The Pirate Bay Is Now Streaming
Feb 10, 2016 5:00 AM PT
The Pirate Bay may be vying to become the world's largest streaming site. It recently began testing a plug-in that turns browsers into torrent-streaming clients.
Having returned from its latest exile, The Pirate Bay now is using the Torrents Time plugin to deliver an illegal answer to Netflix. With the plugin installed on a Mac or PC, users can click the new "Stream It!" button to access a wealth of movies and TV shows without paying a cent to the copyright holders.
Once the plugin has found enough peers, it can stream content without having to buffer -- and peer acquisition takes just seconds.
The plugin, currently in beta, supports Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. It also supports Chromecast, Airplay and DNLA.
Torrents Time has taken a business approach in pushing its plugin, promising to increase engagement, generate revenue and save bandwidth costs. There are no dirty tricks, it promises.
The service is available to any website -- it's not exclusive to The Pirate Bay. Kickass Torrents reportedly plans to use it to advance its own torrent-streaming ambitions.
Whether pirated content is streamed or downloaded, accessing it is illegal in the U.S. and many other countries.
The attraction to pilfered programming is likely a combination of "availability and opportunity," said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics. A pirate site likely will have a more comprehensive list of content than any fee-based site.
"People want content, and they will get it one way or another," Entner told TechNewsWorld, "so it's the job of video sites and content owners to make their product as widely available as possible for a reasonable fee. You will always have a segment that will find ways around it. "
The massive use of pirate sites highlights a need "to make content cheaper and more accessible," said Entner.
Such an approach has worked in the PC sector of the video game industry, where piracy has been muted by cut rate prices and customer-centric services.
With its seasonal sales and no-questions-asked return policy, Valve defied conventional wisdom and found success when it brought its Steam videogame distribution platform to Russia. Valve shook off warnings that it would be overrun by piracy there.
"The vast majority of people want to be honest, and they want a good quid pro quo," said Entner. "If they make it easier, they'll make a lot more money."
A Pirate's Life
They've holed up in bunkers beneath mountains and found sanctuary in the Caribbean. Despite international policing agreements, The Pirate Bay has remained afloat in the roughest of seas.
Money may be one of the motives, but revelations in the trials of detained pirates suggest that ad dollars bring in modest revenue for the groups behind the illegal sites.
Considering the work that goes into maintaining and resurrecting their content hubs, the people behind the pirate sites appear to be far from lazy, and should have relatively little difficulty finding legitimate employment.
The stickiness of online piracy may have something to do with the notion that digitized content should be freely available -- a concept that has been around since the early days of the commercial Internet, remarked Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
"You could argue that it's simply an extension of the Internet's powerful sharing processes that allow information disassociated with physical media to be easily transmitted anywhere in the world for a fraction of a cent," he told TechNewsWorld.
However, "theft of digital content is really no different than stealing a book, magazine, CD or DVD from a bricks-and-mortar store," he pointed out, which makes the owners of The Pirate Bay and the like similar to fences that sell merchandise stolen by local thieves.