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Amazon calls inclusion on Notorious Markets list a “desperate stunt”

By | Published on Thursday 21 January 2021


Amazon has issued a statement regarding its recent inclusion in the US Trade Representative’s annual Notorious Markets piracy report for a second year running.

Hoping that the arrival of Joe Biden as US president will see it removed from the list of digital operations that pose a threat to US intellectual property owners, Amazon said its inclusion was “nothing more than a desperate stunt in the final days of [the Trump] administration”.

The annual Notorious Markets report lists operations outside of the US which pose a threat to IP-owning businesses in the States by offering pirated and counterfeit material. It’s designed as a guide for the office of the USTR so that it can put pressure on foreign governments to act against IP-infringing websites and companies based in their respective countries.

Amazon was first included in last year’s edition of the report. The company quickly hit back at that inclusion, claiming that it had only been listed as a result of Donald Trump’s personal vendetta against Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.

Given that the Notorious Market report is focused on piracy operations outside of the US, it is specifically Amazon’s websites in the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy that are listed. That’s based on the allegation that Amazon doesn’t do enough to stop third parties from selling counterfeit goods via its platform.

The new report states that “right holders [have] expressed concern that the seller information displayed by Amazon is often misleading [and] that Amazon does not sufficiently vet sellers on its platforms”. Rightsholders have also complained, it says, that Amazon’s counterfeit removal processes can be “lengthy and burdensome, even for right holders that enrol in Amazon’s brand protection programmes”.

Amazon refutes all this – as it did last year – saying in a new statement issued in the final days of Trump’s presidency: “Amazon does more to fight counterfeit [goods] than any other private entity we are aware of”.

“We’ve proactively blocked more than six billion suspected bad listings before they were published”, a spokesperson continued, “launched industry-leading brand protection tools that enable rights owners to partner with us in driving counterfeits to zero, and worked with law enforcement by referring confirmed counterfeiters for prosecution and sharing intelligence to more effectively stop counterfeits at the border”.

“As a result of these and other efforts”, they claim, “99.9% of pages viewed by customers on Amazon have never had a valid report of counterfeit”.

The sale of counterfeit CDs on Amazon has been a concern for record companies in recent years – with one report in 2016 claiming that as many as 25% of CDs sold on Amazon could be bootlegs. And in August last year, a man was jailed for eighteen months for running a counterfeit CD operation, selling through Amazon and eBay.

As well as Amazon, various other online operations allegedly (and in some cases clearly) involved in music piracy are included on this year’s Notorious Markets list, including stream-ripping sites Flvto, 2conv and MP3juices; file-sharing set-ups NewAlbumReleases, DYTT8, RARBG, Rapidgator and the good old Pirate Bay; and cyberlocker Chomikuj.

VK is also still listed, though these days it’s mainly movie companies that have a problem with the Russian social network, it now operating licensed music services.

Take a peek at the full report here.