White House, tech giants aim to keep online ads off rogue sites

The White House and eight major tech companies unveil best practices for online ad networks aimed at cutting off revenue to Web sites "selling counterfeit goods or engaging in copyright piracy."

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Several tech giants teamed up with the White House to unveil a set of best practices aimed at keeping online ads off Web sites that offer up pirated content and counterfeit goods.


24/7 Media, Adtegrity, AOL, Conde Nast, Google, Microsoft, SpotXchange, and Yahoo on Monday committed to the voluntary guidelines which are designed to cut off revenue streams for rogue sites dedicated to pirated material and counterfeit goods. The guidelines, which were developed in coordination with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, will be implemented in the coming months.

The White House called the guidelines a "positive step" and urged other online advertisers to adopt the best practices.

"The Administration strongly supports voluntary efforts by the private sector to reduce infringement and we welcome the initiative brought forward by the companies to establish industrywide standards to combat online piracy and counterfeiting by reducing financial incentives associated with infringement," White House Intellectual Property Coordinator Victoria Espinel wrote in a blog post. "Today's news is a good example of how the public and private sector can work to combat piracy and counterfeiting while protecting and, in fact, further encourage the innovation made possible by an open Internet."

While the White House praised today's "collective effort," government officials and the entertainment industry have gone after online ad networks in the past for not doing enough to stop rogue sites. The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act would have forced Internet providers to prevent access to rogue sites when served with a court order. And more recently in July, attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma criticized Google for allegedly profiting from ads tied to YouTube videos that promote illicit activities.

In a statement, former Senator and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America Chris Dodd applauded the guidelines, but added:

However, 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. 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.

The guidelines say each company will maintain "internal procedures" to prevent rouge sites from participating in their advertising program, but also clearly state that the guidelines are not "intended to impose a duty on any ad network to monitor its network to identify such Web sites."