Cloudflare provides services to a high proportion of websites dedicated to piracy and counterfeiting

Cloudflare provides services to a high proportion of websites dedicated to piracy and counterfeiting

Latest paper from Corsearch reveals how big business can do more to stop online IP infringements impacting the global creative industries 

17 January 2023 – The latest research from Corsearch’s brand and content protection division shows that a disproportionate number of websites engaging in online piracy or counterfeiting use Cloudflare’s services.  

According to Corsearch’s research, 71% of websites which Corsearch notified to Google for search engine demotion used Cloudflare’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) services1

In addition:  

  • Nearly half (49%) of all websites flagged for content piracy (e.g. film, TV, music, photography) used Cloudflare 
  • A quarter (23.5%) of all websites flagged for offering counterfeited goods used Cloudflare 

Additional analysis of the ‘Infringing Websites List’, which was created by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) showed that 67% of the websites listed by PIPCU use Cloudflare’s services.  

The proliferation of unlawful products, services and content online undermines consumer trust and can lead to substantial consumer harm. The unwitting online purchase of a counterfeit pharmaceutical, for example, can have lethal consequences. The download of a pirate film can infect consumer hardware with viruses and malware – and in either case, the people behind the sale and distribution of counterfeit or pirate goods and services may be involved in organised criminal activity. 

Cloudflare, a US-listed business, does not verify identification and business or personal registration details for its CDN customers. This, combined with the fact that base elements of the CDN service are free, is an incentive for bad actors to use Cloudflare’s services. Though the sites analysed are not hosted by Cloudflare, the business is uniquely positioned to do more to protect rights holders and suppress the scourge of online piracy and counterfeiting. Many intermediaries are already taking steps to prevent harm to consumers where bad actors are using their services to infringe intellectual property, including requiring any infringing content to be removed by the host, or terminating their services. 

Simon Baggs, President of Brand and Content Protection at Corsearch said: “Cloudflare is a key intermediary that can do a lot more. Its services are fundamental to the operation of many websites that infringe intellectual property. There is no doubt that if Cloudflare followed the example of others and did more to assist rights owners, the online environment for consumers would be substantially improved.” 

Detective Constable Abdun Noor from the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said: 

“PIPCU works with a number of internet-related service providers to make the internet a safe place for users to consume content, while protecting the rights of content creators.  

“We ask the service providers we work with to support the removal of domains that are harmful to the creative industry and its consumers. There is still work to be done for all providers to have policies in place that ensure they aren’t benefiting harmful domains and preventing law enforcement from taking action against them.” 

Corsearch’s findings are also backed up by several other papers and regulatory submissions. In 2022, the Motion Picture Association in the US filed a submission on behalf of studios (including Netflix, Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment), which noted that “Cloudflare’s customers include some of the most notorious, longstanding pirate websites in the world”. The International Federation of the Photographic Industry has also made similar submissions to the European Commission’s Counterfeit and Piracy Watchlist.  

Baggs added: “We have laid out eight key actions that Cloudflare can take to stop its services being used for infringement. We urge Cloudflare to review our report and to implement change.”    


Notes to Editors 

About Corsearch: 

Corsearch intelligent Trademark & Brand Protection solutions are revolutionizing how companies commercialize and protect their growth. Trusted by over 5,000 brands and law firms worldwide, Corsearch delivers data, analytics, and services that support brands to market their assets and reduce risks to revenue and consumers. Whether it’s online or offline, Corsearch IP research and protection solutions help customers to secure, monitor, and enforce their IP rights.  

Media contact: 

Sophie Mellish, Rostrum 

[email protected] 

+44 (0) 7854 272 007