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Ad industry group launches anti-piracy app

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry initiative to fight criminal activity in the digital advertising supply chain, has launched the TAG Pirate Mobile App Tool, a new shared resource to help members prevent their advertising from appearing on mobile apps that distribute pirated content, such as copyright-protected music, movies, TV shows, and games. At launch, the tool includes more than 8,000 apps that violate the intellectual property rights of content owners, and it will be updated with new pirate apps as they are identified and shared by TAG members and other supporting organisations.

“As user activity has shifted to the mobile world, so have the criminals who exploit it through mobile apps that distribute illegal pirated content and sell advertising against it,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “By sharing information about those illegal apps, TAG helps companies quickly identify and remove them from their supply chains, thus cutting off the flow of money to pirates and intellectual property thieves. As the sole Information Sharing and Analysis Organization for the digital advertising industry, TAG is uniquely positioned to serve in this important anti-piracy role.”

Mobile app piracy – or the placement of legitimate ads on illegitimate, infringing mobile apps – is a significant and growing problem in digital advertising. Once an app is made available on an app store, it can be downloaded broadly before it is removed due to copyright or trademark infringement. Such apps can continue to operate at scale even after removal from a store, and many generate revenue through advertisements.

TAG’s Pirate Mobile App Tool stems from the work of TAG’s Anti-Piracy Working Group, which has developed a set of best practices guidelines to help advertisers, agencies, and mobile ad tech intermediaries identify and filter out infringing mobile apps from their advertising inventory. Those guidelines also include the framework for companies to contribute to and use the TAG Pirate Mobile App Tool to identify and block infringing mobile apps.

TAG has been designated as the first and only Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO) for the digital advertising industry. As such, TAG serves as the industry’s lead information sharing organisation around threats, incidents, and best practices, particularly those related to ad-related malware, ad-supported piracy, ad fraud, and associated threats. Other information-sharing resources available to members include TAG’s Malware Threat Sharing Hub, Data Center IP List, and network of certified compliance officers at member companies.

“The tremendous growth in mobile apps that provide ready and legitimate access to movies and TV shows has been a boon for creators and the millions of men and women whose jobs depend on the creative industry,” noted Farnaz M. Alemi, Vice President, Global Content Protection Counsel at The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. “However, even as more and more content is being consumed through mobile platforms, this creative marketplace is being threatened by a profusion of illicit mobile apps that distribute a vast range of pirated content globally. The initiative announced today provides a welcome new tool to help block the financial incentives for criminal enterprises that are turning a handsome profit from advertising on pirate mobile apps and large-scale pirate websites. The MPAA thanks the Trustworthy Accountability Group for its leadership in this effort.”

“As music listening on smartphones has exploded, so has the rise in mobile apps that specialize in scamming users and stealing from creators,” commented Victoria Sheckler, SVP, Deputy General Counsel, Recording Industry Association of America. “One recent study analysing this space found that 73 percent of respondents assume any music app offering downloads from an official app store is licensed by artists and rights holders. One of the best tools to address this scourge is the voluntary sharing of information among advertisers and other important stakeholders to ensure legitimate ads do not find their way on to these bad apps. We welcome this initiative and best practices guidelines and appreciate the work of TAG to keep the legitimate app marketplace a safe place where creativity can flourish.”

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