If you’re one of the poor unfortunate souls missing out on the release of “The Mandalorian” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” (yes, that’s the actual title), let’s get real for a second—you probably have them torrented already.
Last Nov. 12, the streaming service Disney+ launched the treasured archives of the Walt Disney Company, ranging from classics like “Snow White” to old school DCOM faves like “The Even Stevens Movie.” The latest video on-demand rivaling Netflix was released in selected countries, including the US, Canada, and the Netherlands. This week, Disney+ will add three nations to its roster with Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico, while Western Europe is set for a release on Mar. 31, 2020. For us in countries yet to be blessed by the Mouse, we’ll have to sit back and wait. In the meantime, the Philippines has the alternative DisneyLife app to satiate some of our needs—but for those who want the Disney+ exclusive goods, online piracy is making a comeback.
In recent years, on-demand services such as Netflix and Spotify turned into heroes against bootlegs, causing major downturns on online piracy cases. A study from the EU reported that from 2016 to 2019, users aged 15 to 24 who download illegal content dropped from 25 percent to 21 percent. Pageviews in torrenting websites fell significantly from 2017’s 206 million to 2018’s 190 billion. However, with the increase of streaming sites, people are opting to cherrypick the shows they wish to watch, instead of subscribing to the dozens of sites popping out. On the other hand, streaming services such as Disney+ aren’t accessible due to regional restrictions. Enter: the return of torrent.
According to Vice, torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay noticed an increase in downloads for Disney+ series such as “The Mandalorian,” ranking as the most popularly downloaded show with thousands of seeders. “If people have to spend more money to satisfy their movie and TV consumption needs, a large group will either consume less or look for alternatives,” TorrentFreak owner Ernesto van der Sar tells Vice. “A likely result is that more people will pirate on site.”
Takedowns for torrent sites are a long ongoing battle, but they show no signs of stopping soon. After 15 years online, The Pirate Bay has made it a badge of honor, calling themselves “the most resilient BitTorrent site in the galaxy.” Individual users have geared up with their armor too, through virtual private networks (VPNs) that shield their IP addresses from prying eyes.
Just as what the 2000s PSA you watched on a VCD said, piracy’s still illegal, despite the widespread usage of torrenting sites. But with streaming services ending up more and more like cable, the return of piracy isn’t much of a surprise. As for those doomed by regional restrictions, we’ll be here waiting for Mickey to descend from the skies, a Disney+ subscription on hand. Sigh.
Still from “Peter Pan”