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EU Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List

The Watch List reflects the results of stakeholder consultations. It presents examples of reported marketplaces or service providers whose operators or owners are allegedly resident outside the EU and which reportedly engage in, facilitate or benefit from counterfeiting and piracy. The aim is to encourage the operators and owners as well as the responsible local enforcement authorities and governments to take the necessary actions and measures to reduce the availability of IPR infringing goods or services on these markets.

The Watch List also intends to raise consumer awareness concerning the environmental, product safety and other risks of purchasing from potentially problematic marketplaces. The Watch List focuses on online marketplaces as piracy and the distribution of counterfeits increasingly take place through the internet. The Watch List is not an exhaustive list of the reported marketplaces and service providers and does not purport to make findings of legal violations. Nor does it provide the Commission services’ analysis of the state of protection and enforcement of IPR in the countries connected with the listed marketplaces and service providers.

All selected marketplaces are located outside the EU. Online marketplaces are considered to be located outside the EU for the purposes of this Watch List if their operator or owner is known or assumed to be resident outside the EU, irrespective of the residence of the domain name registry, the registrar, the residence of the hosting provider or the targeted country. As regards physical marketplaces, the market is considered located outside the EU if it is physically located in the territory of a third country irrespective of the citizenship or residence of its landlord. The selection of the marketplaces to be included in the Watch List was undertaken between 18 June and 20 July 2018. Consequently the information included in the report reflects the situation during this period.

The main criteria for the selection of both online and physical marketplaces to be included in the Watch List are their reported widespread global or regional popularity and high volume of sales. In order to identify websites that are popular globally or regionally, Alexa and SimilarWeb web popularity ranks and Google’s Transparency Reports for copyright related websites were used. Both the marketplaces that are visited from the EU and those that are visited only from third countries but harm EU rightholders and trade with these countries were taken into account.

Marketplaces were grouped on the basis of the business model and type of technology they use to distribute goods and services. Service providers facilitating IPR infringements were categorised on the basis of the nature of service they provide to facilitate the distribution of goods and services (i.e. hosting provider, advertising agency, domain name registrar). The chapters and sections in the Watch List reflect the different marketplace and service provider types.

More than 70 responses were received through the public consultation, covering both online and physical marketplaces located in more than 20 countries. On online marketplaces, more responses were received from the creative industries than from brand owners. The creative industries and associations fighting piracy focused almost entirely on websites and have not requested to list physical marketplaces. Cyberlockers, peer-to-peer networks and BitTorrent indexing websites received the most reports, followed by stream-ripping and linking sites as well as unlicensed pay-per-download sites. The creative industries expressed grave concerns about the role of certain hosting providers, registries, registrars and ad-networks in facilitating online piracy.

Broadcasting organisations and their trade associations reported mainly streaming and linking websites which make available allegedly pirated audiovisual content (i.e. films, TV programmes and sport events). A particular concern for this industry is the illegal streaming of live sport events. This constitutes a particular challenge for the enforcement authorities as such illegal streaming sites should be blocked at the time of the sport event. Besides, broadcasting organisations raised concerns about some e-commerce platforms which offer for sale allegedly illegal IPTV set-top-boxes and IPTV subscriptions.