Beyond Cloudflare: Data centres for pirated copies – The hall of shame

In February, this blog showed the importance of Cloudflare for Internet piracy.
This analysis was based on the top 5,000 of the still existing copyright infringing pages of the Google Transparency Report. These include more than 2.9 billion reports on deletions from the Google search index; they account for 79% of all reported URLs.
The 1,355 domains that are parked with companies such as Team Internet, Sedo or GoDaddy have to be subtracted from the 5,000 domains. Although these domains still exist, they are currently not used for copyright infringements.

This leaves 3,645 domains. Of these 3,645 copyright-infringing sites, 41.9% run via Cloudflare. For their part, they are responsible for 44.7% of the copyright infringements reported to Google.
But where are the other 58.1% of the pages or 55.3% of the infringing files? This will be examined in more detail below.

All the data centres or shares listed below represent only the part that is not veiled by Cloudflare. There are probably also some pages veiled via Cloudflare located on the respective data centres, so the absolute number should tend to be higher.
In this analysis, a distinction is made between
a) the number of webpages which were reported for containing copyright infringement material
b) the number of URLs reported (the amount of detected copyright infringements on individual sub-pages).

The countries of origin where infringing content was reported: USA, Netherlands (and others)
In both analyses the top 5 countries are the same, only the ranking differs. The top country is always the USA, followed by the Netherlands. More than half of all infringing files or pages are located in the USA and the Netherlands. France and Russia share 3rd and 4th place, Germany 5th. These 5 countries are home to 75.5% of the infringing sites.

Other important countries – which at least from one point of view fall under the top 10 – are in alphabetical order: Canada, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Japan, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Switzerland. Two states from the EU, Switzerland and Moldova indicating a strong European presence.(The countries are assigned according to the headquarters of the company. Data centres operated by the company in other countries are always allocated to the country of the head office. The individual URLS are assigned to the respective main page.)


Data centres of infringing content: Leaseweb (and others)
The most important data centre for copyright infringing content is Leaseweb from the Netherlands, a member of eco the German Internet association.
Whether in terms of the number of pages or the number of reported infringements, Leaseweb always holds the number one position. This company hosts 13.6% of the infringing sites and 10.8% of the reported URLs.
(Basis: Reports of copyright infringements to Google after subtrackting pages hidden behind Cloudflare. The share of Leaseweb could therefore be even higher.)

Among the top 5 – from at least one viewpoint – are in alphabetical order: Amazon (US), Confluence Networks (US), DDoS Protection LTD. (RU), NFOrce Entertainment (NL), OVH SAS (F) and Webzilla (US).

The top 10 data centres are host providers for 47.2% of the infringing sites or have hosted 48.2% of all reported infringing content.
Hetzner Online GmbH, a German company, is also among the top 10.

50% of the infringing sites are hosted at only 13 data centres. With one exception (Russia), they are located in the EU, the USA or Switzerland.

The high proportion of data centres from the EU, Switzerland and the USA whose customers were reported to Google for copyright infringements is immense.


The importance of a small number of EU and US data centres for the distribution of copyright infringing files should lead to a discussion about the responsibility of data centres. Both the EU and the US should take care of their own affairs at home before complaining in long reports about notorious disrupters abroad (see USTR-Report of the USA and Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List of the EU Commission).
The problem of unregulated distribution does not exclusively take place in exotic countries but mainly in Western Europe and the USA. If you want to solve the problem, you have to start here.

Volker Rieck, Jörg Weinrich