GroupM, one of the world’s leading advertising companies, has compiled a blacklist of more than 2,000 URLs in an attempt to prevent its clients’ ads from appearing on pirate websites. The blacklist includes many of the usual suspects such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, but it also features many perfectly legitimate websites including Archive.org and BitTorrent Inc’s site.
GroupM is a leading player in the advertising world, spending several billion dollars buying ads on websites each year. The company represents many top brands worldwide and has more than 17,000 employees and 400 offices.
In keeping with a company of its stature, GroupM is very diligent when it comes to the placement of their clients’ ads. To ensure ‘legit’ advertising placements, this week GroupM introduced a blacklist designed to prevent its clients’ ads from appearing on websites that distribute illegally obtained content.
“We’re serious about combating piracy and protecting our clients’ intellectual property as forcefully as we possibly can,” said GroupM North America CEO Rob Norman in the press release.
“Pirate sites are known to ‘domain hop,’ so we need to keep on top of the latest list of identified offenders as best as we possibly can in order to enforce this new policy to its fullest effect,” Norman added.
Indeed, companies that maintain a blacklist have to be on top of it, and compile the list with the utmost care. The last thing they want is to miss a potential pirate site, or indeed the opposite – include websites that don’t offer or link to unauthorized downloads at all.
GroupM was kind enough to share the full list of 2279 domains with TorrentFreak, so we could see for ourselves how accurate their list is. As we suspected, there’s still a lot of work to do for the advertising giant.
Among the ‘pirate’ websites that are currently listed we find the non-profit digital library Archive.org, which isn’t particularly known for offloading warez. Also listed is the website of BitTorrent Inc., the San Francisco based company which only offers its own software for download.
Neither of the above sites carry advertising at the moment, which limits the effects of the blacklist, but they are undoubtedly unhappy being branded as pirates.
“BitTorrent is simply a technology company that enables people to efficiently move large files over the Internet. We don’t distribute unauthorized content, though we do work with many independent artists to help distribute their works,” BitTorrent Inc’s Senior Director of Marketing Allison Wagda told TorrentFreak.
Aside from Archive.org and BitTorrent.com there are various other websites in the list which don’t offer or even link to copyrighted material. The file-sharing clients Frostwire, Emule, BitTornado, SoulSeek and Acquisition for example, the IRC client mIRC and the ‘legal’ torrent search engines Mininova, Publicdomaintorrents and YouTorrent.com.
Other websites that are not directly linked to piracy are the Russian Facebook Vkontakte, the video portal Suprnova.org and the Linux distro site Tuxdistro.com.
And then there are many file-hosting services such as RapidShare, YouSendit and the late Drop.io that are in the grey area to say the least. All are banned from serving ads. Those who take a good look at the list will see many websites that are not necessarily linked to copyright infringement, but are included nonetheless.
GroupM’s failed effort to compile a completely accurate anti-piracy blacklist once again shows the problem with these types of censorship; the collateral damage. Although one can certainly make a case for blocking many of the listed sites, it also puts several obviously non-infringing sites in the same corner.
Although there are problems, rather than hide behind a veil of secrecy, GroupM has been bold enough to allow their list into the open, a level of transparency rarely seen in these instances. GroupM was asked to comment on our findings, and we will add their response to the article when it comes in.