In response to the increased levels of online piracy, which may in part be due to the pandemic, the European Commission wants all countries to block offending websites. They have just released their biannual listing of countries with weak copyright policies.
The commission has named thirteen countries that they believe need to make more effort and take greater action to fight piracy. In doing so, they call on local governments to create and implement a regular practice of site blocking to thwart pirates. The list includes China as the #1 priority. Priority level 2 countries include Russia, India, Indonesia, Ukraine and Turkey. Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Thailand are considered priority level 3.
What Countries Are Missing from the Piracy List?
Despite having rampant online piracy, the U.S. is not included on the EU’s list. Also missing is Vietnam, which has been accused by the U.S. of allowing piracy to flourish in its country. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report ‘Watch List’ revealed that some of the biggest pirate sites in the world operate from Vietnam, offering free TV shows, movies and anime to its users. Despite warnings, the country has done nothing to shutter these services.
COVID and Online Piracy
Experts believe that online piracy skyrocketed in part due to the global pandemic, and the EU maintains that lackadaisical copyright enforcement has allowed illegal piracy, both online and physical, to thrive. They want governments to completely block piracy sites, as was done in Indonesia, which ordered providers to block 3,500 domain names based on suspicions that they were offering pirated content.
Is Site-Blocking the Answer?
Even after being blocked, most of the websites can stay up by using “domain hopping,” which allows them to change domain names to circumvent blocking. One solution is to regularly update blocking lists, but not all EU countries are able to keep pace with pirates.
India Praised for Anti-Piracy Efforts
The country has been commended for its work in blocking online piracy. Despite arguments from free speech advocates, courts in India have told local and national internet service providers to block tens of thousands of suspected piracy sites.
There is much work still to be done to fight online piracy, and it is not yet certain how effective site-blocking campaigns will be in enforcing worldwide copyright laws.