From U.S. Senator Thom Tillis.

“The shift toward streaming content online has resulted in criminal streaming services illegally distributing copyrighted material that costs the U.S. economy nearly $30 billion every year, and discourages the production of creative content that Americans enjoy”

It certainly makes sense for the government to act against large-scale, commercial, copyright-infrigning streaming services. These estimations of the cost to the U.S. economy that online piracy represents have always struck me as highly dubious, however.

$30 billion per year? For context, that’s roughly equivalent to the combined revenues of Netflix and YouTube for 2019¹. Is there really another Netflix + YouTube sized subscriber base out there that would be willing to pay for these services if only some of the same content weren’t available elsewhere for free?

I doubt it.

In reality I suspect these illegal services are bad for a handful of specific, very large companies, but drastically less so than they would like you to believe. And essentially neutral to the economy as a whole.

1. About $35 billion.