In a move to combat online piracy and copyright infringement, leading ad networks have agreed to a set of best practices set to cut-off ad revenues from sites hosting pirated media or promoting the sale of counterfeit drugs. The participating ad networks include Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, 24/7 Media, Adtegrity, AOL, Condé Nast and SpotXchange.
Pressure has been mounting on Google, in particular, and the online ad network industry in general to combat online counterfeiting and copyright infringement. Brandon Bailey of SiliconBeat reports many critics are still not satisfied with the new Obama administration-approved guidelines as they put the onus on copyright holders to monitor for violations.
Google’s Eric Schmidt said just last week that Hollywood should take online counterfeiters to court themselves, rather than rely on search engines to take down pirated content. But the company has also made many statements about their detection systems and efforts to take down bad ads and illicit content.
In June, in response to complaints from Attorneys General that the company wasn’t doing enough to prohibit the illicit online sale of pharmaceuticals, Google said they have blocked more than 3 million bad ads from rogue online pharmacies. And, in a statement today about the new guidelines, Google’s Susan Molinari said the company “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 in 2012.”
Under the new guidelines, copyright holders can submit complaints about copyright and trademark infringement to ad networks. The ad network may then request the violating site stop selling counterfeit materials or engaging in piracy and opt to pull advertising on the website or specific pages on the website until the site verifies it’s in compliance. A final step would be to remove the website from the ad network altogether.
Rights holders must provide evidence of the illegal activity, such as a time-stamped screenshot of the page that includes both the pirated content and an ad from the ad network. The rights holder must also then provide verification that the ad is actually served by the ad network. “This can be done by providing, for example, a Tamper Data trace and relevant screenshots showing that the participating website is making ad calls to the Ad Network for the advertising reflected in the screenshots,” per the guidelines.
These new guidelines aim make rights holders and ad networks work together to reduce ”financial incentives associated with infringement,” according to a statement by Victoria Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, yet it’s not all that surprising the ad networks are more enthusiastic about a voluntary set of guidelines that keep the reporting and evidence-gathering responsibilities with rights holders.