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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has singled out the digital currency bitcoin for condemnation in its latest list of “notorious websites.” The list singles out sites that provide access to pirated content like The Pirate Bay, Kat, Torrent Reactor, and Extra Torrent. The RIAA’s goal is to convince the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to block internet access to the sites.

The bitcoin, you may recall, is the purely digital currency which is traded and derived ultimately from the value of complex data work completed by computers online. They are not backed by a government or bank. The RIAA asserts that the use of bitcoin as payment for pirated content has made it difficult if not impossible for government to track and to seize such assets from infringing sites as they are able to do with traditional national currencies.

RIAA Executive Vice President Neil Turkewitz had this to say in his letter to the USTR:

In April 2013, the site started accepting donations from the public by Bitcoin, a digital currency, which operates using peer-to-peer technology,” the statement continued. “There is no central authority or banks involved which makes it very difficult to seize or trade Bitcoin funds. In May 2013, the site also started accepting Litecoin, another peer-to-peer based internet currency.”

Bitcoin has been very much the flavor of the week among some entrepreneurs and investors. We have written previously about its popularity and real and potential problems. Bitcoin’s use in pirate transactions is very much the tip of a potentially catastrophic iceberg. Because it is difficult to track and almost impossible to seize it has already become the currency of choice in any number of drug and money laundering transactions.

 

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