RIAA's Annual List of 'Notorious' Copyright Offenders Includes Stream-Rippers, Telegram

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The RIAA’s recommendations for this year’s “Notorious Markets List” has a lot of familiar names and themes as in previous years, with stream-ripping sites, rogue MP3 marketplaces and counterfeit CD manufacturers feeling the heat yet again from the recording industry trade org. The issue of piracy inside otherwise legitimate mobile apps, such as Telegram, is also raised in this year’s letter.

The "Notorious Markets List" is produced annually by the United States Trade Representative’s office. Each year, the RIAA submits a letter and a detailed list of bad actors that it believes “threaten our industry’s recovery and jeopardize the U.S. competitive advantage in digital trade," according to  George York, the org’s svp of international policy. "This infringing activity creates distortions in the marketplace that undermine the music industry prosperity, which in turn negatively impacts the U.S. trade surplus."

The RIAA says it is currently monitoring more than 200 active stream-ripping websites, which allow users to create and download mp3 files from song streams on YouTube or SoundCloud. Earlier this year, it successfully helped force one major offender, DBR.ee, offline. The organization also wants the “Notorious” list to pay special attention to unlicensed pay-for-download sites, cyberlockers, BitTorrent sites and MP3 search engines.

Here are the sites submitted by the RIAA:

--Stream-Ripping Sites (+ amount of visits in past year): Mp3juices (over 1.3 billion); Ytmp3 (1.2 billion); MP3-YouTube (700 million); Y2mate (775 million); Converto (90 million); FLVTO & 2Conv (1.7 billion combined).

--MP3 Search and Download Sites (+ visits): Newalbumreleases (64 million); Rnbxclusive (8.4 million); Leakthis (7.4 million); Xclusivejams (5 million).  

--BitTorrent Indexing Sites (+ visits): ThePirateBay (686 million); Rarbg (1.5 billion); 1337x (710 million); Torrentz2 (547 million); Limetorrents (202 million); Seedpper (16.83 million).

--Cyberlockers (+ visits): Hitfile (32.4 million); Turbobit (327 million); Rapidgator (313 million); Zippyshare (1.2 billion); Chomikuj (300 million); Dbree (7.4 million); Uploaded (3230 million); Nitroflare (106.3 million); Share-online (72.7 million); Filecrypt (141.7 million).

--Unlicensed Pay for Download Sites (+ visits): Mp3va (8.7 million); Mp3fiesta (1.4 million); Music-bazaar (1.865 million).

Under a section titled "Additional Issues," the RIAA specifically calls out popular messaging app Telegram, which it believes is not doing enough to prevent and/or remove copyrighted recordings from being easily shared by its users.

"Telegram offers many user-created channels which are dedicated to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted recordings, with some channels focused on particular genres or artists,” the org writes. “Telegram itself hosts many of the copyrighted recordings made available through these channels and the RIAA has sent DMCA notices to Telegram containing over 18,000 instances of copyrighted recordings offered without authorization through these channels. Telegram claims that it forwards our notices to the channel operators."

It adds, "Telegram claims that it forwards our notices to the channel operators who are responsible for removing the infringements listed in our notices. We have found, however, that most channel operators appear to take no action in response to our notices, with nearly all of infringements listed in our notices remaining available. Likewise, Telegram makes no apparent attempt to verify that channel operators have complied with our notices and does not seem to have any kind of repeat infringement policy."

The submission also includes a section flagging long-standing problems in the physical markets, namely the manufacture and sale of counterfeit CDs and vinyl out of Russia and China. The RIAA says that while its own experts can easily spot fakes, most casual observers are being fooled either online or at brick-and-mortar stores. Some counterfeiters are printing vinyl versions of albums that have never been released in that format, the organization says.

“The outside packaging copies pull tabs, security seals, and shrink-wrap, while the insert booklets will mirror the legitimate versions of the product, printed on high-grade commercial printing machinery. In addition to straight-up counterfeit copies of legitimate album releases, we have also seen a rise in the manufacture of compilation ‘Best of’ and “Greatest Hits” albums that were never released by the record labels. Finally, we are finding vinyl versions of albums released only in CD format (i.e., that were never released on vinyl)."

The RIAA calls on all e-commerce outlets to pre-screen sellers to ensure they have legitimate product. "Amazon has initiated such a program, but the other major platforms have not. Each of these platforms has established processes by which counterfeit offerings can be reported and removed; however, there appears to be inconsistent action against repeat infringers."


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