Blue-chip companies are subsidising the UK’s network of websites that allow film and TV content to be downloaded illegally, according to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact).
The group has contacted 83 companies in the past 12 months to tell them some of their online advertising was appearing on file-sharing sites, which the group estimates cost the UK film and TV industry £200m a year.
Fact says BT and Tesco are among the companies who received a warning from Fact, but were all found to be advertising on file-sharing sites in September and October 2011.
The group has identified 33 ad networks including Google’s Adsense and Yahoo’s Search Marketing that place ads on download sites.
But Fact says UK ad serving firm Telemetry is using built-in verification technology that helps ad networks and publishers to eradicate sites with unlicensed content from their networks.
Ad networks and publishers need to recognise that there is a solution that would eliminate this problem, says Anthony Rushton, co-founder of Telemetry
If advertisers make the suppliers accountable to their own networks through transparent accountability, Fact will not need to waste any more letterheads on this issue, he said.
According to Tesco, the company works only with websites and networks that are Internet Advertising Sales House (IASH) accredited.
“We are working with our advertising agencies to utilise ad blocking technology as a further safeguard,” the company said in a statement.
BT also said it would never knowingly advertise on web sites that enable copyright infringement. “Where we are alerted that our ads on running on such sites we immediately remove them,” said a company spokesman.
“We buy a significant amount of online media via networks and ad exchanges who must adhere to an extensive list of terms and conditions. This includes not advertising on sites blacklisted by BT,” he said.
These blacklisted sites, updated daily, include ones that offer illegal downloads, adult content and violence or any other content considered inappropriate to BT, the company said.