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Capitol Hill Leaders Spotlight Advertisements On Rogue Sites

Calls on major brands to cut off advertising to illegal sites

WASHINGTON – The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus (IAPC) today turned its focus to major companies whose advertising appears on rogue sites dedicated to the theft of creative works, highlighting the concern that the placement of ads on these sites connotes a veneer of legitimacy and subsidizes an illegal site’s continued existence.  Members of the IAPC announced their intention to send letters to these brands requesting information about the firms’ advertising policies in what the Congressional leaders said was a cooperative effort to cut off advertising on rogue websites that traffic in illegal content. 

Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), was on hand at the news conference in the U.S. Capitol as IAPC members displayed screen shots of some illicit websites, marked with advertisements and logos from some of the most well-known American brands.  The event also served to spotlight IAPC’s release of its annual “watch list” naming the top five countries with the most inadequate intellectual property protections, thus providing safe harbor to many rogue sites dedicated to the online theft of copyrighted works.  This year’s list included Canada, China, Russia, Spain and the Ukraine.

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus is comprised of Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Adam Schiff (D-Cal.).

“It’s essential that we reign in online thieves and business models predicated on ripping off America’s songwriters, musicians and performers,” said Bainwol at the event.  “A review of the most frequently visited web sites – including those specializing in pre-release songs that are not yet even available in the legitimate marketplace -- feature banner ads for some of America’s best known companies.

“We don’t believe the good corporate citizens featured on these sites are aware that their ad buys are funding criminal enterprises. Thanks to the good work of the IAPC, IPEC Victoria Espinel and Vice President Biden, we are moving closer to an Internet environment where pirate sites specializing in ripping off American consumers and brands are starved out of business.”

The event comes on the heels of today’s Senate Judiciary Committee passage of the bipartisan PROTECT IP Act by Hatch and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).  The bill requires payment processors and advertisers to cut off services to offshore sites determined by federal courts to be primarily dedicated to the online theft of American goods. These sites cause billions of dollars in damages to American creative industries, costing millions of jobs that rely on the legitimate sales of their work.

The RIAA recently joined an extensive coalition of 170 companies and organizations from a broad array of sectors – including adidas, Ford, the NBA, Nike, PING, Revlon, Rosetta Stone, Wal-Mart and many others – in sending a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate to express support for and encourage enactment of the PROTECT IP Act.


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy