50 domains have been seized in Italy over the involvement in the illegal distribution of copyrighted content. The Court of Rome ordered the seizure, which targeted websites offering free digital versions of national newspapers and magazines. This kind of anti-piracy operations is quite rare, because it’s usually movies, music and TV shows that show up in the headlines.
Following an investigation carried by copyright holders and the Public Prosecutor of Rome, 50 domains involved in the illegal distribution of news and magazine content have been seized. The authorities explained that all of the sites were taken offline after offering content originally published by major newspapers and periodicals, such as Cosmopolitan, Fashion Magazine, and Vanity Fair. They also believe that the sites were probably under the control of separate entities.
Such sites usually operate in the following way: someone buys the paper or digital copies of newspapers using a duly registered account and then makes them available for free on the pirate website. Italy usually employed the “follow-the-money” approach, whereby website operators were identified via payments received from advertisers and other business partners. However, it seems that now it uses the “follow-the-hosting” approach – this one helps identify site operators, even when they use Cloudflare to hide the location of their servers.
The targeted websites are said to have served millions of users with pirated newspaper and magazine content, while national media groups have lost 1/3 of their turnover over the past 5 years. Industry observers say that large-scale anti-piracy operations to protect publishers are very rare, but considering the market closing in and ad revenues falling, more could follow soon.