In a response to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the MPAA has submitted a new list of “notorious markets” they say promote illegal distribution of movies and TV-shows.
The filing is particularly interesting since U.S. lawmakers have this week introduced a bill in the House that aims to neutralize these sites. The MPAA has been one of the most vocal proponents of the bill and the group is expected to call for action against the websites when it passes.
“The rogue overseas marketplaces highlighted in today’s filing are a direct threat to our community and the millions of hard-working Americans that rely on it for their livelihoods,” the MPAA writes in a statement.
“The MPAA commends and greatly appreciates the USTR’s recognition of the damage inflicted by these illicit markets on US global competitiveness and we applaud their work to protect American jobs.”
In their filing the MPAA lists a variety of websites, which they have organized in various categories. In addition to the location where the sites in question are hosted, the MPAA has also provided a short description for each of the sites.
Torrent and P2P Sites
The MPAA’s first category includes all the major torrent sites, which the group claims are facilitating mass copyright infringement. Also in this list is the Chinese BitTorrent-based application Xunlei, which is partly owned by Google.
File-hosting and streaming sites
The second category includes several file-hosting and streaming sites, but also the Russian Facebook equivalent VKontakte. The social networking site hosts a wide variety of music and video files uploaded by users. The MPAA describes VKontakte as a purposefully created hotbed of piracy.
“This result stems from the combination of site specific user upload and search functionality – including torrent functionality – designed to facilitate easy hosting and access to popular media files, together with the lack of any affirmative efforts by the sites’ operators to prevent copyright infringement,” they write.
The third group covers so-called linking websites. These organize links to copyrighted material which can be streamed or downloaded from third-party sites. On the top of the list is Video2k.tv, a site that sprung up when the popular German-based linking site Kino.to was raided earlier this year.
The MPAA concludes their list of rogue websites with Usenet, but lists only one provider.
“This worldwide collection of servers is known as the Usenet, a high-speed direct download service offering access to a searchable global file exchange network. Today, illegal copies of movies and television shows are commonly posted in newsgroups for download by users around the world,” they write in their filing.
One notable absentee from the list is RapidShare. The file-hosting service was included in the MPAA submission last year but was left out this time, although nothing has changed in its business setup. This could be a strategic decision as RapidShare itself has hired lobbyists to represent their interest in Washington recently.
The problem with the MPAA’s submission is that it’s not clear what distinguishes a “rogue” from a legitimate site. Until there are distinct and quantifiable characteristics this means that thousands of sites could fall under this label, and have their businesses ruined if the U.S. Government decides to intervene.
TorrentFreak asked the MPAA whether they could give a clear description of a rogue site, but they chose not to reply. The sites above can only hope that judges will see through the MPAA’s subjective definition when they have to review a domain seizure request or ISP blockade in the future.