A recent study reports that country code Top-Level Domains (“ccTLDs”) belonging to Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are the most commonly used for online copyright infringement.  The study, published in January by Internet researcher Cedric Manara, focuses on data provided by Google regarding the requests it receives to remove search results that link to websites hosting infringing content.

Other ccTLDs rounding out the top ten sources of online infringement include Samoa (.ws), the Czech Republic (.cz), the European Union (.eu), India (.in), Russia (.ru), Tonga (.to), and Montenegro (.me).  As the graph below illustrates, Sweden’s ccTLD (.se) far outpaces all others in terms of the total number of takedown notices received.   

Online infringement by ccTLD

Manara’s study comes at a time marked by new global partnerships in combating online counterfeiting and infringement.  The “Operation In Our Sites” campaign, launched by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in June 2010, has already seized more than 2,000 domains used for copyright and trademark infringement.  A significant number of these seizures have occurred in the context of joint international law enforcement actions; in November 2012, ICE teamed up with agencies from Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Police Office (Europol) to seize 132 domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit clothing, luxury goods, and other merchandise online.   These seizures — dubbed Project Cyber Monday 3 and Project Transatlantic — shut down U.S.-based sites as well as sites using .eu, .be, .dk, .fr, .ro and .uk ccTLDs.

These results show that websites engaged in trademark and copyright infringement can be based anywhere in the world.  Rights owners should be careful not to assume that online infringement only occurs in countries with reputations for counterfeiting — as Manara points out, Google received fewer than 300 takedown requests for .cn (China) names.  Rights owners can report infringing domain names and learn more about ICE’s enforcement efforts by visiting http://www.IPRCenter.gov.  In addition, accredited domain name registrars and other content hosting sites (e.g., YouTube) have policies that prohibit use or display of infringing content; many of these sites provide similar online tools that enable rights owners to report violations.