Ensuring and growing the integrity of brands is a key imperative of any ad agency’s work on behalf of clients. One of the largest threats to brand integrity is the emergence of “rogue Websites”: online operations that sell fraudulent/counterfeit goods or services or that appropriate brands or trademarks for unauthorized uses.
Legislators, law enforcement officials and customs and border patrol agents have all struggled with effective approaches to combating online piracy. On the legislative front, the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) and the "Protect Intellectual Property Act" (PIPA), both introduced by Congress in late 2011, were met with swift and vigorous opposition by the Internet advocacy community as well as many online businesses. This resulted most publicly in the Google and Wikipedia “blackouts" and other online protests. Both bills were subsequently withdrawn.
Despite this, combating online piracy and counterfeiting remains a top priority of the Obama administration and the Congress. The White House Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) and the Congressional International Anti-piracy Caucus has joined with enforcement agencies such as the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (NIPRCC) and US Customs and Border Protection in calling for more involvement from industry. The 4A’s has responded with a strategy to effectively stifle the flow of online media dollars to rogue Website operations by excluding known pirates and counterfeiters from ad insertion orders.
Current 4A's Advocacy
The 4A's, together with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has issued a joint "Statement of Best Practices to Address Online Piracy and Counterfeiting." This statement outlines practical steps that 4A's members can take at their own discretion and on an independent, voluntary, basis such as:
• Preventing ads from being placed on rogue Websites;
• Excluding such Websites from agency services;
• Terminating non-compliant ad placements in response to legitimate complaints from advertisers or rights holders; and,
• Providing for refunds, credits or other re-mediations for non-compliant ad placements.
Victoria Espinel, the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, recently applauded the 4A’s/ANA statement saying, “We want to work with the ad brokers to make these best practices as effective as possible. [Together] we can make some real headway on this issue."
The 4A’s will continue to provide leadership and guidance on this important industry effort. "The deceptive practices of these 'rogue' websites are unfair both to consumers and to the companies that invest vast resources to establish brand integrity,” says Nancy Hill, President and CEO of the 4A’s. “Combating online piracy is a key priority for the entire business community and we look forward to continuing to work with the White House, the Congress and all of our industry partners on this important issue."
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