The Motion Picture Association of America has expressed its support for the efforts of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in highlighting over 35 Internet and physical markets that exemplify key challenges in the global struggle against content theft and counterfeiting.
The USTR has released a report – Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets – identifying selected markets, including ones on the Internet, that are reportedly engaged in substantial piracy and counterfeiting, according to information submitted to the Office.
These are marketplaces that have been the subject of enforcement actions or that may merit further investigation for possible IPR infringements. These markets have been selected for inclusion both because they exemplify wider concerns about global trademark counterfeiting and/or copyright piracy, and because their scale and popularity can cause economic harm to U.S. and other IPR rights holders.
According to Michael O’Leary, Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs for the MPAA, the American motion picture and television industry is a major US employer supporting over 2.1 million jobs and nearly $143 billion in annual wages in all 50 states. “For all of the workers in our industry and their families, copyright theft means declining incomes, lost jobs and reduced health and retirement benefits,” he declared.
“The MPAA supports the USTR’s efforts to identify notorious overseas markets and greatly appreciates its interest in protecting the millions of hard-working Americans and the tens of thousands of businesses that rely on a healthy motion picture and television industry for their livelihoods,” he stated.
“Identifying notorious overseas markets is important for fostering legitimate commerce, improving legitimate markets’ viability and competitiveness, and boosting our country’s overall economic strength. The Notorious Markets report has fostered real improvements in the global marketplace, most recently with Taobao making significant progress to address counterfeiting of our members’ content on its site, and we are grateful to USTR for this effort,” he concluded.
“Piracy and counterfeiting, including online sales of pirated and counterfeit goods, is a problem that hurts the US economy, harms some of this nation’s most creative and innovative entrepreneurs and companies and threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle-class American workers,” declared United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “We highlight the notorious markets that have a negative impact on legitimate businesses and industries of all sizes that rely on intellectual property to protect their goods and services,” said Ambassador Kirk. “I applaud the actions that some markets have taken to begin ridding their virtual and physical marketplaces of pirated and counterfeit goods, as well as enforcement actions taken by certain governments that have resulted in the shutdown of several other markets. It is through both voluntary and government actions that we will continue to improve the landscape for IPR owners and companies and their workers here at home that rely on IPR protection.”
This past January, shortly after the release of the previous Notorious Markets Review, the US Department of Justice filed criminal copyright charges against defendants associated with the website MegaUpload, the cyberlocker site that actively promoted the unauthorised distribution of protected content through subscriptions and reward schemes for frequent uploaders. As a result of these actions, several cyberlockers in the past year have changed their business models in ways that reduce or eliminate piracy; others, such as btjunkie, also included in last year’s list, have shut down their operations completely. In addition, the Mexican Government took action to shut down the operations of the previously-listed Bit Torrent Tracker Demonoid. Both Modchip.ca and Consolesource, which were listed for involvement in the marketing of circumvention devices, have also reportedly been shut down before Canada implements its recently enacted Copyright Modernization Act, which includes new provisions against trafficking in circumvention devices. As a result of these actions, these sites are not included in this year’s report.
Notwithstanding the progress made during the past year, there are several markets that continue to operate despite legal rulings or enforcement actions against them. In particular, the vKontakte website continues to operate, via its social media site, a music service that courts in Russia have found to be infringing. And in Ukraine, the website Ex.ua, which offers unauthorised downloading and streaming of various content, was shut down on January 31 by criminal law enforcement authorities, but was back online by February 2. Servers and evidence seized in the raid of Ex.ua’s offices were reportedly returned and the criminal case was reportedly closed in June with no further action. “We urge the Governments of Russia and Ukraine to follow through on ensuring that notorious markets are not allowed to continue infringing operations,” says USTR.
USTR has identified notorious markets in the Special 301 Report since 2006. In 2010, USTR announced that it would begin to publish the Notorious Markets list separately from the Special 301 Report, in order to increase public awareness and guide related trade enforcement actions. USTR published the first stand-alone Notorious Markets list in February 2011, as an Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, and the second such report in December 2011.