Following in the footsteps of the MPAA, the RIAA has submitted its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).
These annual submissions help to guide the U.S. Government’s position toward foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement.
This year the RIAA’s report includes 47 alleged pirate sites in various categories. As in previous years, popular torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent are prominently mentioned.
There’s also a strong focus on so-called “stream-ripping” sites. While these have been around for roughly a decade, the music industry sees them as a growing threat, which is also evidenced by the recent lawsuit against YouTube-MP3.
According to the music group, it is getting harder to target these sites, as they are increasingly taking precautions.
“It is exceedingly difficult to track, enforce against, and accurately associate various notorious websites,” RIAA writes, listing domain hopping, reverse proxy services and anonymous domain name registrations as the main factors.
The Pirate Bay is one of the prime examples of a site that has switched domain names in the past. Due to various enforcement efforts it burnt through more than a dozen domains with ease.
In addition, TPB and other pirate sites are increasingly using the popular CDN CloudFlare. Besides saving costs, it also acts as a reverse proxy and shields the true hosting location from public view.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the RIAA which repeatedly mentions CloudFlare in its report.
“BitTorrent sites, like many other pirate sites, are increasing (sic) turning to Cloudflare because routing their site through Cloudflare obfuscates the IP address of the actual hosting provider, masking the location of the site,” the RIAA writes.
Throughout the report the RIAA attempts to point out the hosting location of all pirate sites, but it often has to put down “obfuscated by Cloudflare” instead.
Aside from making it harder to identify the hosting location, CloudFlare can also make it harder for ISPs to block websites.
Traditionally, some ISPs have blocked pirate sites by IP-address, but this is no longer an option since CloudFlare customers share IPs with other sites, which can lead to overblocking.
“The use of Cloudflare’s services can also act to frustrate site-blocking orders because multiple non-infringing sites may share a Cloudflare IP address with the infringing site,” the RIAA notes in its report.
While CloudFlare itself isn’t tagged as a notorious site, the fact that both the RIAA and MPAA are highlighting the service in their report is not without reason. The industry groups are likely to demand a more proactive anti-piracy policy from CloudFlare in the future.
Apart from all the doom and gloom, there is also a positive development. After being labeled as a notorious pirate site for years, the RIAA has taken social network VK.com off its list. This is the direct result of licensing agreements between the site and various major labels.
“Russia’s vKontakte has now reached licensing agreements with major record companies and has thus been removed from our list,” the RIAA writes.
Finally, it’s worth noting that MP3Skull is no longer on the list. As we suggested yesterday, the RIAA believes that the people behind the site switched their operation to Emp3world.ch. Curiously, this knowledge didn’t prevent them from seizing the domain name of a seemingly unrelated site.
The full list of RIAA’s “notorious” pirate sites can be found below, and the full report is available here (pdf).
BitTorrent Indexing and Tracker Sites
Unlicensed Pay-for-Download Sites