USTR: 2021 Notorious Markets Report: 42 online and 35 physical markets engage in piracy

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The 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy is the latest in the annual series which is published by the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Also known as the “Notorious Markets List,” the report documents “examples of online and physical markets that reportedly engage in, facilitate, turn a blind eye to, or benefit from substantial piracy or counterfeiting.”

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Some of the largest online providers in China provide platforms for distribution of stolen content and goods online. These include:

  • Baidu Wangpan (pan.baidu.com), operated by Baidu, China’s largest search engine provider, is a cloud storage service.  Rights-holders say that the sharing of links to infringing files hosted there is widespread, including movies and TV series.  Reportedly, Baidu is not consistently responsive to takedown requests and has no piracy detection technology in place
  • WeChat and its China-facing version Weixin, is reportedly viewed as “one of the largest platforms for counterfeit goods in China.”  Account holders can advertise for counterfeit goods via their profile pages and link to them at physical storefront locations
  • AliExpress, owned by Alibaba, is a consumer-facing e-commerce and trans-shipping service operated for wholesalers.  While recognizing that Alibab has strong anti-counterfeiting measures in place, rights-holders are reporting increasing instances of counterfeit goods there.

Other piracy operations found around the world include streaming services, torrent sites, cyberlockers, stream-ripping sites that convert YouTube videos into hosted audio and video downloads, video game cheat sites, ad-funded video hosts and fraudulent ad networks, and hosting operations that are linked by other pirates.

One streaming service, BestBuyIPTV, offers 7,300 TV channels and 9,600 on-demand video titles to resellers and re-streaming` services to over 900,000 users, 12,000 resellers, and 2,000 re-streamers.

A goal of the NML is to motivate appropriate action by the private sector and governments to reduce piracy and counterfeiting.

Positive developments

A Positive Developments section identifies successes stemming from actions by governmental and private entities take in reducing piracy and counterfeiting.  This year’s report recognizes a number of actions by national governments and law enforcement.

These include Brazil’s Operation 404, which has taken down 334 piracy websites and 94 piracy apps, and India’s takedown of the torrent site TamilRockers.  The report documents other successful actions in Germany, Vietnam and Thailand.

The report also documents actions by ACE (The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment), the Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, and the Singapore pay TV and broadband provider StarHub.

Constantly evolving

The report is published annually, and reflects the evolution of piracy and counterfeiting threats that come and go. Some cases appear year after year because the concerns have not been addressed by the owners, operators or by governmental action. Some cases fall from the report because they are no longer active; whether due to an enforcement action, voluntarily, or for other reasons.

Structured process

Each year, the US Trade Representative solicits input through a structured process.  The 2021 Notorious Markets List is the result of the twelfth out-of-cycle review of notorious markets, which USTR initiated on August 30, 2021, through a Federal Register Request for Public Comments. The 85 public submissions this year are available at https://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number USTR-2021-0013.

Inputs were provided by media companies that are victims of copyright infringement, by industry groups, anti-piracy advocacy groups, as well as by some who are accused of infringement.

Download the 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy

Read the press release from the Office of the US Trade Representative

Access earlier years’ releases. 

Why it matters

As described by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the Notorious Markets report “highlights certain online and physical markets because they exemplify global counterfeiting and piracy concerns and because the scale of infringing activity in these markets can cause significant harm to U.S. IP owners, workers, consumers, and the economy.

“The Notorious Markets report first appeared as part of the US Trade Representative’s Special 301 Review in 2006, and as a stand-alone report in 2011.  The Special 301 Review, which is named after Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. §2411); a statutory framework under which the “US imposes sanctions on foreign countries that violate US trade agreements.”

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