Business News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal

European Commission publishes its latest Piracy Watch List

By | Published on Wednesday 16 December 2020

Piracy / Hacker

The European Commission has published another ‘Counterfeit And Piracy Watch List’, which is basically a European version of the longer established notorious markets report in the US that summarises all the digital platforms that are causing the most bother to copyright owners at the moment.

From a music industry perspective, the most bothersome platforms are the good old fashioned file-sharing set-ups like The Pirate Bay and those pesky stream-ripping sites like Y2mate and Flvto, all of which get name-checked in the EC’s report. Though the unlicensed download service Music Bazaar is also included, proving that – even though the legit download market has been in steep decline for years – illegal download stores are still getting some business.

All that said, more interesting in these reports are the legit internet businesses that get called out for their role in facilitating the copyright infringement of others. These days that usually includes internet services business Cloudflare. However, it no longer appears on the EC’s watch list.

Cloudflare is often criticised by the music industry for providing services to piracy platforms and in particular helping said platforms mask their IP addresses, making piracy operators harder to track down. Music companies would also like Cloudflare to pass on contact information about copyright infringers among its customer base, though the net firm resists such calls except when instructed to do so by a court of law.

However, when preparing this report, EC officials seem to have been happy with Cloudflare’s responses to its critics. “Cloudflare has reported that making generally available certain sensitive information about host IP addresses would jeopardise the protection of their clients’ websites from threats or cyberattacks”, the report notes.

“Cloudflare has also reported”, it adds, “that it takes appropriate steps, through robust abuse reporting system and a ‘trusted reporter’ programme, to ensure that rights-holders have the necessary information to pursue complaints of alleged infringements with the hosting providers and website operators able to act on those complaints”.

However, that’s not to say there are no legit platforms on the watch list accused of enabling piracy. There’s a new section for social media and messaging platforms, and both vKontakte and Telegram are listed in it.

The former used to top the music industry’s piracy gripe list before it reached a settlement with the major record labels and launched a legit music service that is now a key player in the Russian digital music market. However, the movie industry still has plenty of VK gripes.

Meanwhile, music companies have been increasingly critical of Telegram of late, reckoning it doesn’t do enough to remove copyright-infringing material. Confirming that, the boss of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry, Frances Moore, specifically mentioned the addition of Telegram to the watch list when welcoming the new EC piracy report.

“In addition to the many ways that music benefits our lives culturally and emotionally, it contributes €81.9 billion annually to the EU economy and supports two million jobs. This contribution is jeopardised by the digital platforms identified by the Commission”, she said yesterday.

“This year, in addition to identifying several music stream-ripping sites, we are encouraged to see that the report recognises social media platforms as a new category, and that it highlights that companies in this category, such as Telegram, simply must do more to put in place effective measures to prevent large scale copyright infringements on their services”, she added.

“We hope that the watch list will raise awareness of these problematic activities and practices and encourage enforcement action and action by intermediaries to prevent misuse of their services. Such steps are vital to protect content for the benefit of our members, artists and their fans”.

You can access the EC’s useful directory of piracy services – I mean read the EC’s important overview of the copyright infringing platforms that must be stopped – by downloading the new report here.