White House Endorses Ad Network Anti-Piracy Plan

The White House has endorsed a plan put forth by 24/7 Media, Adtegrity, AOL, Condé Nast, Google, Microsoft, SpotXchange, and Yahoo!, with the support of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, committed to a set of best practices to address online infringement by reducing the flow of ad revenue to operators of sites engaged in significant piracy and counterfeiting.  White House IP Enforcement Czar Victoria Espinel stated that the plan

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.

The best practices explain:

Ad Networks do not control the content on third-party websites and are not able to remove websites from the Internet. Nor can Ad Networks engage in extensive or definitive fact finding to determine a particular party’s intellectual property rights. Nevertheless, we believe it is useful for Ad Networks to maintain policies intended to discourage or prevent, to the extent possible, websites that are principally dedicated to selling counterfeit goods or engaging in copyright piracy and have no substantial non-infringing uses from participating in the Ad Network. The signatories to this Statement have individually decided to adopt these voluntary best practices in furtherance of that goal.

The guidelines set up a notice and counter-notice mechanism similar to that used under the DMCA for copyright infringement.  There are concerns that the Ad Networks may be too eager to appease the content creators who advertise with them, thus giving them a dangerous tool that they were unable to win  legislatively with the defeat of SOPA.

The multi stakeholder process is similar to that which fostered the adoption by ISPs of the “Copyright Alert System” (aka the six strike system) under which ISPs agreed to give notice to users of potential infringing behavior.

Through the CAS, copyright owners send notices of alleged copyright infringement to participating Internet Service Providers – the companies that provide access to the Internet over both wired and wireless connections – also known as ISPs, who then forward these notices to their Subscribers in the form of Copyright Alerts. The Alerts, include the date, time, time zone and title of the copyrighted content alleged to have been unlawfully distributed through a peer-to-peer or file sharing system on a Subscribers account. Under the CAS, users will be sent a maximum of six Alerts with an increasing degree of seriousness. In general, there are two Educational Alerts, two “Acknowledgement” Alerts that require a response from the Subscriber, and two Mitigation” AlertsThis Alert notifies the Subscriber that a Mitigation Measure will be implemented after 14 calendar days – unless the ISP is informed during that time that the Subscriber has requested an Independent Review. that impose minor consequences to emphasize the seriousness of the problem.