RIAA Submits its Own List of “Notorious Markets”

RIAA Submits its Own List of “Notorious Markets”

Music industry follows the lead of the MPAA and submits its own list of the world’s “most notorious markets” to the Deputy Assistant of the Office of the US Trade Representative, Kira Alvarez.

A few days ago I mentioned how the MPAA had submitted a letter to the Office of the US Trade Representative listing what it deems the world’s “most notorious markets,” and now it seems the RIAA has submitted a list of its own.

The USTR is responsible for preparing an annual report to “identify those foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, or deny fair and equitable markets access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property protection, and those foreign countries identified under” this “paragraph that are determined by the Trade Representative to be priority foreign countries.”

By “priority,” it means those foreign countries that are guilty of the “most onerous or egregious acts, policies, or practices that deny adequate and effective intellectual property rights” enforcement.

“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.

The RIAA claims that several of the sites listed “actively encourage and facilitate music theft” and “line the pockets of their operators without paying a cent to creators behind the content.”

Like the MPAA it lists physical notorious markets alongside online physical notorious markets and doesn’t make the distinction between distinction between commercial and noncommercial copyright infringement. Inclusion of Swedish BitTorrent tracker site The Pirate Bay on the same list as La Salada Market in Buenos Aires, Argentina distorts the argument that people are unfairly profiting from the creative works of others.

It’s worth mentioning that the RIAA’s list of notorious markets is quite more extensive than the MPAA’s, listing some 25 sites compared to the MPAA’s mere 12.

  1. BAIDU: China (search engine)
  2. VKontake: Russia (social networking site)
  3. Allofmp3.com clones
  4. The Pirate Bay: Sweden)
  5. RMX4U: Luxembourg
  6. Rapidshare: Germany
  7. IsoHunt: Canada
  8. Filestube.com: Poland
  9. Demonoid: Ukraine
  10. Warez-bb.org: Sweden
  11. Katz.cd: New Zealand
  12. Rlslog.net: Russia (linking site)
  13. Seekasong.com: Vietnam (linking site)
  14. 123musiq.com: India
  15. Ex.ua: Ukraine (cyberlocker)
  16. Sohu/Sogou: China (linking site)
  17. Xunlei: China (linking site)
  18. Torrentz.com: Sweden
  19. BTJunkie.org: Sweden
  20. Blubster: Spain
  21. BaixedeTudo: Brazil (linking site)
  22. Rede Download.com: Brazil (linking site)
  23. Ba-k.com (linking site)
  24. DirectorioWarez:
  25. Tipete.com

The list seems to be mainly comprised of linking sites that host links to copyrighted material stored on cyberlocker sites like RapidShare or FilesTube. The latter, specifically RapidShare, has already been found by German courts to not be liable for the copyright infringing activities of its users, complicating any efforts by the USTR on behalf of the RIAA to convince German authorities of the need for a crackdown on the site.

The Court of Appeals Düsseldorf found that Rapidshare is not liable for the copyright infringement committed by third parties using the service, and that the site itself doesn’t make copyrighted material “publicly available.” Rather, its business is based on providing confidential access to content.

A case against The Pirate Bay for the facilitation of copyright infringement is still winding its way though Swedish courts.

Either way, by listing so many linking sites it would seem that the RIAA is trying to convince the USTR that action is needed to shut them down. However, being that the practice of linking to links is legal here in the US it seems the USTR would have a tough time trying convince other govts to do something that we ourselves believe is a violation of the basic freedom of speech.

“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,” added Turkewitz in the g the submission to USTR.

I always love it when the music industry says “we’d like to innovate – but.” You know the RIAA has never been nor will be “excited about the potential of the Internet and other communication technologies.” Why? Because it can’t control content distribution to the degree it was able to in the past with physical music.

“Regrettably, this potential remains largely unrealized — mired in a morass of piracy,” says Turkewitz. “We hope that this process 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.”

When he speaks of “addressing these markets” it’s really code for pressing countries to enact legislation desired by US-based multinational entertainment conglomerates using inflated piracy figures that even our very own Government Accountability Office believes are inaccurate.

The GAO found the effects of piracy aren’t as simple as lost sales or profits, that counterfeiting and piracy has had a range of effects, some negative, others positive. It cited lost profits and tax revenue as negatives for businesses and govt, but that consumers benefited from increased access and lower costs.

If the RIAA was serious about fighting piracy it would realize that it needs to address the disparate economic realities that exist around the globe. For example, 99 cents for a song on iTunes may not be much for a person living in the US, but for a person in Eastern Europe or China it might as well be 99 dollars.

Perhaps a better approach than trying to change the entire world would be to heed the advice of Rob Dickens, former head of Warner Music in the UK, who proposes a “micro-economy” in which album sale prices are “radically” reduced, the resulting increase in sales volume more than making up for the drop in prices.

Stay tuned.

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