A study by anti-fraud company MarkMonitor has monitored 43 file-sharing websites and found that between them they had 53 billion visits in the last year, according to a report by the BBC.
The top three websites were RapidShare.com, Megavideo.com and Megaupload.com which between them generated more than 21 billion visits.
The study was commissioned by the US Chamber of Commerce to identify trends and rogue websites. Mark Mulligan of research firm Forrester was cautious though, saying that the number of visits did not necessarily equate to the number of downloads.
RapidShare has come under fire from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) which blames the site of carrying huge volumes of pirates content. The website is based in Switzerland though which has made it difficult for US companies to deal with.
The number of hits are very high indeed, but these figures must not be used in an alarmist way, which is what organisations such as the RIAA are bound to do. If you look at the hits for most websites, the majority of those are for the front page only and people do not search any deeper. This, I would imagine, will also be the case for file sharing websites. There will also be indexing taking place that could count as visits.
Thus the actual problem of file-sharing won't be anywhere near as bad as these figures suggest. We can expect the music and movie industries to attempt to pass the full 53 billion figure off as a "good estimate" of how many files are shared every year. We can thus expect more fallout from this research in the coming months.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.