While it’s no secret that Apple executives sit up in their
sierra blue ivory tower and count their guilders as the most profitable company in the world, the company’s streaming arm, Apple TV+, is relatively new and has yet to see the same staggering returns other parts of the company have long enjoyed. That’s maybe why, according to a recent report, the company is having a tough time combating the increasing levels of online piracy that have cropped up around its increasingly popular streaming offerings.
Piracy, after all, is a booming business, and one recent report from the Digital Citizens Alliance suggested that the top five torrent sites each currently pull in an average of $18.3 million in digital ad revenue and sponsorships each year.
According to information compiled by MacRumors, Apple TV+ originals are among the most popular offerings currently populating torrent sites, with as many as 2,000 seed files available to actively stream on most of the major piracy sites. On the higher end of the spectrum, that number can extend all the way up to 125,000 “seeders”—open torrent links available for internet users to open or download themselves—for each of Apple TV+’s most popular titles on certain websites. While download trends differ across websites, the Apple TV+ titles that are the undisputed kings of piracy are currently “The Morning Show,” “SEE” and “Ted Lasso,” the last of which recently received a record-breaking seven Emmy awards after receiving the most nominations for a freshman comedy in the award show’s history.
Among popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, monitoring the illegal dissemination of movies and TV shows by relying on third-party enforcement partners to flag stolen content is common practice. And although Apple has jumped on the bandwagon in recent months by partnering with digital copyright protection firms Corsearch Inc. and OpSec Security to issue DMCA takedown orders for stolen content, those efforts are proving no match for the purveyors of pirated content themselves.
According to MacRumors, while Corsearch has issued more than 320,000 DMCA orders to Google, citing copyright infringement for Apple TV+ content, such requests don’t actually help to mitigate against the actual hosting of pirated content—they just sort of prevent Google from indexing the flagged sites, thereby making them harder to find via a standard Google search. In order to actually ensure that the content itself is removed, companies need to issue those same DMCA orders to the actual websites hosting the pirated content themselves—a process that can quickly become unmanageable, particularly since big piracy sites tend to serve as mere aggregators for content that is cleverly hosted elsewhere, making it harder to track down the root source.
At the end of the day, although MacRumors found that 91.2 percent of Apple’s takedown requests had been successfully actioned, torrent sites are still packing their content offerings with Apple TV+ content—efforts which do not seem to have been “significantly impeded” by Apple’s legal threats.
Apple may be the king of profitability, but when it comes to dealing with the slippery world of pirated content, it turns out that it’s just another mere mortal—like most of its rivals in the streaming sector.