Study Shows Counterfeit Sites Highest in Europe and US

Nearly three-quarters of all web sites selling counterfeit goods and more than two-thirds of those offering pirated content are hosted in Western Europe and North America, according to new research.

A study by MarkMonitor revealed that sites offering pirated digital content attracted 53 billion visits last year, while those selling counterfeit goods generated more than 92 million visits.

"Examining traffic patterns and geographic information are vital to identifying and prioritising enforcement actions rather than playing 'whack-a-mole' with egregious offenders," said Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer at MarkMonitor.

MarkMonitor tracked 22 brands ranging from prescription drugs and athletic equipment to music and films, during the course of 2010.

Of those sites offering pirated films or music, 67 per cent were hosted in North America or Western Europe. It was a similar tale for fake goods, where 73 per cent of sites were hosted in those locations.

According to the International Chamber of Commerce, sales of fake goods could be worth as much as 7 per cent of all merchandise trade.

Last year, the controversial international scheme, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), got the green light from the European Parliament.

ACTA aims to encourage international co-operation on intellectual property rights and combat online piracy. It has, though, caused consternation among intellectual property campaigners, who have criticised the fact that negotiations for the trade agreement took place in secret.

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