×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

MPAA Scoffs at New Anti-Piracy Plan

Says "Best Practices" Fall Short of Combating Online Infringement

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL and other companies that manage advertising networks unveiled a set of voluntary “best practices” on combating copyright infringement, a set of standards to follow as studios and record labels urge them to cut off the money supply to online piracy.

But the MPAA is indicating that the set of “best practices” are too weak.

In a statement issued shortly after the White House unveiled the ad network agreement on its website on Monday, MPAA chairman Chris Dodd called it “an incremental step forward that addresses only a narrow subset of the problem and places a disproportionate amount of the burden on rights holders is not sufficient.”

Dodd added that “absent meaningful proactive steps by players in every sector — advertisers, ad agencies, ad placement services, online ad exchanges and rights holders — the results will be similarly incremental.”

But with the prospects dim for Congress passing any type of major anti-piracy legislation, the guidelines reflect the most recent thrust of fighting copyright infringement: Voluntary agreements, including those that are aimed at choking off the money supply to sites that traffic in pirated content.

Copyright holders have long complained that sites thrive on pirated content, enabling them and even enriching themselves through the sale of advertising against the infringing material.

The “best practices” call for ad networks to respond to notices from copyright holders, and to post a contact person for receiving complaints. The ad network will then “perform and appropriate investigation into the complaint,” including whether the website has a direct contract with the site. The ad network then may request that a website no longer sell counterfeit goods or engage in copyright piracy, or it can cease to place ads on the site or pages within the site, or even remove the site from the ad network. The networks also will consider “any credible evidence” by the accused website that it is not engagaing in piracy.

But the set of “best practices” make clear the limitations that the ad networks have in policing infringement. It makes clear that the set of standards cannot be used to show the networks have legal liability, and that it is not a step toward imposing a duty on the network to monitor online piracy. It also makes clear that the websites at issue are those that are “principally dedicated” to online piracy, and have “no substantial non-infringing uses.”

“The sale of counterfeit goods and copyright piracy are issues Ad Networks take seriously, and Ad Networks have policies and practices in place to address this problem,” the ad networks said in a statement outlining the “best practices.” “Rights holders are in the best position to identify and evaluate infringement of their intellectual property. Therefore, the Ad Networks agree that without specific, reliable notices from rights holders, Ad Networks lack the knowledge and capability to identify and address infringement.”

Other companies that have signed on to the voluntary agreement include 24/7 Media, Adtegrity, Condé Nast and SpotXchange, along with the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Susan Molinari, Google’s vice president of public policy and government relations, said in a blog post on Google’s site that “by working across the industry, these best practices should help reduce the financial incentives for pirate sites by cutting off their revenue supply while maintaining a healthy Internet and promoting innovation.”

Fred Humphries, VP of U.S. government affairs for Microsoft, said that “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.”

The “best practices” outline the specific information that copyright holders should include in asking ad networks to take action against an infringement site, including contact information for a website. Content holders, however, have long complained that they are at a disadvantage because often such a website owner is overseas, or it is hard to discern who is even running it.

Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Assn. of America, said that the “real test will come as these practices are implemented, and whether they have a demonstrable impact. We will be monitoring closely.” He cited businesses such as WhiteBullet and Veri-Site that provide “intellectual property risk assessments” so that companies can decide whether they want to do business with a website.

Dodd urged the White House, via the intellectual property enforcement coordinator, Victoria Espinel, to “continue its leadership and convene a meaningful and transparent multi-stakeholder process.” In a report last month, Espinel urged content companies and search engines to work toward voluntary agreements, along with other entities like domain name registrars.

More Biz

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Judge Leans Toward Agencies' Position in Writers Guild Antitrust Suit

    A federal judge indicated on Friday that he will rule in favor of the three major agencies in their antitrust lawsuit against the Writers Guild of America. The WGA has urged U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte to throw out the suit, arguing that its actions in its ongoing battle with the agencies are protected under [...]

  • Keli LeeStep Up Women Network 9th

    Keli Lee Exits ABC Studios International as Disney Considers Division's Fate (EXCLUSIVE)

    ABC veteran Keli Lee has left the international arm of ABC Studios as Disney considers the future of the London-based content unit, Variety has learned. Sources said Disney has told the creative community that there “has been a re-evaluation of ABC Studios International” and that it is re-assessing “the creative direction” of the business. There [...]

  • Biggest Scandals Feuds and Apologies of

    Biggest Scandals, Feuds and Apologies of 2019

    Variety looks back on some of the biggest scandals, feuds and apologies of 2019: College Admissions Scandal Wealthy parents including Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged with bribing school officials to get their unqualified kids into prestigious universities. Shane Gillis Executives at “SNL” hired, then fired, Gillis in September, before the new season started, [...]

  • Biggest Media Moments of 2019

    From 'Catch & Kill' to Shepard Smith: The Biggest Media Moments of 2019

    Variety looks back on some of the most memorable media events of 2019: ‘Catch & Kill’ Reopens Wounds at NBC News Ronan Farrow’s book relitigates his complaints that NBC News tried to tamp down his investigation of harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. NBC News denies the claim. The book contains new allegations against [...]

  • Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division nominee

    DOJ Sides With Irving Azoff Against Radio Stations

    The Department of Justice is taking sides in another hot-button antitrust battle, this time siding with Irving Azoff’s upstart music licensing firm against a group representing 10,000 radio stations. The DOJ Antitrust Division filed a brief on Thursday arguing that the Radio Music License Committee may have engaged in illegal price-fixing when it refused to [...]

  • Best Books of 2019

    The Best Books of 2019

    Whether you experience stressful days due to your professional position, your demanding family, or simply the barrage of never-ending depressing news, there is often no better way to unwind than with a good book. Letting your imagination wander into a new world unlike your own can be exciting, it can be thought-provoking, but perhaps most [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content