Tech firms, including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, have joined an initiative that targets websites that profit from piracy by cutting off the cash they get from adverts.
This means ads will be withdrawn from sites pirating music and films or selling counterfeit goods, as many of these sites rely on ad revenues to cover their running costs.
Research by Google found that advertising funded 86% of music filesharing sites and a study by the University of Southern California revealed that Google and Yahoo were two of the biggest advertisers on pirate websites, according to the Guardian.
The initiative is intended to complement other efforts to combat pirates such as take down notices and court orders to get internet service providers to block access to the sites.
Under the scheme brokered by the US government’s property enforcement co-ordinator and advertising industry body the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), rights holders can inform advertising networks that their adverts are appearing on offending sites.
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It is up to the ad serving network to investigate and withdraw the advertisement if they agree the site is involved in piracy or selling counterfeit goods in accordance with best practice guidelines.
The scheme also allows sites accused of copyright infringement to file evidence in their defence, but has yet to get the support of the top ten ad networks that supply ads to illicit sites.
Despite the support from several tech firms and ad networks, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has said it does not expect the scheme to make much difference, according to the BBC.
The MPAA said the scheme addresses only a narrow subset of the problem and places a disproportionate amount of the burden on rights holders.
However, UK music industry body, the BPI, is working with the Internet Advertising Bureau on a similar scheme that has yet to be announced, according to the Guardian.
The UK scheme will use a central database of piracy sites for ad networks, agencies and brands to refer to and avoid when planning campaigns.