'Mulan' vs. Pirates Raises Stakes In Online Piracy

New Disney film used to lure viewers to free sites that may carry different costs to users, experts say.
Posted at 4:22 PM, Sep 03, 2020

The live-action remake of "Mulan," the story of a woman who disguises herself as a man to become a soldier, debuts on Disney+ on Friday. 

While many fans of Disney's take on the Chinese legend will pay the additional fee to purchase the movie, others — those less willing to fork over $30 on top of a subscription — may seek out or come across less legitimate venues to watch the film. 

We're talking about online piracy. But in the age of the so-called streaming wars, the pirates have upped their game. 

Asaf Ashkenazi, content security expert and chief operating officer at Verimatrix: "Now, there are many streaming services that are pirate streamers, but they look legitimate. … They get the content from Netflix, from Disney and it's good quality.

Back in March, digital piracy experts at MUSO found that visits to film piracy sites in the U.S. increased by more than 40% during the coronavirus lockdown. Days after "Tenet" and "New Mutants" opened in theaters, low-quality pirated versions of the films made their way online as well. 

Companies like Warner Bros. and Disney are keenly aware of the pirates trying to steal their content. After Disney+ launched, the company reportedly began hiring more people for its "piracy intelligence team."

We don't know exactly what Disney's anti-piracy initiatives look like, but for viewers considering pirate streaming sites, it's worth pointing out the drawbacks: including the inconvenience of finding these sites in the first place and not knowing if these platforms are secure or if they could share your information. 

Ashkenazi: "If something looks free or too good to be true, then probably it's not. It means that they have to make money somehow, and it could be that they make money out of you." 

For viewers who don't want to pay the added fee on Disney+, the live action remake of "Mulan" will also be available for all subscribers starting in December.