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Google, Yahoo and Microsoft unite to fight piracy

A handful of tech giants have teamed up with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the White House to reduce the flow of ad revenue to operators of sites engaged in significant infringement and counterfeiting.

Eight companies - including AOL, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo - have agreed to best practices, whereby they decline to do business with websites "principally dedicated to selling counterfeit goods or engaging in copyright piracy."

These best practices build upon the framework of the IAB Quality Assurance Guidelines programme, which kicked off in April 2011 with the intent of keeping legitimate ads off sites with inappropriate content. An updated version of the guidelines is set for a summer release.

"Ultimately, we want to create and maintain a healthy online space, promote innovation, and protect intellectual property," Laura Covington, Yahoo's vice president of IP Policy, said in a statement. "The best practices we have committed to will help all of us get there."

Microsoft said in its own blog post that it will implement these best practices within the coming months.

"Microsoft is pleased to be a part of this collective effort to combat piracy, and to help ensure a healthy advertising ecosystem," said Fred Humphries, vice president of US government affairs. "We applaud the Administration's leadership on intellectual property and innovation, as well as the public-private collaboration that made these Best Practices a reality."

The group, which also includes 24/7 Media, Adtegrity, Condé Nast, and SpotXchange, have the full support of President Barack Obama's administration, according to a White House statement.

"The Administration strongly supports voluntary efforts by the private sector to reduce infringement and we welcome the initiative brought forward by the companies to establish industry-wide standards to combat online piracy and counterfeiting by reducing financial incentives associated with infringement," said US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel.

Google, meanwhile, boasted about its 2012 record of disabling ad serving to 46,000 sites for violating policies on copyright infringement, and shutting down more than 82,000 accounts of those attempting to advertise counterfeit goods.

"There's always more that can be done by the industry to starve these infringing sites of advertising revenues," Google's Susan Molinari, vice president of public policy and government relations, said in a statement. "By working across the industry, these best practices should help reduce the financial incentives for pirate sites by cutting off their revenue supply while maintaining a healthy Internet and promoting innovation."