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Europe Puts International Stream Rippers and MP3 Pirates on Notice With Inaugural 'Watch List'

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Think stream ripping and MP3 pirates are a dying breed now with the rise of legal streaming? Not so fast, as the European Commission today publishes its inaugural list of non-EU websites and firms that they deem responsible for lingering piracy and counterfeiting abuse of European products, including music.

Dubbed the "Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List," the list is meant to nudge law enforcement authorities into action and to encourage ISPs and other intermediaries to undertake measures to prevent such misuse of their services.

“Music has value that must be protected, and we welcome this step by the EU on behalf of music creators," commented IFPI chief Frances Moore. "For our part, record companies are coordinating global enforcement action to tackle copyright infringement, however, the illegal sites named in the list employ a deliberately complex, multi-jurisdictional and often anonymous set-up of their operations, which allows the operators to hide their identity and location."

Included in the list are several sites relevant to music, most notably the stream ripping services H2converter.com and Downloadvids.net, which both convert and download content from audio and video streaming platforms. According to the report, H2c had 312 million visits between April 2017 and March 2018, while DV had traffic of 107 million visits during that time frame.

Unlicensed MP3 marketplaces MP3va.com and Mp3caprice.com were also included on the EU list. "Even though these sites have the look and feel of legitimate download services with the official cover art, they are reportedly not licensed to use the content they offer," the EU writes, adding that MP3va had 156 million visits and Mp3caprice 27.6 million visits between April 2017 and March 2018. Both sites claim to have a copyright license from the Ukrainian collecting society AVTOR, which "reportedly has no mandate to represent foreign rightholders."

Several cyberlockers made the list, including Uploaded.net and Openload45, as well as the website aggregator Rnbxclusive.review69, which indexes copies of copyright-protected content, mainly music, including also pre-releases.

According to the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the OECD, trade in counterfeit and pirated products amounts annually to around €338 billion ($385 billion) worldwide.

"The Commission’s Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List offers important and practical guidance for policymakers, law enforcement and international corporations, when identifying and dealing with websites that infringe intellectual property rights," Moore added. "The list helps to raise awareness of several sites exploiting music content and particularly highlights the continued existence of so-called ‘stream ripping’ sites that make unauthorised permanent copies of streamed content, predominantly from YouTube."

See the full list here.