IWF has written before how more needs to be done to protect intellectual property rights, the theft of which are draining resources from legitimate businesses and our country.  It’s welcome news that industry is working together to try to address this kind of crime by preventing advertisers from patronizing websites that are involved in piracy and facilitating the illegal downloading of copyrighted materials.

A leading media investment group, WPP’s GroupM, just announced that they will require their media partners to become certified by an anti-piracy watch dog (TAG or Trustworthy Accountability Group) and meet specified criteria designed to prevent piracy and the illegal downloading of copyrighted materials.  Preventing companies from purposely or inadvertently associating with websites engaged in criminal behavior could go a long way in discouraging piracy.  As one industry report explains: 

A report from the Digital Citizens’ Alliance estimated that pirate content sites made more than $200 million in 2014 from advertising placed inadvertently on those sites, damaging copyright holders across music, movies, TV, books, games and more. Advertisers whose brands inadvertently appear on such sites suffer reputational harm. In addition, consumers that visit these sites are made to believe the content is legitimate due to the presence of brands they recognize and are often damaged by malware or other malicious code that infects their computers.

This is an important point.  One of the reasons why piracy is so widespread is that consumers don’t always recognize when they are using an illegal service or understand that what they are doing is wrong.  Certainly this problem is compounded when the site you visit is peppered with everyday web advertisements featuring brands you know and trust as good actors.  Preventing such ads from appearing on pirated sites will make those sites easier to identify as well as draining them of advertising dollars.

Government can’t fight crime, especially the kind of theft that occurs in cyberspace, alone.  Consumers ought to applaud businesses working together to find innovative ways to discourage intellectual property crimes, which not only hurt businesses but also our economy, which has an impact on us all.