Nearly One-Fourth Of Worldwide Net Traffic Linked To Illegal Downloads: Report

Almost a quarter of Internet traffic worldwide (23.8%) involved the distribution of infringing content, and that isn't even counting pornography.

Over 17% of U.S. Internet traffic is estimated to be infringing, with BitTorrent responsible for more than half that total.

That is according to a just-released study from Envisional that was commissioned by NBC Universal, which has been a leading voice against online piracy of intellectual property, including TV and film content.

The study was released in advance of a panel session Monday at the Innovation Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington.

Pornography was not included not because there is not a large market in illegally distributed porn online, but because its infringing status was "difficult to discern."

The study found that BitTorrent traffic, that new NBCU parent Comcast got smacked down by the FCC for blocking, accounted for 17.9% of all Internet traffic worldwide, and that almost two-thirds of that (63.7%) was illegally distributed content including films, TV episodes, music, computer games and software.

The study concluded that video streaming is the fastest-growing area of the Net and accounts for more than a quarter of all traffic. Almost 95% of that is copyrighted content streamed legitimately, but that still left 5.3% illegally distributed, or 1.4% of all Internet traffic.

Envisional calculated the percentages of infringing Internet traffic using 2009 data from Sandvine, Cisco, Arbor Networks, and ipoque.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.