Google and Yahoo are among the top supporters of websites that promote pirated content, according to a new study, which says the two Internet giants’ online advertisements help fund them.
Both Google and Yahoo—who were ranked second and sixth, respectively, by the Annenberg Innovation Lab of University of Southern California’s study—have both supported anti-piracy measures to demote search results.
Researchers at USC used Google’s Transparency Report, finding that Google and its Double Click advertisements were found on many of the world’s top pirate sites.
It also cited another study that was funded by Google and PRS for Music, which found that ad networks financed 86 percent of peer-to-peer search sites that include pirated content, including music and movies.
The study said that major advertisers “clearly … are not aware that they are, in fact, the key source of funds for the piracy industry.”
Pasadena, California-based OpenX was ranked No. 1 in the study.
Google said that while it has not viewed the study, it denies it is a major funder of pirate sites.
“Over the past several years, we’ve taken a leadership role in this fight, partnering with industry organizations to cut off the flow of money to piracy sites, as well as investing significant time and money to keep copyright-infringing content out of our network,” Google told the E-Commerce Times.
“The complexity of online advertising has led some to conclude, incorrectly, that the mere presence of any Google code on a site means financial support from Google.”
Yahoo has not yet issued any public statements to the media about the study.
Chris Castle, a lawyer based in Texas, told the Los Angeles Times that “if you look at IsoHunt right now … you’ll see advertising from the top brands in the world.” IsoHunt is a torrenting site that features pirated content, including music, movies, television shows, and games.
“These brands are just perpetuating the people who are stealing from [the artist], and making them rich,” he added.
The study was headed by Jonathan Taplin, who heads the Annenberg Innovation Lab and hopes the study will allow ad firms to make informed decisions about which sites should feature their advertisements.
“All musicians know … why their incomes have plummeted,” Taplin told the Los Angeles Times. “Everyone knows piracy has destroyed the music business.”
The study’s top-10 list goes as follows:
2. Google (including Double Click)
6. Yahoo (including Right Media)
8. Media Shakers
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