Ad Networks and Major Tech Companies Adopt Anti-Piracy Measures

The White House has gathered voluntary support and commitment from several major tech companies, publishers, and ad networks to combat online piracy and counterfeiting. The Office of Management and Budget worked with eight companies and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) to establish guidelines aimed at “reducing the flow of ad revenue to operators and sites engaged in significant piracy and counterfeiting.”

The group of eight - AOL, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Conde Nast, 24/7 Media, Adtegrity, and SpotXchange - agreed on a pact that calls upon ad networks to exclude sites that sell counterfeit goods or engage in copyright piracy. The companies are also advised to maintain discussions and inform their audiences about the applicable laws. Other measures include a verification process with the IAB and a systematic complaint process by which rights holders can inform ad networks of illegal activity.

“We encourage the companies participating to continue to work with all interested stakeholders, including creators, right holders, and public interest groups, to ensure that their practices are transparent and fully consistent with the democratic values that have helped the Internet to flourish,” notes Victoria Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

She calls the pact “a good example of how the public and private sector can work to combat piracy and counterfeiting while protecting and, in fact, further encourag[ing] the innovation made possible by an open Internet.”

Executives from AOL, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo also shared their thoughts on the pact and the general spirit of the voluntary commitments being made by their respective companies.

Dave Jacobs, senior vice president of publisher sales at AOL, says: “AOL has been building trust with our users for more than 28 years. And we have been equally committed to maintaining high quality standards for advertisers and publishers - taking piracy and counterfeiting seriously. Many of the best practices guidelines very much mirror what we have been doing all along at AOL and, consequently, we quickly supplemented our current practice and are now in compliance with the best practices.”

Susan Molinari, vice president of public policy and government relations at Google, notes: “We continue to develop solutions to help fight piracy and counterfeit online. We think one of the most effective ways to do this is to cut off the money supply to rogue sites that specialize in piracy or counterfeiting. To that end, in 2012 we disabled ad serving to 46,000 sites for violating our policies on copyright infringing content and shut down more than 82,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods. Nearly 99 percent of our account suspensions were discovered through our own detection efforts and risk models.”

Fred Humphries, vice president of U.S. government affairs at Microsoft, comments: "As both a creator of copyrighted works and a provider of online services, including advertising services, Microsoft understands the problems faced by copyright owners subject to massive infringement and the need to ensure that innovation can flourish online…An appropriate notice-and-takedown system - that requires rights holders to identify specific instances of infringement and online services to respond promptly and appropriately to such notices - can address infringement while still respecting critical values such as fair use, privacy, free speech and the freedom to innovate.“

And finally, Laura Covington, vice president of intellectual property policy at Yahoo, says: "At Yahoo, we have worked hard to create top-tier data-driven ad networks. We are dedicated to maintaining high quality standards for advertisers and publishers. We prohibit publishers in our ad networks from selling counterfeit goods or engaging in copyright piracy. Ultimately, we want to create and maintain a healthy online space, promote innovation, and protect intellectual property. The best practices we have committed to will help all of us get there.”

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