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What just happened? The European Commission has called out several countries that have either weak copyright enforcement or have not been doing enough to combat piracy. As part of its biannual list of foreign countries with lackadaisical copyright policies, the organization singled out thirteen nations for their insufficient actions against piracy, and called on their governments to implement an effective site-blocking regime to reduce the menace. Interestingly, the U.S. was nowhere to be found on the list despite being a hotbed of piracy-related activities.
The thirteen countries in the EC's crosshairs are headed by China (via TorrentFreak), which was singled out as the biggest concern. India, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine are listed as priority level 2, while Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand come in at level 3.
The EU, however, left out Vietnam from its list, despite the U.S. accusing the country of dragging its feet on the issue and allowing several pirate sites to operate freely from its territory. According to the United States Trade Representative's Special 301 Report 'Watch List,' some of the world's largest pirate sites operate from the country and serve up free movies, TV shows, and anime. The U.S. has accused Vietnam of not doing anything to shut down these services, despite repeated warnings.
Online piracy has been on the rise, and is believed to have been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic in recent years. The European Commission believes that the illegal activities thrive largely due to ineffective copyright enforcement to combat both physical and online piracy. To effectively tackle the problem, the organization wants countries to block piracy sites en masse. As an example of a step in the right direction, the EC highlighted how Indonesia ordered local Internet providers to block more than 3,500 domain names suspected of peddling pirated content.
However, site-blocking may not be the silver bullet against online piracy, as most of these services continue to operate by indulging in a practice known as 'domain hopping,' which involves changing over to new domain names to escape blockades. Some EU countries are tackling this by regularly updating their blocking orders, but others are failing to keep up with the pirates in this never-ending game of digital whack-a-mole.
The report, however, praises India for its efforts in blocking online piracy. In recent years, courts in the country have directed local and national ISPs to block tens of thousands of alleged piracy sites despite serious concerns from free speech advocates over the arbitrary manner of these orders. Either way, a lot still remains to be done to combat online piracy, and it remains to be seen how successful site-blocking efforts will be in enforcing copyright laws around the world.