Day in and day out, dozens of new movies and TV shows leak online. This is something most pirates simply take for granted.
Only a few people know who the suppliers are. This secrecy is much needed, as members of release groups risk criminal prosecution and multi-year prison sentences.
The Piracy Supply Chain
When we take a closer look at this supply chain there are broadly two groups. On one side there’s ‘The Scene’, a conglomerate of often intertwined groups that release ‘their’ content on private topsites. Rules and security are key in The Scene, but last year’s raids have shown that it’s not impenetrable.
These Scene releases eventually appear on the wider internet through third parties, but there are also groups that upload their content straight to the public. These are known as P2P groups.
Unlike The Scene, P2P groups don’t have any written rules they have to abide to. They can release whatever and whenever they want. And by doing so, they have stolen some of The Scene’s thunder.
EVO Stands Out
EVO, short for EVOLUTiON is one of these P2P groups. The group has been around for years and has built up quite a reputation. Not only does it provide a steady stream of new movie and TV show releases, it has also leaked many screeners way ahead of their official premieres.
Over the past three years, EVO opened the “screener season” by releasing leaked copies of upcoming films. This included Oscar contenders, but also several Netflix titles that originated from festival screenings.
EVO was also the first to release a high-quality copy of the blockbuster “Dune” a few weeks ago, ahead of its official premiere in the United States.
Needless to say, the group is seen as a major threat by movie industry insiders. There is little doubt that rightsholders are doing everything in their power to track down the group. Thus far, however, without result.
Reaching out to EVO is relatively easy as the group publishes a contact address in its release notes. And while questions are not always answered, the group was willing to explain some of its motivations to us this week.
To begin, EVO wants to counter the suggestion that its work is in any way motivated by money. The group says that “fun” is the main driver instead.
“We don’t get any profit at all from this ‘hobby’. We do it for fun,” EVO informed us, adding that they like to help people.
“We know we are helping lots of people that can’t afford to go to theaters or it’s not even possible due to COVID, since the world is not as we used to know.”
Pointing The Finger at Hollywood
If money plays any role, it’s that pirated movies help the public to keep entertainment affordable. EVO suggests that the increased fragmentation of the streaming landscape, with every service pushing its own exclusive releases, is keeping piracy relevant.
“Maybe, if studios would care a bit more about the consumer, there wouldn’t be much piracy on the internet. But they don’t care anymore, what matters is profit, profit and profit.
“If you are an average person these days, basically, either you are rich or you are fucked. It’s Disney+, its Netflix, its Prime, its Paramount+. God knows what else they come up with,” EVO adds.
The Subscription Dilemma
While EVO was already around before the major subscription boom started, the trend appears to be extra motivation, or justification, for the group to keep going.
Initially, streaming services were seen as the solution to piracy. Making movies and TV-shows available on demand for a fixed price was something pirates have always called for. However, too many subscription offers seem to be counterproductive.
While some people may be able to afford more than a handful of monthly subscriptions, not everyone can. And when services start to demand extra money for “premier” access, it gets even worse.
“You already pay for a subscription and, on top of that, you have to pay to access a movie that you should get for free? And not only that, you have to pay around 30$ for a movie that will come on Disney+ for free in 1-2 months? What’s this?” EVO asks.
These complaints are often heard among pirates. In fact, many pirates also pay for legal streaming services, just not all. In a way, one could argue that the fragmented streaming landscape keeps piracy relevant.
A question remains, however. Why one would take the immense risk of multi-year jail sentences for fun? EVO didn’t go into detail when we addressed the risk part, so that remains unanswered for now.
Update: As noted in the comments, private torrent tracker IPT is widely regarded as the home of EVO. Interestingly, that site makes money through donations.
TorrentFreak specifically asked EVO whether it generates revenue through IPT, which the group denied. We obviously can’t verify any of these claims, nor can we verify comments that suggest the opposite.