According to BitTorrent and Netflix, people prefer to pirate science fictionS

What's the difference between movies that people will pay to rent, and movies that people will risk the wrath of the MPAA to pirate? Apparently, it's all in the genre. Download-obsessed site Torrent Freak researched popular downloads by looking at public BitTorrent trackers. They found that the most popularly-shared movies were science fiction, followed by comedy and action.

According to Torrent Tracker, the top 10 most downloaded movies via BitTorrent are:

1. Avatar (2009)
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
3. Transformers (2007)
4. Inception (2010)
5. The Hangover (2009)
6. Star Trek (2008)
7. Kick-Ass (2010)
8. The Departed (2006)
9. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
10. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

And the movies that people pay to rent? According to Netflix, its top rentals of all time, measured this week, are:

1. The Blind Side (2009)
2. Crash (2004)
3. The Bucket List (2007)
4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
5. The Hurt Locker (2008)
6. The Departed (2006)
7. Sherlock Holmes (2009)
8. Inception (2010)
9. Iron Man (2008)
10. No Country for Old Men (2007)

What you see here is a list of movies that are almost entirely dramas, with some action and suspense. What can we take from this? Are science fiction fans more likely to be skeptical of intellectual property enforcement?

For one thing, it's not clear that what we're seeing represents a breakdown between pirates and renters, since most of the movies on the BitTorrent list were huge blockbusters. Maybe our pirates already shelled out $15 to watch these movies in IMAX or 3D and now feel that they deserve a free digital viewing.

Another possibility is that these lists reflect a divide between the kinds of people who use BitTorrent versus Netflix. It could be that file-sharing is just more futuristic than renting DVDs online.