With new streamers constantly launching and lockdowns changing watching patterns, film and TV piracy is mounting a comeback. Can anything be done?

In the 2000s, I arrived at university to vast libraries, thousands of strangers and the riches of academic life – plus a gigabit broadband connection that would be used on downloading pirated versions of every piece of entertainment ever made. In between essays, I watched classic movies, listened to vast discographies, and binged the entire run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That particular choice might mark this story out as one that belongs firmly in the past, but piracy itself is far from dead.

We are living in a golden age of streaming. Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ are pumping out award-winning shows. Britain’s public service broadcasters have more box sets than you can consume in a lifetime. If you have a niche interest, someone is streaming it for you somewhere: Sony’s Crunchyroll for anime fans, BFI Player for film buffs, Sky’s History Play for those who really like ancient aliens. And even before the pandemic forced film studios to experiment with simultaneous cinema and home releases, we had access to more films and shows than any other point in history.

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