Lawmakers push advertisers to stop supporting pirate sites

Members of the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus are asking online ad networks to do more to keep advertisements off websites that promote online piracy.

"Only through proactive efforts will the harms associated with ad-supported piracy be mitigated," the caucus wrote in identical letters to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers.

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The caucus is led by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Over the past two years, the ad networks have developed and updated best practices to keep copyright-infringing sites from hosting — and thereby profiting from — the advertising of legitimate brands.

"We support these steps, but note that much remains to be done to operationalize the commitments made and to make them effective in preventing the appearance of legitimate ads on pirate sites, rather than simply responding once they are placed," the caucus wrote.

The group of lawmakers called on the ad networks to develop "greater specificity" around steps to prevent legitimate ads from ever appearing on pirate sites, as well as ways to measure how effective those steps are.

"Until recently the technological tools needed to carry out such preventive measures were not available," the letter said "But marketplace solutions are emerging, and the time is ripe for stakeholders to come together with a renewed focus on developing and implementing a more effective preventive regime that can harness those new technological developments."

The caucus also asked the ad networks to consider ways to address mobile advertisements, "which represents a significant and growing share of online advertising revenues, both for legitimate and pirate sites."