overall, “both Live TV Gateway and P2P Community sites, the two largest  and fastest growing segments, tended to link to content on other sites or services rather than host the content,” the researchers found.

To fight piracy, “follow the money”

Theo Bertram, Google’s UK policy manager, said in a statement:

Our research shows there are many different business models for online infringement which can be tackled if we work together. The evidence suggests that one of the most effective ways to do this is to follow the money, targeting the advertisers who choose to make money from these sites and working with payment providers to ensure they know where their services are being used.

The research was conducted by BAE Systems Detica, and you can view the full report here.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Mehmet Dilsiz