Recording Industry: Here's a handy guide on best websites for stealing music
In response to an inquiry from the federal government trade czar, the Recording Industry Association of America released Monday a filing itemizing "notorious markets" across the globe.
Notorious markets are physical places and websites "driven by the illegal sales or downloads of unauthorized music."
Unfortunately for them, the filing inadvertently doubles as a primer on the best websites for stealing music. If you didn't know what The Pirate Bay was, you will now thanks to the geniuses at the RIAA.
"This is an important and new opportunity to shine a spotlight on notorious markets and websites that provide unauthorized access to U.S. content," said Neil Turkewitz, EVP, International in the association's statement.
Highlighted in the filing are physical markets in Asia, Europe and Latin America. And, file-sharing websites like The Pirate Bay, Rapidshare, and Isohunt.(via p2pnet)
After the jump, the full filing:
November 4, 2010
Kira Alvarez Stan McCoy Office of the United States Trade Representative 600 17th Street NW Washington, DC 20508 USA
Re: 2010 Special 301 Notorious Markets Review
Ms. Alvarez and Mr. McCoy:
Please find the submission of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in response to the federal register notice in the above-captioned matter. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Our members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.
In both the physical and online environments, there are pirate “destinations” where piracy is both open and notorious, and where consumers go to acquire infringing materials. In both settings, there are businesses who either directly profit from the sale or other distribution of infringing materials, or who profit from facilitating such theft—in many cases through the sale of advertising space. We greatly welcome this Federal Register notice designed to shine light on these businesses. We highlight that being a “notorious pirate market” doesn’t mean that everything that is done in that market is connected with infringement.
For example, there are vendors in Mexico’s Tepito market, or in Argentina’s La Salada, who sell legal merchandise. But the fact that some vendors may be selling legitimate materials doesn’t change the responsibility of the state, or the relevant market owners, to take responsible action. Similarly, many of the online sites that we identify may conduct some legitimate activities, but they fail to address their own conduct in facilitating the theft of intellectual property and therefore deserve to be identified as notorious pirate markets. Some of these sites wear that badge intentionally—see for example The Pirate Bay. Others like Baidu or vKontakte operate network services that include features that intentionally and effectively induce infringement. These services deliberately gain market share by providing access to infringing materials—launching music services without any form of licensing.
RIAA members are excited about the potential of the internet and other communication technologies to provide an efficient means of distribution to music lovers globally. Regrettably, this potential remains largely unrealized—mired in a morass of piracy. We hope that the information provided herein will be helpful in illuminating the practices of some of the worst actors in global markets, and that by addressing these markets, we can take a big step towards creating greater accountability that will expand opportunities for legitimate commerce.
Neil Turkewitz Executive Vice President, Intermational Recording Industry Association of America
La Salada Market - Buenos Aires - Argentina
“La Salada” fair is a huge market located in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, and well known for its diverse pirating activities that include retail sales, wholesale distribution and replication labs. La Salada is made up of four markets – Punta Mogotes, Urkupiña, Ocean (indoor fairs) and La Ribera (open-air fair)– built up on the Riachuelo shore. It is a sprawling area with about over 30,000 stands selling everything from music to bags, and it provides pirate and counterfeit merchandise to retailers and re-sellers from Argentina and neighboring countries.
La Salada is a worldwide emblem of the commerce and production of illegal merchandise. Sold products are mostly illegal copies of European or American brands (as reported by the EC) Nike shoes, Prada bags, Puma jackets, at less than one-fifth their original price. But illegal CD’s are the products consumers most look for when visiting the fair.
This market opens twice a week –on Wednesdays and Sundays– at changing times but mostly at midnight, and is visited by approximately 1 million people each day. The total volume of sales in 2009 amounted to U$D125million, of which around 10% came from counterfeit music CDs and film DVDs.
Even after several illegal music CDR and DVDr raids have been conducted, with 1 million physical formats seized, “La Salada” continues to be the most popular distribution center for pirate music in Argentina, and more robust and continuous government support is needed.
Poland – Border markets with Germany
A market survey was conducted in the summer of 2009 of the ten main Polish border markets situated at major crossing points at the border with Germany. The markets surveyed were located at, Gubin, Halle, Kostrzyn, Leknica, Slubice, Swinoujscie, Szczsecin x 2, Wroclaw and Krakow.
The markets sell a variety of produce from food stuffs to commercial goods and clothing. They are operated by Polish nationals and are primarily aimed at the German tourist market. (The exception to this is the market in Krakow (Market Balice), which is outside the tourist area of the city). Organised coaches visit the markets daily from Germany together with visitors in cars. While brand name luxury goods can be found, without doubt the main infringing articles for sale are music CD’s and DVD’s containing film content.
All the counterfeit music CD’s were on CD-R recordable format and found openly for sale at the markets (in some cases the discs were hidden in a nearby store). The repertoire is primarily a mixture of American and German current titles sold for between five Euros for a single to ten Euros for a double CD. The printing quality of the artwork is average and it is obvious the product is not genuine.
Some of the larger markets, (600 + stalls) were found to have up to fifty vendors’s openly selling music with two to three thousand units on each stall. No legitimate music content was seen on any of the markets.
Police patrol some of the markets and appear to assist with parking on busy days but no enforcement action is apparently undertaken and the product is openly on show.
Intelligence from Polish law enforcement (Border Guards) indicates that the markets are principally operated by organised crime syndicates who control the music, film and counterfeit tobacco sales at each venue.
Tepito There are an estimated 100 million pirate music units in Mexico goes through an estimated 50 thousand sales points around the country. Tepito, located in Mexico City, is by far the single biggest market. It is located in a section of town known as Colonia Morelos and covers an area of approximately 4 square kilometers. Films and music are found in the streets of Matamoros, Aztecas, Eje Uno Norte and Peralvillo Streets. Some estimates put the music pirate activity in Tepito at about 30 percent of all sales in Mexico. The main reason for this high level of sales is that distributors of pirate product of surrounding major cities such as Puebla and Queretaro also come to Tepito for merchandise. They can also find raw materials such as blank CDRs, DVDRs, burners and covers in the same location.
ONLINE NOTORIOUS PIRATE MARKETS
Baidu is a NASDAQ traded Chinese company. Baidu is the Chinese leader in providing search services in China, but by its own admission owes much of its popularity to a dedicated music service in which it assembles deep links to infringing materials. Indeed, few if any of the links provided by Baidu connect the user to legitimate versions of copyright-protected materials. It is undoubtedly one of the largest distributors of infringing music in the world. While the infringing materials may or may not be stored on Baidu’s servers, it is clear that Baidu’s music service is wholly premised on inducing infringement through the provision of access to infringing materials. And its own SEC disclosures highlight the material risk to the company if it is ever held to the same standards related to inducement as those articulated by the US Supreme Court in Grokster. On January 22, 2010, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court decided that Baidu was not liable for copyright infringement. The appeal was heard in October 2010, and the decision is pending.
VKontakte is the most popular online social network in Russia, though it is available to a wider international audience in many languages including English. It currently ranks in the top 40 most visited sites in the world according to alexa.com. VKontakte’s full ownership structure is not publicly known, but Russian internet company Mail.ru has plans to increase its 24.9% holding to 39.9%. The site’s music functionality is specifically designed to enable members to upload music and video files, hundreds of thousands of which contain unlicensed copyright works. It’s dedicated content search engine enables other members to search and instantly stream infringing content, giving VKontakte the edge over other social networks that do not offer free access to unlicensed material. As more members upload infringing content, more new members are attracted to the site, and yet more infringing files are uploaded. With some 93 million registered members the scale of damage to right holders is significant. In addition, third party software developers have distributed apps that enable non-Vkontakte members to search and download the content available on the site. The developer of the Mulve app has been subject to criminal action in the UK, but similar apps remain available and appear not to be blocked by VKontakte, which takes no proactive measures to prevent copyright infringement on its service. Allofmp3.com Clones
After allofmp3.com was taken down, a number of copycat sites have sprung up in Russia and Ukraine to take its place, in many instances apparently under the same or related ownership. These sites, many of which are serviced by major credit card companies such as Visa or MasterCard, claim licenses from known rogue collecting societies who have no authority to issues such licenses. These sites are illegal pay-per-download sites, and are organized to operate in the same fashion as legitimate sites such as iTunes. This is nothing short of direct commercial piracy, and there is no justification for the failure of the Russian and Ukrainian Governments to criminally prosecute the principals behind these sites and the rogue collecting societies with whom the sites operate a continuing criminal conspiracy.
The following music payment sites are hosted in the Russian Federation GoldenMp3 Mp3ninja
The following sites are hosted in Ukraine
The Pirate Bay
Like IsoHunt, The Pirate Bay is also a Bittorrent site with a global scope. The site was previously operated from Sweden, but having obtained criminal convictions against the four founding individuals there in April 2009 (currently on appeal), the individuals thought to be responsible for the operation of the site have left the country. The individuals claim the site is now owned by a company based in the Seychelles although no evidence of a sale has been provided. In October 2009 the Swedish District Court granted a preliminary injunction against two of the site operators, based on the “complicity in copyright infringement” found by the criminal court. The individuals have appealed and the application is still pending against a third individual. In August 2009, an injunction was also obtained in Sweden against an ISP which had provided internet service to The Pirate Bay (also on appeal). Despite the successful litigation to date in Sweden, the site is still active and thought to be the most popular Bittorrent site in the world, with a total count of over 30 million users and the world’s most popular films and music can be instantly downloaded via the service. Rights holders have therefore been turning to ISPs for co-operation and have so far obtained blocking orders through the courts in Denmark, Italy and Ireland (with an unsuccessful application made in Norway), to have ISPs block their subscribers’ access to the site.
Rmx4u.com is hosted in Luxembourg. The site is a forum used by members of the site to share pre-release music content. The majority of the music that is made available on the site is obtained via phishing emails and Trojan files sent to artists/producers and record label employees by the members of the site. Over the past year, the site has been the first place we have found pre-release content for major recording artists.
Rapidshare is a German One-click hosting site that operates from Switzerland but whose main servers are based in Germany. Rapidshare allows anyone to upload files of up to 100MB. The user is then supplied with a unique download URL, which locates the file and enables anyone with whom the uploader shares it to download the file. Rapidshare users post those URL’s on blog sites in an effort to induce those who come to the site to infringe by downloading the file. Many of the files posted to lockers whose URLs are then displayed on blogs are pre-release content. RapidShare is among the 100 most visited sites in the world.
IsoHunt is a Bittorrent site operating out of Vancouver, Canada, with a global scope. With the actions against The Pirate Bay (Sweden) and Mininova (Netherlands), isoHunt in now one of the largest bittorrent site in the world, with millions of users monthly and most of the world’s most popular music and films available for instant download. In December, 2009, a US federal district court found isoHunt liable for massive copyright infringement, finding that isoHunt’s “business model depends on massive infringing use.” The US court cited unrebutted evidence that 95% of the files traded through isoHunt's sites are likely infringing. In May of 2010, the US Court issued an injunction that IsoHunt has thus far ignored. Criminal contempt proceedings have been initiated. In Canada, by contrast, isoHunt sued the rights holders, in order to have the court declare that they're perfectly legal under Canadian law. As the Canadian newspapers said, it's a case of man bites dog. The isoHunt case illustrates how the law is so uncertain in Canada that file-sharing services are suing the rights holders. It's no wonder that Canadian internet users don't know what's right or what's wrong, or that Canada has the highest rate of unauthorized file sharing of any OECD country according to the OECD.
www.filestube.com indexes over 100 million one-click download links for music, film, games, software the vast majority of which is infringing content. Users access the content by conducting searches which display results based on the search term. Due to the large volume of links indexed by the site, there are usually hundreds of copies for each album or song title available via this file-sharing search engine. Industry reports links to the site operator but the speed of the takedowns cannot match the speed at which new links are added.
www.demonoid.com is a private member only site used to share copyrighted material via the Bittorrent file-sharing protocol. Like the other Bittorrent indexing sites (thepiratebay and Isohunt) only the torrent file is hosted on the site. The site has over 300,000 members and there are over million titles (music, films, software and games) being indexed by the site. Over the past four years, the site has been shut down a number of times through cooperation with the hosting companies and when required law enforcement agencies. The current host provider will not remove the site.
The administrator removes torrent links but it can take many days for the links to be removed. On average each torrent is downloaded thousands of times before it is removed and on most occasions if a torrent is removed a new copy is added within hours.
www.warez-bb.org: Swedish domain registrant, Luxembourg ISP
www.warez-bb.org is one of the world’s largest forum sites offering illegal material including music, films, tv shows and software. There are tens of thousands of postings on the site offering the latest pre-release album and back catalogue titles, for the more popular titles there will be multiple postings to ensure users can download the content. The content is stored on one-click download sites like Hotfile.com and Rapidshare.com. The site operators have ‘scripts’ which check the status of the download links, if the links are removed the user is prompted to post new download links. We have on occasions removed multiple copies of the same album as the user has re-posted new links within minutes of the links being taken down.
The site has over 2million registered users and there is a total of 36,000 postings within the music section of the site. The site is currently hosted in Luxembourg and the hosting company refuses to shut down the site.
katz.cd: New Zealand domain registrant, Hong Kong ISP
katz.cd indexes postings from forum sites offering music, film, games, software and e-books. In the music section there are over 40,000 postings including pre-release titles. Users search for a specific title and then click on the matched results which takes the user to the forum site offering the title. This allows over hundreds of thousands of users daily to access a vast network of forum sites from one site, making it more likely they will find the music title they want.
www.rlslog.net : Russian domain registrant, Swedish ISP
www.rlslog.net has thousands of pre-release or recently released music titles available on the site. For each title there are multiple one-click download links known as ‘mirrors’. Having mirror copies of a title ensures that if one link is removed there is still a working download link available. Users will post mirror links which can result in there being tens of copies of the same title available on the site and this can continue for weeks and months after a title was first added to the site. Due to the speed of which content and mirror links are added, this site enables users to download pre-release titles quickly but also request new links if older links have been removed.
www.seekasong.com: Vietnamese domain registrant, US ISP
www.seekasong.com indexes over 98,000 music titles made up of newly released and older ‘popular’ song titles. For most titles there are multiple download links so the total number of links offered by the site is closer to 500,000. The site lists the top 20 charts for the biggest music markets (US, UK, Germany etc), most popular songs and the latest songs added to the site. All these facilities are designed to attract new users and make it easier for users to find new titles. Users can also download a ringtone version of the songs and lyrics all from unauthorised providers.
www.123musiq.com: India (US hosted)
www.123musiq.com is the largest download site for Bollywood repertoire, with other 100,000 album titles indexed by the site. Users can download individual songs or the whole album which is offered in low quality (smaller file size) for users with slow Internet connections (mainly for the local Indian market) and high quality (larger file size) for users that have a fast connection speeds. There are also English, Tamil, Malay and Korean titles available on the site, which helps attract a large volume of traffic.
www.ex.ua is a file-hosting site in Ukraine used to store and share audio, image and video files. Users upload content onto the site which is then indexed for other users to search and download. Users that are members of the site, search for music titles within the audio section of the site and then select the files they want to download.
This is the largest service in Ukraine and the vast majority of the Internet users in Ukraine use the site to download music and film content. None of the content made available on the site has been authorised by the copyright owners and the site operators are unresponsive to takedown notices as a result there are thousands of music titles available on the site.
Sohu/Sogou engages in the business of providing hyperlinks directly to infringing music files situated on third party sites. Through the Sohu/Sogou site, users may by various means find unauthorized copies of sound recordings. Record companies sued Sohu and Sogou on 4 February 2008 at the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court. On 22 Jan 2010, the Court found that Sohu and Sogou were jointly liable for infringement in respect of only a few specific tracks that had not been removed following the right holder notices. However, the judges did not find Sohu and Sogou to have the requisite knowledge to determine whether the linked sound recordings were infringing so that Sohu and Sogou was not generally held liable in respect of its unauthorized music deep-linking service.
Appeals were filed to the Beijing Higher People’s Court against this decision. Sohu/Sogou has also filed cross-appeal. Appeal hearings were conducted on 25 October and 2 November 2010. The appeal decisions for these cases are pending.
Xunlei operates an unauthorized deep-linking service called “Gougou” which is similar to the Baidu and Sogou music deep-linking services. Users can use Gougou to search for deep-links for music files and torrent links. There are Gougou buttons embedded in to the software client that easy access to the deep-linking service. Furthermore, Xunlei provides a software plugin called “Xunlei Ting Ting” to the Xunlei software client. “Xunlei Ting Ting” provides music charts and allows users to stream and or download the music files through this unauthorized service. Legal actions were filed against Xunlei at the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court on 25 June 2009, the Court hearing was held before Shenzhen Intermediate Court on 19 July 2010. The judgments are still pending.
Rather than a conventional Bittorrent indexing site, Torrentz.com is a “meta search engine” (i.e. an aggregator) of over 25 third party Bittorrent sites, including The Pirate Bay and BTJunkie. Independent market research has shown it to be particularly popular in key markets such as the US, UK, Australia and France. The site boasts indexing of over 30 million live torrents across 1,200 live Bittorrent trackers. No details are provided on the site as to the identity of those controlling the service or where it is physically located, but it has been operating on up to four different IP addresses simultaneously, spread across a range of hosting providers, we assume in order to make enforcement action difficult as well as any technical specification benefit derived from hosting the site in this way. The site is currently hosted by Swedish and Dutch ISPs and a letter has recently been sent by right holders to the former, although no response has yet been received.
BTJunkie is a Bittorrent indexing site, akin to The Pirate Bay and Demonoid. Independent market research has shown it to be particularly popular in Italy, Australia and the US. The site does not operate its own tracker but instead utilises the various public trackers available, such as the OpenBittorrent tracker. No details are provided on the site as to the identity of those controlling the service or where it is physically located, although it is currently obtaining internet service from a provider in Sweden. Right holders recently wrote to the Swedish host provider requesting that it terminate the service provided to the site.
Blubster is a music-dedicated P2P service run out of Spain, previously estimated to have up to 200,000 concurrent users. The service was created by Pablo Soto, a young Spanish programmer whose express intention was to create a network for 'sharing' music. A statistical analysis confirmed that the vast majority of music being shared on the service is infringing. Blubster has a decentralised structure and no central indexing server, but it is operated by a group of companies and is not open source. The operators generate income through advertising and through sales of advertising-free client software. The Spanish music industry brought proceedings in April 2008 against the operators of the service. The principal aim of the proceedings was to stop infringement, whether by having the network shut down or otherwise (e.g. filtering), and damages of €13m, based on the estimated extent of infringement, were also claimed. An application for an interim injunction was subsequently made in October 2008, which was heard in December 2008. The judge indicated in November 2009 that he needed one further month to make his decision. In April 2010 the judge was suspended from the judiciary for his delays in delivering decisions and this suspension was lifted in October 2010. No judgment has yet been delivered.
BaixedeTudo - http://baixedetudo.net
Brazilian blog site dedicated to distributing infringing music content. Only available in Portuguese and very popular in Brazil for infringing downloads, estimate more than 1.3 million unique users per month. The site is part of a network called “Web ring” made up of 11 blogs in total offering music and other types of infringing content (films, software etc).
Rede Download - http://rededownload.com
Popular infringing blog offering unauthorized downloads of music, tv series, films, games and e-books. Users are mainly from Brazil – 91% and Portugal 6.5% and the estimation of unique users per month is more than 1.1 million. The content is made available via one-click download sites organized in different sections of the blog.
Ba-k – www.ba-k.com
Forum site with more than 1.4 million registered users, content is posted on multiple one-click download sites to distribute infringing music, tv series and film titles especially pre-release and newly released titles. The majority of the traffic is directed at the music section of the site as this section has more than 55,700 postings. Most of the site is public but to access the premium content (such as pre-release titles) the user must register an account.
DirectorioWarez - http://www.directoriow.com/
One of the largest forum sites offering Latin music titles. The content is made available via one-click download sites and users must register to view the postings. The site provides users with information of the most recent postings and the most viewed postings, ensuring that the more popular titles are accessed and downloaded by the majority of the users on the site. Tipete - http://www.tipete.com Forum site with over 10,000 music titles made up of pre-release and popular album or song titles. The content is posted on one-click download sites and there are multiple copies for the more popular titles. Frequent uploaders are rewarded by the site in the form of free merchandise.