'Avatar' leads the top ten most pirated films of 2010

The Oscar-winning, biggest blockbuster of all-time, Avatar, was also the most pirated film of 2010, according to TorrentFreak. The sci-fi epic was downloaded more than 16.5 million times.

This marks a 33% increase over 2009's most pirated film, Star Trek, which was downloaded less than 11 million times.

Director James Cameron's sci-fi epic, which made close to $2.8 billion at the worldwide box office and the DVD/Blu-ray broke sales records, was shot in 3D, thought to be a safeguard against piracy.

But not only hit movies, like Inception and Iron Man 2, made the list. Kick-Ass, which earned a modest $96 million and The Green Zone which took in $94 million worldwide were downloaded millions of times off torrent websites.

The Hurt Locker, which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but made less than $50 million worldwide, was the ninth most-pirated list. The film's producers are in the process of a lawsuit against thousands of pirates.

Here are the 10 most pirated films of 2010, per TorrentFreak, the blog covering news about BitTorrent, the filesharing protocol for distributing large files:
1. Avatar - 16,580,000 downoads
2. Kick-Ass - 11,400,000 downloads
3. Inception - 9,720,000 downloads
4. Shutter Island - 9,490,000 downloads
5. Iron Man 2 - 8,810,000 downloads
6. Clash of the Titans - 8,040,000 downloads
7. Green Zone - 7,730,000 downloads
8. Sherlock Holmes - 7,160,000 downloads
9. The Hurt Locker - 6,850,000 downloads
10. Salt - 6,700,000 downloads

As part of Operation in Our Sites, the US Justice Department shutdown 83 pirate websites in November, reported TheWrap. The new campaign intended to thwart sales of counterfeit digital goods, including DVDs on Cyber Monday, the big online holiday shopping day.