BRUSSELS, Belgium (CelebrityAccess) — The European Union has struck its latest blow against pirates and copyright infringers with the publishing of the Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List.
The list publicizes websites and physical marketplaces outside the EU that are reported to engage in, facilitate, or benefit from the piracy of intellectual property.
The Watch List has four focus areas: websites providing copyright-protected content, e-commerce platforms, online pharmacies as well as physical marketplaces. A specific chapter is devoted to online pharmacies in order to highlight the growing problem of fake medicines sold on the internet and the health risks to citizens.
The list is the result of the input received during a public comment process in which respondents reported online and physical markets where infringing behavior took place, with a particular focus on the digital world.
According to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the OECD, trade in counterfeit and pirated products amounts annually to around €338 billion worldwide. The European Union is particularly affected, with counterfeit and pirated products amounting up to around 5% of all imports or as much as €85 billion a year.
The list takes a page from the US Notorious Markets List, which similarly identifies marketplaces dealing in infringing goods and services in a bid to deter copyright violations. In 2017, the U.S. list included 25 online markets and 18 physical markets which it said were engaging in substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.
The EU’s list focused on a number of different technologies that facilitate infringement:
Cyberlockers – a type of cloud storage system that allows users to store and retrieve digital files. Rogue cyberlockers incentivize their users to upload popular files to their servers. These
uploaded files are then downloaded or streamed by other users. Cyberlockers generate a unique URL link (or sometimes several URL links) to access the uploaded file enabling users to download or stream the content.
Stream Ripping Websites – Websites or applications that allow a user to convert a legal or quasi-legal content stream such as music on YouTube or Netflix into a local file that can then be re-shared. A modern version of taping songs off the radio.
Linking or referrer websites – these websites aggregate links to content that is stored on other websites, such as cyberlockers (see above). The content in linking or referrer sites is organized by title, album, genre and season. The users are provided with detailed information on the content and can use it download or stream copyrighted material.
Peer-to-peer/Torrent services – these are services that allow users to search and download content from other users connected to the same network via a BitTorrent client.
Other sites the EU identified as problematic include Popcorn Time, a website for downloading piracy tools and several hosting services, including the U.S.-based CloudFlare, which the list identified as being used by approximately 40% of the pirate websites in the world.
The list also targeted several advertising networks and e-commerce platforms, including Toronto-based WWWPromoter, and South Korea’s popular Amazon-like Naver.com.
The EU indicates that it plans to update the list every two years, but it appears to have little in the way of teeth behind it. According to the EU, the list will be used in cooperation with their trading partners, particularly in China, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. The Commission will monitor measures and actions taken against entities that make the list by local authorities.
A partial list of the sites the EU identified in its list.
Uploaded.net (ul.to, uploaded.to)
Sci-hub.tw/#about and Library Genesis Group
Stream ripping services