This week the office of the U.S. Trade Representative published an updated report outlining the most controversial websites currently operating around the world.
The “Notorious Markets” list isn’t designed to explicitly point out law-breaking or assert the government’s stance in other countries, clarified the USTR, but if a site is on it, it’s been previously investigated for copyright infringement.
Veteran pirates will instantly recognize most of the list (.pdf), which the USTR broke down into categories for different infringement methods. For virgin file-sharers, however, it could unwittingly serve as a springboard to find an illegal copy of “X-men: First Class.”
The Pirate Bay lead the popular indexing model, along with IsoHunt, torrentz and Btjunkie. Demonoid stood out in the BitTorrent tracking section. Russia’s answer to Facebook, VKonkakte, was the lone social networking site noted by the USTR for potential violations. Chinese search engine Gougou and its music-finding offshoot Sogou MP3 were classified as “deep linkers” that send traffic to illicit third-party sites.
Kim Schmitz’s Megaupload also made the list. The multifaceted site was involved in a legal kerfuffle last week after Universal Music Group pulled, then reinstated a YouTube music video featuring well-known musicians including Will.i.am celebrating the service.
In a statement to the press, RIAA Executive Vice President Neil Turkewitz thanked the USTR for its work and urged the listed sites to rethink their business strategies:
This report shines a spotlight on the unsavory practices of some of the globe’s most notorious bad actors. It highlights sites that employ a variety of different means to profit from the theft of music, but in the end, they all rest upon the same untenable proposition – that stealing the creative work of others is acceptable. Some sites like the pay-per-download sites in Russia charge directly for the distribution of illegal music. Others use unlicensed copyrighted works to draw users in order to sell advertising, while others offer infringing music to attract users and build market share. Regardless of whether sites actually host infringing materials or operate to direct traffic to infringing materials, it is long past time for these services, and the countries in which they are located, to take immediate steps to stop the massive theft accomplished by and through these services.
Michael O’Leary, MPAA senior executive vice president for global policy and external affairs, also chimed in.
“The American motion picture and television industry is a major U.S. employer supporting over 2.2 million jobs and nearly $137 billion in annual wages in all 50 states,” said O’Leary. “The notorious overseas markets highlighted in today’s report are a direct threat to the millions of hard-working Americans and the tens of thousands of businesses that rely on it for their livelihoods.”
O’Leary added that the list serves as a stark reminder that Congress needs to act on the pending anti-piracy bills, PROTECT IP and SOPA. A vote on the latter has been pushed back until 2012.