Groups seek to distinguish rogue operators

Several advertising industry groups are urging marketers to avoid placing ads on websites that traffic in pirated content like movies, music and TV shows.

The Assn. of National Advertisers and the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies unveiled a “statement of best practices” on Thursday that advises marketers to include language in their contracts and insertion orders to prevent ads from appearing on so-called “rogue” sites, where infringing content is made available or sold. The best practices statement also is supported by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

The statement makes clear that it is “not intended to foreclose advertising on legitimate social media or user-generated content sites, even if infringing content occasionally appears on such sites.” During the debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was aimed at foreign rogue sites, opponents raised alarms that the interpretation of the proposed law could cover a host of sites like YouTube, even while supporters said that their claims were wildly exaggerated and in some cases false.

By contrast, the advertisers’ statement is voluntary, another approach to fighting piracy that has the benefit of avoiding the polarizing political process. Last year, the studios and record labels forged an agreement with major Internet providers to start a system of “Copyright Alerts,” in which users will be warned if they are consuming infringing content, with the risk of penalties like having their service slowed if they continually access pirated material.

The advertisers’ best practices statement makes clear that it is not placing a duty on marketers to monitor their advertising to identify “rogue” sites, but calls on them to use “commercially reasonable measures” to prevent such ad spots from appearing on rogue sites and to “expeditiously” remove ads that appear in response to complaints or notices from copyright holders.

Bob Liodice, president and CEO of ANA, said “ads for iconic and trusted brands can lend inadvertent legitimacy to the illicit business models and can mislead consumers into believing that these ‘rogue’ websites are offering authentic products and complying with the law.”

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