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RIAA compiles list of ‘notorious websites’

By | Published on Friday 16 November 2012


Well done to Kickass Torrents, Torrentz, BitSnoop, SumoTorrent, Torrenthound, BTMon, ExtraTorrent, Fenopy, LimeTorrents and TorrentReactor, because all are on this year’s list of ‘notorious websites’ as compiled by the Recording Industry Association Of America, alongside old favourites The Pirate Bay and Iso Hunt.

The list features the websites that the US record industry trade body reckons are particularly big offenders in the online piracy space, most helping people to identify where they can access unlicensed content stored on other users’ computers, some more directly providing access to such files on their own servers. Last year the list also included MegaUpload (shutdown by the US authorities in January), Demonoid (most of which was shutdown by an Interpol-led action in August) and BT Junkie (which voluntarily ceased operating in the wake of the MegaUpload closure).

The list is provided in a letter from the RIAA to the Assistant US Trade Representative for Intellectual Property & Innovation, which has surfaced on this week. The letter notes that there has been some success in stopping particularly prolific copyright infringing websites from operating, saying “We want to take a moment to reflect on the fact that thanks in large part to the efforts of the US government in highlighting illicit practices, some of the notorious markets that we identified in last year’s submission no longer feature in this filing”.

But much more is still to be done, the letter adds. Interestingly the RIAA document admits that many of the websites it lists as being rampant infringers do respond to takedown notices submitted by copyright owners regards specific unlicensed files or links to such content, but because users can and do re-upload any content that is taken down almost immediately, “copyright owners are forced into a endless ‘cat and mouse’ game, which requires considerable resources to be devoted to chasing infringing content, only for that same infringing content to continually reappear”.

The RIAA concludes that “BitTorrent site operators should take proactive measures to stop indexing torrents”. Of course said site owners might argue they are actually operating within current American copyright law, because they operate a takedown system as described in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As previously reported, the RIAA and its counterpart in the movie industry increasingly feel that the requirements of site owners in the DMCA are too weak, allowing BitTorrent and other user-upload sites to operate deliberately shoddy takedown systems, meaning that they have a constant supply of unlicensed content while claiming to be in compliance with American law.

While much of the RIAA’s report is taken up with BitTorrent facilitators, the trade body also lists file-transfer set ups in the MegaUpload model, including RapidShare. Although the Swiss file-transfer platform has had various run ins with the music and content industries over the years over allegations it enables copyright infringement (most court cases have been in Germany, where both sides have had some successes), RapidShare has introduced various measures to try to reduce the use of its platform for distributing unlicensed music and movie files, especially since the shutdown of MegaUpload in the US.

Most recently it announced plans to limit the amount of sharing each user could do each month (in terms of gigabytes), because those who use the platform for legitimate purposes don’t generally use as much capacity as those using it to distribute unlicensed songs and movies. Such actions could almost certainly be said to be “proactive measures” to restrict piracy, though to be fair the RIAA letter dates from before Rapidshare’s more recent anti-piracy initiative.