RIAA Reports Torrent Sites, RapidShare and RLSLOG to US Government

Following on the heels of the MPAA's submission to the Office of the US Trade Representative, the RIAA has now submitted its own list of "notorious markets" that promote and facilitate copyright infringement. The RIAA stretches the definition of "rogue websites" by including the meta-search engine Torrentz, China's leading search engine Baidu and Russia's Facebook alternative, VKontakte. The popular release blog RLSLOG and cyberlocker Rapidshare also got a mention.

riaaIn a response to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative, the RIAA has now submitted their list of foreign “notorious markets” that they say promote illegal downloading of music. According to the RIAA, “these rogue websites line the pockets of their operators without paying a cent to creators behind the content.”

Among the “rogue websites” are some interesting and in some case unusual targets. On the top of the RIAA’s list is China’s Google equivalent, the search engine Baidu. This “rogue” search giant is a publicly traded company and was the first Chinese company to be included in the NASDAQ-100, traded on Wall Street. Nevertheless, the RIAA has informed the US Trade Representative that Baidu is likely to be the largest facilitator of illicit music downloading that can be found online.

“Few if any of the links provided by Baidu connect the user to legitimate versions of copyright-protected materials. It is undoubtedly one of the largest distributors of infringing music in the world. While the infringing materials may or may not be stored on Baidu’s servers, it is clear that Baidu’s music service is wholly premised on inducing infringement through the provision of access to infringing materials,” the RIAA writes in the submission.

The RIAA also sees Russia’s Facebook equivalent VKontakte as a “rogue website” because it allows members not only to upload photos, but also music and video files. This functionality was recently used by the Mulve music download download. The RIAA further names the Russian and Ukrainian MP3 stores such as Mp3ninja and MP3fiesta as targets that hurt the United States economy.

But of course, no list of sites that “actively encourage and facilitate music theft” would be complete without the mention of BitTorrent sites. And indeed, no less than five of the leading torrent sites are included by the RIAA (The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, isoHunt, BTjunkie, Demonoid). Interestingly, the meta-search engine Torrentz got a mention from the RIAA, where the MPAA left it out intentionally a few days ago. The descriptions of the five torrent sites as well as the other targets are in the submission below.

RIAA’s letter to the US Trade Representative

The cyberlocker RapidShare is another facilitator and promoter of illicit music downloading if we have to believe the RIAA. The fact that the United States District Court of California ruled that RapidShare is not guilty of copyright infringement earlier this year was conveniently not mentioned by the music association. Also, the many file-hosting services that have outgrown RapidShare in terms of traffic recently didn’t get a mention.

The last target that we want to mention here is RLSLOG, one of the world’s most popular release news sites, which has had its fair share of copyright related issues with hosting companies in the last year. Although the site does not host any copyright infringing material, the site operators and users do often post links to external sites were the files in question can be downloaded. The RIAA describes the site as follows:

“www.rlslog.net has thousands of pre-release or recently released music titles available on the site. For each title there are multiple one-click download links known as ‘mirrors’. Having mirror copies of a title ensures that if one link is removed there is still a working download link available. Users will post mirror links which can result in there being tens of copies of the same title available on the site and this can continue for weeks and months after a title was first added to the site. Due to the speed of which content and mirror links are added, this site enables users to download pre-release titles quickly but also request new links if older links have been removed,” the RIAA writes.

Aside from the “notorious markets” that can be found online, the RIAA’s submission to the US Trade Representative also lists physical piracy threats including the markets on the Polish border with Germany and La Salada Market in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although it is unlikely that the submission will result in any direct action from the US Trade Representative, they will probably be taken into consideration when future policies and governmental actions are discussed.

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