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Web Copyright Gets Sharper Arrow

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I've had limited success from following the premise highlighted in US judge: Ad-pushers may be liable for 'facilitating' website piracy, The Register, 09-December-2011.

A district court judge in Massachusetts said that ad networks that have knowledge of infringing activity and provide an "essential" service that helps website operators enable that infringement on a "massive scale" can be found liable for that infringement if they are "intimately and causally involved in a vast number of infringing transactions".


Claire McCracken, a technology law expert with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "Though the court in this case found that Chitika was, like Visa, not responsible for contributory copyright infringement on the site it does potentially open the way for ad networks to be found responsible in some future cases, most notably in cases where rights holders directly notify ad networks that infringement is taking place.


"This means that ad networks and other business support service companies must be very careful how they treat such warnings, Had Elsevier served a takedown notice on Chitika it is likely that the knowledge requirement would have been fulfilled. It would then have been for the court to determine whether the ad network had substantially assisted in the alleged infringement" she said.


Most webdevs are familiar with contacting an infringing site and serving a DMCA complaint to a web host or search engine. This US lower court ruling lends weight to my occasional practice of contacting a copyright infringer's third party ad networks. Given successful results (ads pulled from offending page(s) or entire site) perhaps ~15% of the time before the ruling it will be interesting to see if it increases over the while.

Note: I would not go the ad network complaint route until the others mentioned have failed to discourage the idjits. A further complication: as social media traffic grows simply closing down their SE traffic or causing them to change hosts or domains may not be sufficient deterrent.

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One way or the other, advertisers are going to have to live in a SOPA-protected Internet. If they don't like this approach, they need to stop complaining and start making real suggestions on how to deal with this problem.

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On a side note, our local antivirus Kaspersky had left BSA, since it started supporting SOPA, because:

- SOPA applies to american content

- but anyone in the world is potentially liable

- almost any site can be found guilty

- SOPA is confronted by most major companies and backed by RIA and the likes, which makes it evident, why such strict pirate bounty hunting has been started.


Technically, though, I'd indeed try to solve the case with the infringer, then SEs and only then ad networks (even though removing all ads from the site might hurt more, than removing just SE traffic). Then again, would Google remove AdSense from the millions of scraper sites it supports?


That's the question of the decade, IMHO :)

Edited by A.N.Onym

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