Following in the footsteps of Hollywood’s MPAA, the RIAA has now submitted its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).
These submissions help to guide the U.S. Government’s position toward foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement. The RIAA’s report (odt) includes more than 50 alleged pirate sites, but it is the introduction that draws most attention.
Neil Turkewitz, RIAA Executive Vice President, informs the Government that some of the rogue websites, and their supporters, falsely argue that they aid freedom of speech and counter censorship.
Specifically, the RIAA describes The Pirate Bay and other pirate sites as an assault on our humanity, suggesting that the right to protect one’s copyrights trumps freedom of expression.
“Some observers continue to suggest that the protection of expression is a form of censorship or restriction on fundamental freedoms, and some pirate sites cloak themselves in the language of freedom to justify themselves—sites like The Pirate Bay…” Turkewitz writes.
“We must end this assault on our humanity and the misappropriation of fundamental human rights. If the protection of expression is itself a restriction on freedom of expression, then we have entered a metaphysical Wonderland that stands logic on its head, and undermines core, shared global values about personhood,” he adds.
The RIAA says it’s hopeful that the piracy threat can be addressed if society and legitimate companies stop doing business with these sites. To do so, the public must stop conflating anti-piracy measures with censorship.
“We may not be able to eradicate piracy—there will always be an isolated number of individuals or enterprises who are prepared to steal whatever they can, but we can—and must—stop providing moral cover by conflating copyright enforcement with censorship, or by misapplying notions of Internet freedom or permissionless innovation so that they extend to an embrace of lawlessness.”
In recent months copyright holders have often hammered on payment processors and advertising networks to stop doing business with pirate sites. The RIAA reiterates this in their USTR submission, but also points a finger at the ISPs, at least indirectly.
According to the RIAA, BitTorrent indexing sites make deals with hosting providers to pay lower fees if they have more traffic. While this is standard business for most ISPs, the industry group frames it as an indirect source of revenue for the pirate sites.
“Indexing services can, and usually do, generate revenue from one or more of the following: advertising, user donations and suspected arrangements with ISPs whereby reduced fees are offered in return for increased traffic on the sites. The particular financial model, structure and approach vary from site to site,” Turkewitz notes.
Finally, the RIAA admits that some torrent sites process DMCA takedown notices, but believes that this is only an attempt to “appear” legitimate. In reality the infringing content is re-uploaded almost instantly, so the problem remains.
“As a result, copyright owners are forced into an 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 report reads.
Without specifying what, Turkewitz notes that torrent site owners have to do more if they really want to become legitimate services.
“It is imperative that BitTorrent site operators take reasonable measures to prevent the distribution of infringing torrents or links and to implement measures that would prevent the indexing of infringing torrents,” he writes.
In addition to torrent sites the submission also lists various cyberlockers, blogs and linking sites which allegedly deserve the label “notorious market.”
Below is the RIAA’s full list as it was reported to the USTR. These, and the other submissions will form the basis of the U.S. Government’s Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, which is expected to come out later this year.
- The Pirate Bay
- Hell Spy