The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, a group of U.S. lawmakers concerned with copyright infringement, has listed The Pirate Bay and five other Web sites as "notorious" file-sharing sites.
In addition to The Pirate Bay of Sweden, the caucus put isoHunt of Canada, Mp3fiesta of Ukraine, Rapidshare of Germany and RMX4U.com of Luxembourg on its Web site list. Also included was large Chinese search engine Baidu.
The sites "provide access to countless unauthorized copies of copyrighted works made by U.S. creators," the caucus said in a press release Wednesday. "Some of these sites are among the most heavily visited Web sites worldwide."
This is the first year that the caucus, formed in 2003, has released a list of notorious sites. The caucus has been releasing an annual watch list of countries it considers weak on copyright protection since 2003. The countries named Wednesday were China, Canada, Russia, Spain and Mexico, the same countries that made the caucus' list in 2009.
"Our nation and our economy is what it is today, because of the ingenuity and ideas of our people -- ideas that have been safeguarded through strong intellectual property rights protections," Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican and caucus member, said in a statement. "Those very ideas are increasingly at risk from piracy and counterfeiting abroad."
Copyright infringement is not a victimless crime, as it is often portrayed, added Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican.
"Piracy denies individuals who have invested in the creation and production of these goods a return on their investment thus reducing the incentive to invest in innovative products and new creative works," he said in a statement. "The end result is the loss of billions of dollars in revenue for the U.S. each year and even greater losses to the U.S. economy in terms of reduced job growth and exports."
IsoHunt, a BitTorrent and peer-to-peer search engine, was sued by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in 2006, and earlier this year, a California court has proposed an injunction that would require the site to filter keyword searches.
"There are many non-infringing uses for BitTorrent technology and we hope you will be able to continue to use isoHunt for these," the site says in a post on its front page.
The Pirate Bay, often called TPB, has long resisted takedown notices sent by copyright holders. When the U.K. record label Gr8pop referenced the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act while asking The Pirate Bay to remove the music of one of its artists, a representative of the site said it follows Swedish law.
"DMCA is an American law," the site's representative wrote to Gr8pop in 2008. "Sweden is not a part of the United States. TPB has no connection to United States and hence does not follow U.S. law."
In April 2009, four operators of The Pirate Bay were found guilty in Swedish court of assisting copyright infringement. That case is on appeal, and the site continues operating.
The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America praised the congressional caucus.
"The release of this report casts a damning spotlight once again on several nations with lax copyright protections and websites that brazenly traffic in copyright theft," Mitch Bainwol, the RIAA's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
"I'm particularly struck by the ... decision to identify significant global Web sites that facilitate massive theft; theft that destroys jobs and cuts short the dreams of creators who find it more difficult to attract the capital they need to build their careers."