In its yearly “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets”, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) lists a few dozen websites said to be involved in piracy or counterfeiting.
The overview is largely based on input from industry groups including the RIAA and MPAA, who submitted their recommendations late last year.
The USTR stresses that the list isn’t exhaustive, nor is it meant to reflect legal violations. The goal of the review is to motivate owners and foreign Governments to take appropriate action and reduce piracy.
“In the absence of good faith efforts, responsible government authorities should investigate reports of piracy and counterfeiting in these and similar markets and pursue appropriate action against such markets and their owners and operators,” the USTR writes.
This year there appears to be a stronger focus on counterfeiting and offline markets than in previous years. There is also a focus on free trade zones, for example, mostly in relation to counterfeiting. However, pirate sites are also highlighted in the report.
First off, the Government reports that there have been some recent successes on the anti-piracy front. The 123movies websites have been shut down following a criminal investigation in Vietnam and, more recently, the FAB IPTV service was taken offline following a Europol-led raid.
Still, many piracy-related challenges remain. According to the USTR’s report, The Pirate Bay remains one of the primary offenders, despite some significant downtime issues.
“While The Pirate Bay websites have experienced periodic downtime over the past year, right holders continue to report high levels of infringing activities taking place on this platform,” the USTR writes.
“As one of the first BitTorrent indexing websites and one of its most vocal in openly promoting piracy, The Pirate Bay continues to be one of the most frequently visited websites in the world,” the report adds.
Other prominent torrent sites mentioned in the review are RuTorrent and RARBG. Interestingly, 1337x.to, which was included previously, no longer gets a mention.
The USTR has also included the stream ripping sites Flvto.biz and 2Conv.com, which are currently involved in a US court battle with several record labels. Another popular stream ripping site highlighted by the USTR is MP3juices.cc, and the music-related sites Mp3va.com and Newalbumreleases.net also get a mention.
The latest overview of notorious markets further lists a selection of game-related websites. Firestorm-Servers.com and Warmane.com, for example, which host unauthorized World of Warcraft servers with thousands of players.
Another game-related site is Mpgh.net, which offers a wide variety of hacks and cheats.
“Mpgh.net is an example of a site that provides “cheats” and reportedly offers several hundred thousand free cheats to over 4 million users. The site generates revenue through advertisements and by offering premium accounts, and Internet browsers reportedly detect and warn of malicious content on the site,” the USTR writes.
The malware angle is brought up more often by the USTR, which references various reports which found that pirate sites are often linked to the spreading of malicious content.
The USTR report continues with mentions of popular cyberlockers such as Openload, Uploaded, and Rapidgator. Streaming sites and apps such as Fmovies, TVPlus, and TVBrowser also make the list.
The pirate broadcaster BEOUTQ gets a mention as well, as do the academic pirate sources Sci-Hub and LibGen, as well as Russia’s social network VK.com. The latter keeps being mentioned, despite a long list of anti-piracy actions it has taken in recent years.
In addition to individual sites and services, the USTR notes that some hosting providers have also become problematic players. This includes so-called bulletproof hosters such as FlokiNET.
“FlokiNET is an example of the growing problem of hosting providers that do not respond to notices of infringement or warning letters that the provider is hosting and supporting known infringing websites,” USTR writes.
The USTR hopes that by highlighting these problematic sites and companies, their operators or local law enforcement will take action to prevent copyright infringing activity going forward.
A copy of USTR’s 2018 overview of notorious markets (published yesterday) is available here (pdf). The full list of highlighted online sites/service, including those focused on counterfeiting, is as follows:
-Firestorm-Servers.com and Warmane.com
-Flvto.biz and 2Conv.com
-Hosting Concepts B.V.
-Private Layer Hosted Sites (e.g. Torrentz2.eu)
-Rapidgator.net, Rutracker.org, and Seasonvar.eu
-Sci-Hub and LibGen
-TVPlus, TVBrowser, and Kuaikan