In its quest to combat online piracy, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) keeps a close eye on the latest and greatest piracy threats.
The organization, which represents the major Hollywood studios and Netflix, calls out the most problematic foreign sites and services in its “notorious markets” submission to the USTR each year.
The latest filing came in a few days ago. According to the movie industry group, piracy as a whole is the single largest threat to its members.
“The criminals who profit from the most notorious markets threaten the very heart of our industry and in so doing, threaten the livelihoods of the people who give it life.
“These markets are an immediate threat to legitimate commerce, impairing legitimate markets’ viability and curbing U.S. competitiveness,” MPA notes.
The Usual Suspects
The latest MPA report provides a detailed overview of the piracy landscape. It mentions many of the usual targets which have been previously reported. This includes torrent sites, streaming portals, IPTV services, cyberlockers, and piracy apps.
The Pirate Bay gets a prominent mention and the same is true for other torrent sites such as YTS and RARBG. Other familiar names are Uploaded, Fmovies, CDA.pl, Cuevana3, BS.to and Egy.best.
The MPA notes that its overview is not exhaustive. For the torrent site category, for example, the focus lies on “high quality” sites and those that offer recently released content.
Traditionally the notorious markets submissions show a lot of overlap with previous years. However, the MPA has a notable new addition.
“This year, for the first time, our filing includes ‘Piracy-as-a-Service’ as a new category of notorious markets,” MPA writes, adding that these services illustrate “the scale, sophistication, and profitability of modern online commercial copyright infringement.”
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a quite common term nowadays, but Piracy-as-a-Service (PaaS) is new to us. It refers to tools and services that make it easy for prospective pirates to set up and operate a piracy operation.
“PaaS offerings constitute a suite of off-the-shelf services that make it easy for would-be pirates to create, operate, and monetize a fully functioning pirate operation. PaaS providers lower the barriers to entry into commercial piracy,” MPA clarifies.
While this threat category is new, these “PaaS” sites and services have been around for years or even decades.
According to the MPA, the category includes streaming site templates, content management systems that provide access to pirated content, IPTV dashboards, bulletproof hosting providers, and video hosting services that hide infringing links, and more.
In its submission, MPA highlights several of these PaaS offerings including the XFileSharing scripts, domain registrar Njalla, the IPTV Smarters management suite, and the video embedding service Fembed.com.
Multi-Billion Dollar Targets
It’s clear that the ‘Notorious Markets’ label isn’t limited to shady businesses and anonymous operations. Publicly traded companies such as Mail.ru, VK.com, and Baidu are also flagged as problematic.
Baidu is the dominant search engine in China and, according to the MPA, it should do more to make sure that piracy-related content is harder to find. In addition, its cloud hosting service Baidu Pan should deploy filtering technology and remove infringing content more swiftly.
“Baidu should apply rigorous filtering technology to identify infringing content, to take more effective action to suspend or terminate repeat infringers,” MPA notes.
The instant messaging platform Telegram also gets a prominent mention as the takedown tools and efficiency of the service are lacking in MPA’s view.
Registries, Advertisers, and Hosting Providers
The MPA’s submission also mentions domain registries, including those that manage the .IS, .To, and .TV. domains. These cTLD’s are commonly used by pirate sites.
Like many other registries, including those that are based in the US, these organizations typically don’t take action against domain owners without a court order. According to the MPA they should.
“A registry, directly or via its contractual relationship with its registrars, has the ability to withdraw or disable domain names used by websites engaged in massive copyright infringement,” MPA writes.
Finally, the MPA also highlights the problematic role advertisers, advertising agencies, and hosting companies can play. These include AdsKeeper, Propeller Ads, 1XBET, BlueAngelHost, Ddos-Guard, and many others.
The MPA’s full overview lists dozens of sites and services that facilitate piracy, profit from it, or both. By calling these out the MPA hopes that the U.S. will encourage foreign governments to take action.
A list of all sites and services that are highlighted and categorized in MPA’s notorious markets submission (pdf) can be found below
Linking and Streaming Websites
– Dytt8.net, Dy2018.com, Dygod.net, and Ygdy8.com
Direct Download Cyberlockers and Streaming Video Hosting Services
– Baidu Pan
Illegal IPTV Services
– BIPTV.best and BestBuyIPTV.store
– SatCon Africa
Piracy Devices and Apps
– PopcornTime.one (Kids)
– SVI Cloud
– Unblock Tech (unblocktech.com)
Peer-to-Peer Networks & BitTorrent Portals
– Gimmepeers.com (formally Bitsoup.org)
– .CH Registry
– .IS Registry
– .RU Registry
– .TO Registry
– .TV Registry
Ad Networks and Online Advertisers
– PopAds and PopCash
– Propeller Ads
– IPTV Smarters