Apple TV+ Is Supposedly Struggling to Keep Digital Piracy Under Control

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Photo: Justin Sullivan / Staff (Getty Images) – The streamer, which has only been around since 2019, is presently racing to have takedown orders for stolen internet material issued as quickly as possible. While it’s no secret that Apple executives sit in their sierra blue ivory tower counting their guilders as the world’s most lucrative business, Apple TV+, the firm’s streaming arm, is still relatively young and has yet to experience the same spectacular returns as other sections of the company.

That might explain why, according to a recent study, the firm is struggling to tackle the rising levels of online piracy that have grown up around its more popular streaming services.

After all, piracy is big business, with the top five torrent sites raking in an average of $18.3 million in digital ad income and sponsorships each year, according to a recent analysis by the Digital Citizens Alliance.

Apple TV+ originals are among the most popular items presently filling torrent sites, according to MacRumors, with as many as 2,000 seed files accessible to actively watch on most of the main pirate sites. On the upper end of the scale, each of Apple TV+’s most popular titles on some websites can have up to 125,000 “seeders”—open torrent URLs available for internet users to open or download themselves.

While download patterns vary per website, “The Morning Show,” “SEE,” and “Ted Lasso,” the latter of which recently garnered a record-breaking seven Emmy nominations for a rookie comedy, are now the uncontested kings of piracy.

Monitoring the unlawful distribution of movies and TV series using third-party enforcement partners to detect stolen content is typical practice among major streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. Although Apple has recently joined the bandwagon by collaborating with digital copyright protection firms Corsearch Inc. and OpSec Security to issue DMCA takedown requests for stolen content, their efforts are falling short of the pirates’ own efforts.

While Corsearch has issued over 320,000 DMCA orders to Google citing copyright infringement for Apple TV+ content, according to MacRumors, such requests don’t actually help to mitigate against the actual hosting of pirated content—they simply prevent Google from indexing the flagged sites, making them harder to find via a standard Google search.

Companies must issue those same DMCA orders to the actual websites hosting the pirated content themselves in order to ensure that the content is removed—a process that can quickly become unmanageable, especially since big piracy sites tend to serve as mere aggregators for content that is cleverly hosted elsewhere, making it difficult to track down the root source.

Torrent sites are continuing filling their content offers with Apple TV+ content, despite the fact that 91.2 percent of Apple’s takedown requests were successfully actioned, according to MacRumors. These efforts do not appear to have been “seriously hampered” by Apple’s legal threats. Apple may be the king of profits, but when it comes to dealing with the murky realm of pirated material, it’s just another mortal—much like the majority of its streaming competitors.