Warner Bros, like all major studios have been waging wars, [some overseas] to stem the growth of Piracy for some time. Today Paidcontent report [via Cinemablend] that Warner are beginning to take a different approach. At the Content Protection Summit in Los Angeles, Ben Karakunnel, director of business intelligence at Warner's anti-piracy unit, offered a glimpse at the data they’ve assembled over the past 18 months in an effort to quantify illegal consumption online [they tracked P2P and streaming via Compete and Peer Media].

Some of the highlights:

Pirates do spend cash on film: Few subsist on copyright infringement alone; typical pirates steal in addition to making legitimate entertainment purchases like boxoffice, DVD and even online transactions. Even the most diehard pirates spend some money, though less than more casual infringers. “One of the main things we’re doing is looking at why they do things legitimately on certain products and not on others,” said Karakunnel.

Women Stream: While WB data shows most pirates tend to be males 18-24, there’s an interesting anomaly: TV piracy on streaming platforms [as opposed to peer-to-peer] actually skews more female, and they are gobbling up Warner Bros.-produced fare like The CW’s Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries. 

Linking Sites are preferential: WB has studied what are the most popular starting points for piracy, and found in one trial that search engines was less prevalent than just typing in the URLs to one of the growing breed of websites that simply link to illegal content [rather than hosting the content, i.e. cyberlockers]. Even the volume of users who started out looking for legal content but settled for illegal paled in comparison to those who immediately sought out those linking sites, which include Surfthechannel and Sidereel. WB is still examining whether this is a bona fide trend.“It’s an interesting finding that we’re building on because these linking sites have a higher brand awareness,” said Karakunnel, who also noted social media hubs like Facebook are also increasingly being used to disseminate links to illegal content.

Movies are more popular than TV: 65.31% of WB-related downloads on P2P are films, compared with 34.69% for TV. That number may only grow once Jeff Robinov takes control of WB film production given his reported intent to iincrease the number of tentpole movies—always a big draw online—the studio produces each year.

Translating Piracy Overseas: In the international markets, illegal WB content in which pirates dub or subtitle themselves is increasingly popular. For one unspecified program Karakunnel used as an example, it wasn’t until the third day after its initial airdate that one such pirate-created translated version accounted for 23% of pirated files of that particular program. By day 10, it accounted for 74%.

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