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 copyright industry groups, including the RIAA and MPA, that submitted their recommendations late last year.
According to USTR, the annual overview aims to motivate the private sector and foreign governments to reduce piracy. To that end, the list identifies sites and services that reportedly engage in, facilitate, turn a blind eye to, or benefit from piracy or counterfeiting.
These targets traditionally include popular piracy portals such as well-known torrent sites and streaming portals. However, in recent years we have also seen hosting companies, advertisers, and e-commerce platforms being added.
Torrent Sites, Cyberlockers and Streaming Portals
This year’s overview is a mixed bag again. As expected, the USTR mentions torrent sites such as RARBG, RuTracker, The Pirate Bay, and 1337x. The same is true for the torrent-based streaming application Popcorn Time, which was decimated recently.
Interestingly, USTR writes that an individual who operated a Popcorn Time app in Denmark was sentenced to probation in Denmark recently. However, that’s not completely accurate, as the person in question didn’t create the app, but merely linked to it.
Regular streaming sites are also on the list of notorious markets with Fmovies and Cuevana as prime examples, while cyberlockers 1Fichier and Uploaded also secured their spots. In addition, video hosting service 2embed also made it onto the list for the first time.
Music, Games, Books, and Science
The music industry nominated several stream-rippers as notorious markets and FLVTO.biz, 2Conv.com, and MP3Juices.cc are included this year. The same applies to the music download platform Newalbumreleases.net, which shares new and pre-release music.
Game companies are particularly concerned with cheats. Mpgh.net, which reportedly offers several hundred thousand free cheats to over four million users, made it into the latest overview.
“The rise of unauthorized digital goods and cheat software negatively affects video game companies and consumers by unfairly altering game play for legitimate consumers, while also diverting significant revenue away from video game developers and publishers,” USTR writes.
On the publishing side, Sci-Hub and Libgen are seen as two of the greatest piracy threats. The latter focuses on academic articles while the former also offers a broader selection of books, comics, audiobooks, and magazines.
In recent years IPTV services and dedicated piracy boxes have continued to grow in popularity and several have made it into the NML this year. These include BestbuyIPTV.store, iStar and Spider
The Iraqi-based IPTV services Chaloos and Shabakaty are mentioned as well. As we reported recently, the latter is reportedly operated by Iraq’s largest internet provider, which is also mentioned by the USTR.
“EarthLink Telecommunications, an Iraqi company and the largest Internet service provider in Iraq, is reported to host a pirate IPTV service, mobile app, and website called Shabakaty and offers this service to the subscribers of its Internet service for no additional charge,” USTR writes.
Hosting, Advertising, and Shopping
Aside from sites and services that are directly linked to piracy, the USTR also calls out several third-party intermediaries including hosting companies and advertising services.
BlueAngelHost, for example, is called out for describing itself as a “DMCA Ignored” hosting provider while FlokiNET reportedly fails to cooperate with copyright holders and law enforcement.
On the advertising front, RevenueHits is seen as a bad actor as it’s reportedly one of the most popular advertising networks among pirate sites.
Finally, the NML (Notorious Markets List) also includes several online services that are linked to the sale of counterfeit goods. These include billion-dollar businesses such as AliExpress, Shopee, Bukalapak, and Pinduoduo.
The above is merely a selection of all the digital notorious markets and a full overview of all the included sites and services is available below.
A common critique on the NML is that it’s mostly based on complaints from rightsholders. The USTR itself doesn’t verify these claims in detail, despite the strong implications the report may have.
“The NML does not make findings of legal violations nor does it reflect the U.S. Government’s analysis of the general IP protection and enforcement climate in the countries connected with the listed markets,” USTR clarifies.
This year, several companies have objected to a potential listing and some did so with success.
Advertising companies PropellerAds and PopAds successfully submitted a rebuttal after being nominated by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), pointing out that they have several anti-piracy measures and policies in place.
Similarly, the .IS and .TO domain name registries also countered the MPA’s allegations that they facilitate piracy. Neither of them is included in the USTR’s final list of notorious markets.
A copy of USTR’s 2021 overview of notorious markets (published yesterday) is available here (pdf). The full list of highlighted online sites/services, including those focused on counterfeiting, is as follows:
-Flvto.biz and 2Conv.com