MPAA Dings Internet Ad Take-Down Scheme as Insufficient

MPAA said that the plan to yank ads for pirated content places too much burden on rights holders

The Motion Picture Assn. of America criticized a proposed plan to take down ads for pirated content as insufficient on Monday.

The MPAA called the plan, announced by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, "an incremental step forward" in the fight against online piracy despite the fact it was endorsed by White House’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel.

In the MPAA's view, the new industrywide "best practices" standards put too much burden on rights holders to identify ads for products or web sites selling pirated content. It suggested far more needs to be done by the ad providers and others to stop this advertising.

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IAB members under the plan will each post policies prohibiting websites that are principally dedicated to selling counterfeit goods or engaging in copyright piracy from participating in advertising programs. The policies will include procedures for rightful owners of products to request the ads removal.

Representatives for Google and Microsoft maintain that the policies would be effective.

"By working across the industry, these best practices should help reduce the financial incentives for pirate sites by cutting off their revenue supply while maintaining a healthy Internet and promoting innovation," wrote former congressman Susan Molinari, Google's senior VP-public policy and government relations.

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Fred Humphries, Microsoft VP U.S. government affairs, said Microsoft "understands the problems faced by copyright owners subject to massive infringement and the need to ensure that innovation can flourish online.

"It’s been our experience that a notice-and-takedown mechanism like the one envisioned by these Best Practices can be an effective means to address online infringement," he wrote. "An appropriate notice-and-takedown system – that requires rights holders to identify specific instances of infringement and online services to respond promptly and appropriately to such notices – can address infringement while still respecting critical values such as fair use, privacy, free speech and the freedom to innovate.”

But the MPAA criticized the proposal for addressing only a narrow subset of the problem.

"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," it said.

MPAA urged the administration to move toward a comprehensive response the problem.

Espinel, meanwhile, praised the industry for trying to take action voluntarily, calling it a positive step that "can have a significant impact on reducing online piracy and counterfeiting" in a blog post on the White House website.

At the same time she conceded there is far more work to be done.

"We encourage the companies participating to continue to work with all interested stakeholders, including creators, right holders, and public interest groups, to ensure that their practices are transparent and fully consistent with the democratic values that have helped the Internet to flourish," she wrote. "We also encourage other participants in the online advertising space to consider adopting voluntary initiatives that protect ad networks, publishers, advertisers, creators, rightholders, and above all, consumers."