Stream-Ripping Is Still a Problem, Says Latest ‘Notorious Markets’ Report

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) welcomed the latest edition of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Notorious Markets Report on Tuesday (Jan. 30), which provides an annual run-down of various forms of copyright infringement, including digital music piracy.

Digital music piracy is not front-of-mind for many listeners in the age of streaming; even the industry itself has focused more of its recent frustration on streaming fraud and the popularity of rain sounds, at least in public comments made in the last year.

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However, global music piracy inched up in 2022, according to a March 2023 report from MUSO, a U.K. technology company, which tracked over 15 billion visits to music piracy sites that year.

The USTR’s new report highlighted a handful of sites — including 1337X, Krakenfiles, Rapidgator and Ssyoutube — where people go to stream or download songs illegally. “Ssyoutube is reportedly the most popular YouTube ripping site globally, with over 343 million visitors just in April 2023,” the USTR noted in one example.

“We appreciate the report’s prioritization of thefts that target the music community such as stream-ripping,” said George York, the RIAA’s senior vp of international policy, in a statement.

Overall, music is less of a concern in this year’s USTR report relative to 2023’s. The document’s primary focus is the “potential health and safety risks posed by counterfeit trademark goods.”

The USTR was heartened by the fact that “this year many e-commerce and social commerce platforms took solid steps toward initiating additional anti-counterfeiting practices and adapting to new circumvention techniques used by counterfeiters.”

“Several platforms filed public submissions outlining their implementation of new anti-counterfeiting tools, including releasing educational campaigns, increasing identity verification requirements, and implementing faster and more transparent notice-and-takedown processes,” the report continued. “Additionally, several platforms have invested in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies as a way to scale up and quickly adapt traditional anti-counterfeiting measures such as text and image screening.”

The RIAA had asked the USTR to highlight another aspect of AI, according to comments submitted in October, though it was not ultimately included in the report.

At the time, the RIAA noted that “the year 2023 saw an eruption of unauthorized AI vocal clone services that infringe not only the rights of the artists whose voices are being cloned but also the rights of those that own the sound recordings in each underlying musical track. This has led to an explosion of unauthorized derivative works of our members’ sound recordings which harm sound recording artists and copyright owners.”

In a statement following the USTR’s latest release, York “urge[d] the organization to take “a close look in the future at emerging piracy challenges presented by AI, including the widespread illegal use of copyrighted sound recordings and artist names, images, and likenesses to generate invasive and unlawful voice clones and deepfakes.”

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