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Friday, December 14, 2012
Chinese Websites Removed From "notorious" List

The United States on Thursday removed Chinese web sites including the Alibaba-owned Taobao Marketplace, from its annual list of the world's most "notorious markets" for sales of pirated and counterfeit goods.

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk on Thursday announced the results of the "Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets."

The review lists more than 30 Internet and physical markets that exemplify marketplaces that deal in infringing goods and services, facilitating and sustaining global piracy and counterfeiting.

"Piracy and counterfeiting, including online sales of pirated and counterfeit goods, is a problem that hurts the U.S. economy, harms some of this nation?s most creative and innovative entrepreneurs and companies and threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle-class American workers. We highlight the notorious markets that have a negative impact on legitimate businesses and industries of all sizes that rely on intellectual property to protect their goods and services," said Ambassador Kirk. "I applaud the actions that some markets have taken to begin ridding their virtual and physical marketplaces of pirated and counterfeit goods, as well as enforcement actions taken by certain governments that have resulted in the shutdown of several other markets. It is through both voluntary and government actions that we will continue to improve the landscape for IPR owners and companies and their workers here at home that rely on IPR protection."

Chinese site Taobao, an online shopping site similar to eBay and Amazon that brings together buyers and sellers, has worked with rights holders to significantly decrease the listing of infringing products for sale through its website, and has committed to continue working to streamline its complaint procedures to further reduce listings of counterfeit products.

"We encourage other Chinese online marketplaces to take similar actions to ensure the timely removal of listings for sales of pirated and counterfeit goods on their sites," Kirk said.

Similarly, Chinese website Sogou has been removed from the current list based on reports that it has also made notable efforts to work with rights holders to address the availability of infringing content on its site. In addition, the Philippine Government has taken significant enforcement actions at the Quiapo Shopping District, which has reduced the number of counterfeit and pirated goods available for sale in this marketplace.

This past January, shortly after the release of the previous Notorious Markets Review, the U. S. Department of Justice filed criminal copyright charges against defendants associated with the website MegaUpload. USTR claims that as a result of these actions, several cyberlockers in the past year have changed their business models in ways that reduce or eliminate piracy; others, such as btjunkie, also included in last year's list, have shut down their operations completely.

In addition, the Mexican Government took action to shut down the operations of the previously-listed Bit Torrent Tracker Demonoid. Both and Consolesource, which were listed for involvement in the marketing of circumvention devices, have also reportedly been shut down before Canada implements its recently enacted Copyright Modernization Act, which includes new provisions against trafficking in circumvention devices. As a result of these actions, these sites are not included in this year's report.

However, there are several markets that continue to operate despite legal rulings or enforcement actions against them. In particular, the vKontakte website continues to operate, via its social media site, a music service that courts in Russia have found to be infringing. And in Ukraine, the website, which offers unauthorized downloading and streaming of various content, was shut down on January 31 by criminal law enforcement authorities, but was back online by February 2. Servers and evidence seized in the raid of offices were reportedly returned and the criminal case was reportedly closed in June with no further action.

"We urge the Governments of Russia and Ukraine to follow through on ensuring that notorious markets are not allowed to continue infringing operations," the USTR said.

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