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Netflix picks shows based on their popularity with pirates

Netflix has admitted to scouring torrent sites, and offering shows based on what's popular with pirates.

If you can't beat 'em, use 'em. That's Netflix's policy on pirates, one of its execs has admitted.

The on-demand service scours torrent sites to see which shows are popular. It then adds the most downloaded as part of its stable of offerings. The theory? If a lot of people are willing to break the law to watch something, it must be so good the rest of us will be happy to pay for it.

"With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites," vice president of content acquisition Kelly Merryman told Dutch site Tweakers, Variety reports. "Prison Break is exceptionally popular on piracy sites."

Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings doesn't seem worried by the pirates. He told the same site: "Certainly there's some torrenting that goes on, and that's true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand. Netflix is so much easier than torrenting. You don't have to deal with files, you don't have to download them and move them around. You just click and watch."

(Netflix recently launched in the Netherlands, which explains why all these people from the company are talking to the Dutch site.)

Data from Ofcom recently revealed that nearly a quarter of all downloads in the UK are illegal. Film is the most popular medium with pirates, with a third of all movie downloads infringing copyright. 58 per cent of all people using the Internet in the UK have illegally downloaded or streamed at least once in the last year. Yet it's still defined as a "minority activity" with just 2 per cent of pirates accounting for 74 per cent of all the illegal activity.

There was some rare good news for the music industry, though. Online music piracy dropped by a third in the last year. Cel-e-brate good times, come on.

Do you approve of Netflix's methods? Are services like Netflix and Spotify the best way to combat piracy? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.