Report shows proliferation of rogue websites

Online piracy and counterfeiting sites have proliferated rapidly and are generating more than 50 billion online visits per year, according to a new report from MarkMonitor.

Using 22 brands as criteria, MarkMonitor searched the Web for sites offering pirated or counterfeit goods and turned up 48 sites selling counterfeit physical goods generating 87 million visits per year. The firm also found 43 sites with pirated digital content and 26 selling counterfeit prescription drugs.

“Online counterfeiting and piracy is a destructive force that threatens consumers, hurts our businesses, and costs American jobs,” said Steve Tepp, senior director of internet counterfeiting and piracy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center.

“Whether it is the sale of counterfeit bags and fake pharmaceuticals or illegal distribution of movies, music, and software, online IP theft is theft — plain and simple,” Tepp added.

"As the report demonstrates, a small number of rogue websites are generating mind-boggling traffic in pirated content," said Motion Picture Association of America president Bob Pisano.

"Billions of visits to these easily searchable websites – the vast majority of which are hosted in North America or Western Europe translate into billions in lost revenue and lost American jobs."

The Obama administration began a crack-down on websites selling counterfeit or pirated materials last year, with the Department of Homeland Security seizing dozens of domains in November that allegedly facilitate copyright infringement.