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Ad Trade Group Launches Tool to Track Blacklisted Piracy Apps

An advertising industry coalition is launching a new collaboration tool to track apps that promote content piracy — as a way to help marketers ensure they don’t run ads on apps trying to profit from copyright infringement.

Essentially, the tool from the Trustworthy Accountability Group is designed to be a continuously updated blacklist of mobile apps that have been flagged as enabling the distribution of pirated music, movies, TV shows or games.

At launch, the TAG Pirate Mobile App Tool includes more than 8,000 apps that violate the intellectual property rights of content owners, and it will be updated with new offenders as they are identified and shared by TAG members and supporting organizations.

TAG declined to share the names of any of blacklisted apps, which have already been removed from app stores because they’ve been identified as infringing intellectual property rights. Even after an app is removed due to copyright or trademark violations, it can continue to generate revenue through ads.

The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America both voiced support for the new TAG initiative.

“The initiative announced today provides a welcome new tool to help block the financial incentives for criminal enterprises that are turning a handsome profit from advertising on pirate mobile apps and large-scale pirate websites,” said Farnaz Alemi, VP, global content protection counsel at the MPAA.

Victoria Sheckler, SVP, deputy general counsel for the RIAA, added, “As music listening on smartphones has exploded, so has the rise in mobile apps that specialize in scamming users and stealing from creators… One of the best tools to address this scourge is the voluntary sharing of information among advertisers and other important stakeholders to ensure legitimate ads do not find their way on to these bad apps.”

The tool, available to members via the org’s site at tagtoday.net, tracks apps on Apple’s iTunes App Store and Google Play.

Any TAG registered member can submit information to the TAG Pirate Mobile App Tool about infringing apps, if those apps have been removed based on a complaint to the app store that published the app. Advertisers can use the list directly, or they can work with a digital advertising partner to use the TAG Pirate Mobile App Tool as part of existing filtering capabilities for ad placement decisions.

“By sharing information about those illegal apps, TAG helps companies quickly identify and remove them from their supply chains, thus cutting off the flow of money to pirates and intellectual-property thieves,” TAG CEO Mike Zaneis said.

App developers can appeal their inclusion on the list if they believe they’ve been wrongly blacklisted. To so, they must submit evidence that an app at issue doesn’t infringe intellectual property rights, and TAG will review the appeal.

TAG was created by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Members of the organization’s leadership council include Verizon’s Oath, Dentsu Aegis Network, Disney, Facebook, Google, GroupM, NBCUniversal, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, and Warner Bros.

TAG’s other information resources for members include the Malware Threat Sharing Hub, Data Center IP List, and network of certified compliance officers at member companies.

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