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The Battle Against Copyright Piracy: Insights from the 2023 Notorious Markets List

In an age where innovation and creativity are at the forefront of global competitiveness, the United States is grappling with an issue that undermines its economic interests. The problem in question is commercial-scale copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. The 2023 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy (Notorious Markets List, or NML) sheds light on this pressing issue, highlighting the most egregious offenders in online and physical marketplaces.


Understanding the Notorious Markets List (NML)


The NML is a tool that plays a crucial role in identifying important players and locations involved in the trade of pirated and counterfeit goods. It is important to note that the NML does not list all markets worldwide engaged in intellectual property (IP) infringement.

Instead, it provides a snapshot of significant examples where such activities are widespread. The aim is to encourage action from both the private sector and governments to curb these illegal activities. Additionally, the NML does not make legal judgments but offers insights into the IP protection and enforcement landscape, complementing the broader analysis provided in the annual Special 301 Report.


Success Stories and Persistent Challenges


Despite the often bleak picture, there have been successes in the fight against piracy and counterfeiting. For instance, as first reported by The Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), the Indonesian government's crackdown on illegal streaming sites, coupled with the rise of affordable legitimate streaming services, has significantly altered consumer behaviour in the country. This shift demonstrates the potential for effective enforcement and market solutions to combat piracy.


However, challenges remain. The NML identifies several online markets, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, that continue to facilitate access to pirated and counterfeit goods. From piracy-as-a-service platforms like 2EMBED, which bounced back even after being shut down, to offshore hosting providers like Amarutu that ignore takedown requests, the landscape is rife with entities that exploit legal and technological loopholes to continue their illicit activities.


Spotlight on Online Piracy


The NML's findings underscore the APAC region's critical role in the online piracy ecosystem. Many of the online markets identified in the report have strong operational or registration ties to APAC countries, such as Vietnam, China, and India.

For instance:


  • 2EMBED: Originally shut down in July 2023, this pirate content management system quickly resurfaced with new domains. Operating from Vietnam, 2EMBED exemplifies the "piracy-as-a-service" model, enabling and simplifying the creation and operation of piracy sites globally. Its resilience in the face of enforcement actions highlights the challenges of combating online piracy rooted in the APAC region.

  • AMARUTU: Serving as a so-called "bulletproof" hosting provider, Amarutu caters to some of the largest piracy sites, ignoring takedown requests and advertising its services clearly disregarding copyright laws. Though claiming an address in Hong Kong and having data centres in both Hong Kong and the Netherlands, Amarutu is registered in Seychelles, showcasing the complex international networks that support online piracy operations.

  • ANIWATCH: This site, known for offering pirated anime content, reportedly operates from Vietnam, using reverse proxy services to obscure its hosting location. The rebranding of into shows the adaptable nature of online piracy networks distributing popular content in APAC markets.

  • BESTBUYIPTV: Highlighting the emerging threat of illicit IPTV services, BestBuyIPTV offers over 10,000 unauthorised channels from around the world, including significant content aimed at APAC audiences. With links to Vietnam but using technology to mask its operations, it represents a growing segment of online piracy that transcends traditional boundaries and poses unique challenges to rights holders.

  • VEGAMOVIES: As one of India's most visited piracy streaming sites, Vegamovies exemplifies the significant demand for both international and domestic pirated content in the APAC region. Its operation, characterised by frequent domain changes and reliance on cyberlockers, underscores the sophisticated evasion tactics deployed by piracy sites to operate within and beyond the APAC region.


In Conclusion


The 2023 Notorious Markets List underscores the ongoing battle against copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. While there are success stories that demonstrate progress, the persistence of notorious markets calls for enhanced global cooperation and innovative strategies to protect intellectual property rights. As the digital landscape evolves, so too must the efforts to safeguard the cornerstones of creativity and innovation that drive economic growth and consumer safety.

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