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ESA: 54% Of Illegal Game Fileshares Come From Five Watch-List Nations
ESA: 54% Of Illegal Game Fileshares Come From Five Watch-List Nations
February 15, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander

February 15, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Italy, Spain, China, Brazil and France are key problem zones when it comes to online game piracy, says the U.S.-based trade group Entertainment Software Association.

The ESA points to a "Special 301" report that's been filed with the U.S. Trade Representative by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which seeks to help the government combat copyright infringement issues worldwide.

The ESA is a member of the IIPA, which recommended that the U.S. Trade Representative include 33 countries on a watchlist of nations that aren't taking adequate measures to address copyright infringement, or that don't provide sufficient channels for content creators to bring their work to market legally.

According to the ESA, peer-to-peer sharing is a primary conduit enabling "extraordinarily high" levels of online game piracy in Italy, China, Spain, Brazil and France. 54 percent of infringing game sharing worldwide in 2010 can be sourced to P2P activity in those five nations, says the trade body.

ESA member companies reported more than 144 million connections involved in unauthorized peer-to-peer game file sharing, says the trade body. The top five countries of concern accounted for 78 million of these -- more than five times the number attributed to U.S. users, the group adds.

Devices like flashcarts that make it easier to copy data or play copied games also contribute and are still too widely available, despite recent crackdowns, the ESA adds.

"Our industry continues to grow in the U.S., but epidemic levels of online piracy stunt sales and growth in a number of countries, including Italy, China, Spain, Brazil and France, where we see crushing volumes of infringing peer-to-peer activity involving leading game titles," says ESA president and CEO Michael Gallagher.

Along with the rest of the IIPA, the ESA is recommending that the USTR -- which has the ability to impose trade sanctions on certain nations, pending an investigation period -- place Spain on a "Priority Watch List". The group says that "lax policies" in Spain "have fostered a culture permissive of piracy."

The USTR established the Priority Watch List in May of 2010, identifying 11 countries including Canada and China as areas of particular concern. There is also a "Watch List" for less immediate infringement problems; previously on the Watch List, the group is now urging a step up to Priority for Spain.

Other nations, like Brazil, will remain on the regular Watch List, as the group believes new administrators in the region are addressing the areas of concern in the nation's IP protection methods. According to the report, Brazil's market barriers mean that legitimate purchases are often priced out of the reach of most consumers, and as such Brazil is fourth on "overall volume of detections" worldwide.

Italy also remains on the Watch List: "The Italian government appears to recognize the gravity of the problem and has launched an official consultation to examine potential remedies," says the group. Meanwhile, Canada and China remain on the Priority list.

"Game publishers lose opportunities for export sales, and the U.S. loses opportunities to expand our export economy, and consumers in those countries lose local benefits of having a thriving game market," Gallagher says.

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Tom Baird
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"The top five countries of concern accounted for 78 million of these -- more than five times the number attributed to U.S. users, the group adds."

Ok, this statement right here is designed to confuse the issue for people. That just means that the U.S. is below the average of the 5 worst offenders, something that 2 countries listed there would be already, and something that is already obvious because it's not on the list. It can't be too far below the top 5 if that's the best claim they can make. In fact, looking at their wording, the U.S. could be within the Top 5 and just not be considered a 'country of concern'.

Being over 5 times less than 5 countries combined means nothing more than you being below the average for those countries.

I'm generally against piracy rather than for it in most situations, but statements like this are not productive and are attempting to obscure the real situation rather then illuminate it.

Adam Bishop
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I was thinking the same thing when I read that line.

Ian Livingston
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I hate getting involved in these posts, but the "Special 301" is not an objective report.

A post by Michael Geist, from April of last year, discussing Canada's inclusion on the Watch List:

Sean Currie
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Thanks Ian, I was just about to comment on that. Anything from Special 301 is to be taken with a truck load of salt and it's generally used by the US to bully other countries into adopting their take on intellectual property and copyright laws.

Considering the per capita GDP of Brazil and China, it doesn't surprise me that the piracy rates there are high. I know little of the industry in Italy, Spain or France but it would be worth investigating what kind of market penetration there is there and what kinds of logistical issues serve as impediments to consumers getting access to legitimate copies.

E Zachary Knight
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Considering the obscene tariffs laid on game imports in Brazil, it is no surprise to see piracy rates so high. When a game that costs $60 in the US costs $150 in Brazil, you really have to question an attack on the pirates there. If the ESA was really concerned about ending piracy in Brazil, they would be lobbying the Brazil government to remove those tariffs.

Mark Venturelli
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I am as embarassed to see Brazil in the list as I am glad to see that we are getting awareness on the tariff problem.

The best-selling platform in Brazil is PC. The only reason for that is the low tariff of PC games. I can pay $50-$55 for a new PC release on a major store like Saraiva or Fnac.

Also, we have no used game culture here either. Publishers like to say it's evil, but it would make a lot of people I know buy console games instead of pirating. Heck, I would buy a lot more games, used and knew, if I could easily sell the games I'm not playing anymore and buy new ones, or old titles that I'm curious about.

Eric Geer
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"According to the report, Brazil's market barriers mean that legitimate purchases are often priced out of the reach of most consumers, and as such Brazil is fourth on "overall volume of detections" worldwide."

This might be a key factor in any of those top 5 combined countries...but I have heard this the case in many other countries as well...I'm not sure why but the barriers in some countries are extremely high--and I believe they are generally overpriced. In brazil--PS3 launched at over $3000 USD and the slim came out in last year in brazil for like $1000USD. On my US income there's no way I would even bother to pick up a PS3 at that cost...and you could probably assume similar costs in other countries in the same region.

Another thing to think about is that many games aren't offered in all countries...due to restrictions and such. So with cost and titles not making it to certain countries i could see piracy being extremely high.

Evan Bell
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And I thought the rain in Spain fell mainly in the plain.

Ben Pitseleh
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This isn't rocket science here.

China is not a commerce based country like the U.S. so it won't adopt our policies. They pretty much have no copyright law and it will never be enforced. They are typically the source for "piracy tools" such as the R4 or PS3 dongle. No surprise they are on the list.

Brazil has severe lack of supply for video games. What they do have is taxed so heavily it kills the market. No surprise they are on the list either.

I am not familiar enough with Spain, France, or Italy, but I would suspect there would be a simple answer as well. Basically, there is nothing new reported here, the report itself isn't providing any information at all, and is basically just a springboard for debating the piracy threat, which in my mind weakens the position by resorting to scare tactics.

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Sweet, we're on there! ;)

Jose Resines
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Another bullshit study to justify asking for harsher control over the market and the net.

The liberticide law Sinde just passed, ESA. Shouldn't you be happy?. Obama and Biden certainly are, little doggies Zapatero and Rajoy did their part in the end.

Maurício Gomes
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What Spain, France, Italy, Brazil and China have in common?

Each of those, have one of the most spoken languages of the world (the only language that interrupts that list is English, and Hindi), and in each of those, games are rarely localized by publishers.

Sometimes I do run searches for torrents, even without intention of downloading them at all, just to follow the pirates, and several of them come with fan translation to Spanish, French, Italian or Portuguese (I suspect I don't see chinese, because the chinese torrent scene is separate, specially because the different alphabet and that they have sufficient population to be self-sustaining).

Winning Eleven for example is wildly popular in Brazil, recently it became official, but until 3 years ago, if you wanted to play Winning Eleven in portuguese, you had to get a pirated copy (also the pirates bother to put Brazillian and Portuguese teams, championships, narrators...)

And I wrote that, to explain the european piracy, Brazil and China have also other factors (like the absurd taxes on Brazil, and the fact that games are censored...)

Shava Nerad
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Several of these countries are also notorious for open proxies. If I were going to pirate, I would fins an open proxy in another country, particularly one like China or Brazil where cooperation with law enforcement or copyright cops would be least likely. These numbers are less than useless, they're misleading in their foundation. Obviously done by legal, not the geeks...;)

John Petersen
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I've got a desk full of designs I won't show to people because I can't protect them. Something more needs to be done to protect IP's. I'm not ready to make it public domain. Not right off the bat, but don't think I haven't thought of it to make a doorway.

Benjamin Marchand
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I can understand that considering lower overall revenues, China, Brazil, Spain and Italy are subject to piracy.

But France .... Come on, even the minimal legal wage represents fifteen AAA 90$ games...

And am I talking about all those engineers earning 70k $ per year ?

Because obviously piracy is not run only by "poor homeless children who don't have any money".

It's a shame, something must be done. And yeah I'm french, and yeah my business is concerned.