Enforcing Global Anti-Piracy Regulation
Almost a quarter of all internet traffic now infringes global anti-piracy laws, a study conducted by envisional recently found.
Determining if internet traffic infringes regulations has inherent challenges built in, not least due to the constant expansion and updating of information published on the web, but the study claims the estimate is more accurate than any ever produced before.
The negative effects this traffic has on businesses and the wider economy are perhaps even more difficult to quantify.
Globally the levels of anti-piracy regulation vary, with China regularly being named among the worst offenders. Many believe if these levels of infringement are to be dealt with partnerships between public and private organisations and multinational authorities are needed.
Of the 23.76 percent of internet traffic which was said to be infringing, some 17.9 percent was BitTorrent traffic. Two-thirds of this related to the sharing of films, TV, music, computer games and software.
Google is among the private sector enterprises taking steps to clamp down on this type of traffic. In December 2010 it announced it would be implementing a number of measures designed to make it harder for internet users to access pirated content through its services.
Terms which are deemed to be "closely related to piracy" are no longer finished on auto-complete and reports have since suggested this initiative has now been applied to a number of phrases including BitTorrent, torrent, utorrent, RapidShare, and Megaupload.
It also pledged to take down pages relating to "reliable" copyrighting requests within 24-hours, and improve its AdSense anti-piracy review.
"As the web grows, and the number of requests grows with it, we are working to develop new ways to better address the underlying problem," Google said.
Blocking entire BitTorrent sites would be the next step in preventing users accessing infringing content, however regulatory authorities in some countries have so far been unwilling to do this.
UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt recently announced he was instructing Ofcom to review sections of the Digital Economy Act to determine whether rules which would allow courts to block sites which infringe copyright would work.
"Before we consider introducing site-blocking we need to know whether these measures are possible," Hunt said.
Under the Digital Economy Act an injunction could be sought against a site from which a "substantial amount" of copyrighted material could be obtained, a site where such material is made available to the public, or a site which facilitates access to either of the previous locations.
In the global fight against anti-piracy, it is China which is often named as one of the worst for protecting online intellectual property rights.
The Chinese commerce minister has admitted, under pressure from European Union and United States companies, it could improve in the area.
Ted Dean, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said: "Despite improvement, inconsistent and ineffective IPR enforcement is still a serious concern for our members," and called for the issue to be addressed in collaboration with other bodies.
It could be the views of businesses, however, that leads China to clamp down on copyright infringement.
Software giant Microsoft is among those which claim the poor intellectual property protection in China will dissuade it from investing resources in the country, saying instead it will be focussing on India and Indonesia.
"Something like 15 to 20 percent of the world's computers will get bought in China. China will represent for Microsoft probably about 1 percent or something of our revenue," chief executive Steve Ballmer said.
"We're trying to do our best to collaborate with industry, to collaborate with Chinese companies, collaborate with the government, so that people understand and appreciate the value of proper protection of intellectual property," he added.
One of the key concerns surrounding Chinese anti-piracy efforts, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), is "the lack of effective and consistent interpretation of Article 23 of the Internet Regulations."
The regulations are theoretically said to stop websites from promoting copyright infringement, but the IIPA says this has not stopped sites such as Baidu, which provides links to infringing materials operating.
Efforts in China to create a new Supreme People's Court Judicial Interpretation to clarify the liability of ISPs in relation to online infringement were praised, but many believe there is little chance of China's piracy problems being dealt with any time soon.