How surprised would you be if you went to your local Honda dealer and bought a car, but when you tried to register it you were told it was stolen property?

What if you went to Target and bought a blender, but when you filled out the warranty card you were told it already belonged to someone else?

Things like this don’t happen, right? Companies like Honda and Target are respectable merchants who would never encourage the distribution of stolen property. Right? Wrong. They do. So do companies like Kraft, Lego, and the makers of Claritin. Every day.

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It sounds insane, but Honda, Toyota, Target, Kraft, Lego, and Claritin are spending gobs of money every day to finance theft – whether they know it or not.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a recent tour of the web revealed literally hundreds of so-called “file-sharing” websites offering stolen content that featured advertising paid for by all of the above companies. An ad for Velveeta ran before an illegally hosted episode of “Game of Thrones.” A Honda spot appeared alongside a pirated episode of “Mad Men.”

Plainly put: These file-sharing sites are stealing, and these well-known major brands are paying them to do it.

Of course, the companies make a dubious argument that they aren’t responsible. See, they give their ad dollars to middlemen (internet advertising purveyors with names like Propellerads, ExoClick and Adcash) and these middlemen are the ones who use that money to place ads on sites that traffic in stolen content. Sometimes one middleman gives money to another middleman. It’s complicated.

In fact, it’s so complicated the companies might claim “There’s nothing we can do.” Uh-huh. Question: If Honda ads started showing up on porn sites, do we not think someone over at Honda would get pretty damn aggressive about getting them taken down?

The technology exists. They can avoid placing ads on pirate sites. The question is: Will they?

To their credit, Congress recently called on companies and advertisers to do this very thing. I would like to thank them for their initiative. The Congressional anti-piracy caucus led by Reps. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteRosenstein to appear for House interview next week Fusion GPS co-founder pleads the Fifth following House GOP subpoena House Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein MORE (R-Va.) and Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffLawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi's death Schiff predicts Trump will accept Saudi denials of involvement in Khashoggi's death Schiff suggests Trump has 'financial motives' that influence Saudi Arabia policy MORE (D-Calif.), and Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Democrats won’t let Kavanaugh debate die Senate poised to confirm Kavanaugh after bitter fight MORE (D-R.I.), and Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Congress should work with Trump and not 'cowboy' on Saudi Arabia, says GOP senator US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK MORE (R-Utah), sent a letter to several key advertising associations urging ad networks to develop "greater specificity" about how to stop legitimate ads from ending up on pirate sites, and to create a way to measure how effective those steps are.

These major brands can avoid funding illegal activity. They can. The question is: Will they?

Berg is a film and television writer and director whose credits include “Seinfeld”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” and The Dictator. He is currently executive producer on the HBO comedy series "Silicon Valley."