Report: Blocking Websites Not an Effective Way of Combating Piracy


A recent research conducted by Boston’s Northeastern University reveals that blocking websites has no long-term effects on combating the spread or availability of pirated materials. Even if there is an effect, it is only for a short-term. The researchers at the Northeastern University monitored thousands of files across several popular file-hosting websites such as Uploaded, Wupload, RapidShare, and Netload, and discovered that DMCA notices are not very effective in combating online piracy.

“There is a cat-and-mouse game between uploaders and copyright owners, where pirated content is being uploaded by the former and deleted by the latter, and where new One-Click Hosters and direct download sites are appearing while others are being shut down. Currently, this game seems to be in favor of the many pirates who provide far more content than what the copyright owners are taking down,” the researchers wrote.

Having monitored 10,000 domain names and 5,000 IP addresses with pirated content hosted, the researchers came to the conclusion that innovation often beats out legislation when it comes to online piracy.

“Given our findings that highlight the difficulties of reducing the supply of pirated content, it appears to be promising to follow a complementary strategy of reducing the demand for pirated content, e.g., by providing legitimate offers that are more attractive to consumers than pirating content.”

Piracy has always been an issue of concern on the World Wide Web. And the worst part is that it is just like the Streisand Effect phenomena—the more you try to hide something on the Internet, the more people will spread it around. So, no matter how much sites are blocked, the problem surfaces up with high frequency. A prominent example is the when UK High Court forced ISPs to block The Pirate Bay, resulting in a traffic boost of 12 million. Rather, The Pirate Bay used their sudden extra publicity to write up more information on how to bypass blocks—including different domain names, IP addresses, TOR, and VPN services.

“Not only are DMCA notices, blacklists, and other tools that censor or regulate users on the Internet ineffective,” says Kyt Dotson, HackANGLE editor, “they have increasingly become truncheons used by corporations and trolls to make money or bully censorship. Problems with take-down notices, safe harbor, and other elements of anti-copyright legislation have led to issues with the Pirate Bay, the massive debacle with Megaupload (darkening the reputation of the FBI and the USDOJ) as well as automated take-down bots that sometimes hit publicly-held content such as NASA’s Mars Lander footage.”

Back in 2011, when the Protect IP Act came into news, it caused a lot of stir among internet folks, and controversy over digital rights and the methods used to enforce laws and regulations regarding copyrighted content on the web. After all the discussions that went around this act, the conclusion came out that DMCA is not working well. Rather, it incurs a cost to the agencies to send out the DMCA notices.