Piracy accounts for almost a quarter of internet traffic worldwide, a new study has found.
The research, carried out by research firm Envisional for NBC Universal, found that 23.8 percent of internet traffic involved 'digital theft', with BitTorrent accounting for almost half.
Infringing cyberlocker sites accounted for 5.1 percent, and infringing video streaming sites accounted for 1.4 percent of global traffic. The rest came from other peer-to-peer networks and file sharing arenas.
"Bottom line, according to this new study, nearly one-quarter of the traffic on the Internet involves the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material such as movies, TV shows, music and video games," says Bob Pisano, president and interim CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
"Whether you call it piracy, digital theft, illegal downloading or unauthorized streaming, it’s stealing the creative work of others."
The survey also looked at the top 10,000 peer-to-peer swarms - as measured by the number of active downloaders or 'leechers' on the PublicBT tracker - and found that 99.24 percent of the non-pornographic material was copyrighted material.
"Our society would not tolerate a situation where one-quarter of all the traffic in and out of the bakeries, butcher shops and grocery stores involved stolen merchandise, and we cannot tolerate the vast explosion of digital theft on the Internet," says Pisano.
"With download speeds and server capacity increasing every day, the problem will only get worse if we don’t do something about it. The time for governments and industries to act is now."