An initiative supported by web giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo is targeting digital piracy by attempting to cut of its lifeblood – advertising.

Many websites that offer pirated content such as music, film, and computer software, manage to be profitable because of the high volume of traffic they receive and the advertising rates they receive for the banners and pop-up ads on their pages. The theory is that if this revenue is cut off, then fewer of these pirate sites would continue to exist to cause headaches for the media industries.

As an idea it certainly makes sense, and whilst not all pirate websites rely on advertising for their profits, the vast majority do and could be hard hit by the proposals brokered by the US government’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Co-ordinator. However, in reality the digital advertising networks that have signed up to the scheme are not the same ones that already supply the infringing sites with ads.

Most top tier advertising networks including Google AdSense and Casale Media already block pirate sites from their network as they try to sell ads to big brands. However, smaller ad networks with less restrictive rules represent advertisers that are more interested in volume than quality of traffic, and so pirate sites offer them the perfect opportunity.

This initiative is a useful first step in addressing widespread piracy online, but it is going to have very little impact unless all advertising networks are required to support it.


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