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GroupM Fights Back Against Pirate Websites

Harold Furchtgott-Roth

Recently, GroupM, one of the world’s largest media management companies, announced that it would require all of its media partners to receive anti-piracy certification from the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG).

No doubt, other media management companies will follow suit. As I have discussed previously, the harms from piracy to the media and advertising world are staggering. Based purely on traffic metrics, unsuspecting advertisers had their messages placed at pirate websites. Such placements enrich the pirate websites while impoverishing the advertiser. The pirate website with advertisements from legitimate businesses obtains instant legitimacy in the eyes of consumers. But the advertiser loses. The brand is tarnished by association with the pirate site. And visitors to pirate sites are hardly inclined to make legitimate purchases from a legitimate company.

This mismatching of legitimate advertising with pirate sites will end with the TAG certification program. Advertisers placing ads through GroupM will have confidence that their advertisements will appear only at legitimate sites, not pirate sites. TAG is jointly created the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and GroupM Interaction. It will provide certification for web sites that do not traffic pirated materials so that more advertising can be routed to those legitimate sites. Legitimate advertisers can insist that their advertising only go to certified sites.

Pirate websites are big business. They trade in pirated intellectual property such as movies, software, and recorded music. They also trade in controlled substances, stolen property, gambling, and illegal activities. Pirate websites are all too common. A recent Google search revealed 4.77 million hits for the search term “pirate websites.”

Among the leading pirate sites are those associated with “Pirate Bay.” Pirate Bay’s cofounder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg (aka Anakata) was recently released from Swedish prison after serving three years for various crimes. Other Pirate Bay cofounders have also served time, but various Pirate Bay sites remain in operation.

The online world has not created criminals out of unwitting individuals. Rather, criminals have wittingly exploited the Internet. TAG and similar groups are fighting back.

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