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Commission one step closer to restricting revenues of websites that breach intellectual property rights

Commission one step closer to restricting revenues of websites that breach intellectual property rights
Published on: 25/10/2016
On 21 October at a meeting on online advertising and intellectual property rights, stakeholders agreed on the basic principles of an agreement to help to restrict the income that IP-infringing websites get from online advertising.

The meeting was organised by the European Commission and attended by representatives of the advertising industry, right holders, advertisers, intermediaries and technology providers.

This voluntary agreement is the second in a series of self-regulatory initiatives being developed by the Commission under the 'follow the money' approach to IP enforcement, as announced in the Digital Single Market and Single Market strategies. The first of such agreements was the Memorandum of Understanding on the online sale of counterfeit goods, signed on 21 June this year at the IPR Enforcement Conference organised by the Commission.

One participant, the European Association of Communications Agencies, welcomed the agreement, looking forward to translating the principles into a properly functioning and effective Memorandum of Understanding. The association joined other industry bodies in expressing their commitment to further co-operation on the principles by bringing together their members' positions, who already champion good practices in minimising funding of IP infringing websites via advertising.

The EU level agreement complements the efforts already made by many national stakeholders. Speaking for Group M, Bethan Crockett explained that "Intellectual property theft and the illicit distribution of content are growing concerns for artists, content-owning media companies, marketers and the agencies that serve them. For content owners and artists, copyright infringement is theft that impacts their revenues. For marketers whose ads end up on websites trafficking in such content, brand reputation is placed in jeopardy. For many years, GroupM has assembled blacklists and other tools to keep our clients away from online pirates, so we're pleased to see and support the progress made by the EU Commission and all participants today in agreeing guiding principles for an industry-wide response."

Richard Foan, Chairman of the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK and Ireland (JICWEBS) said, "We are pleased to be one of the key industry bodies working with the EU and commercial companies in support of Pan European industry self-regulation. This agreement encourages self-regulation and builds on initiatives that are already in place and working (such as the JICWEBS DTSG programme in the UK). EU support for, and promotion of these principles are important foundations for reducing ad misplacement in general, which will support IP rights owners in particular."

The UK Internet Advertising Bureau also welcomed the Commission's work to promote the 'Follow the money' approach to IP enforcement, saying that, "This approach has been effective in the UK through the use of the City of London Police Infringing Website List, used by the industry within the JICWEBS DTSG self-regulatory framework to improve brand safety online."

Advertisers also welcomed the initiative, with David Wheeldon, Group Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Sky, saying, "As a large European entertainment group and as a prominent advertiser, Sky welcomes the start of this important initiative, which is part of the wider Digital Single Market process. We cannot have a true single market for content without robust and effective enforcement. Follow the Money and the process to block advertising on infringing sites must also go hand in hand with a positive revision of the Enforcement Directive and strong measures by all parts of the internet ecosystem."

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