Three weeks after Google took a step to cut off advertising funding to web sites that deal with pirated content, two other parties have also signaled their interest in working with the entertainment industry. These developments give momentum to efforts by content owners and lawmakers to shut down rogue web sites that offer free downloads and streams.
Lobbyists working for Mastercard have told trade groups the company is supportive of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), according to a report by CNET. COICA would authorize the Department of Justice to seize the domain names of web sites "dedicated to infringing activities." It was introduced in September by Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some sites that facilitate piracy raise revenue through credit card payments for services (such as extra online storage at online locker sites).
In addition, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group with 460 media and technology companies that account for 86% of online advertising in the U.S., told CNET it wants to work with the entertainment industry and Congress to cut off funding of web sites that deal with piracy.
The involvement of Mastercard and online advertisers in the battle against online piracy reveals the entertainment industry's changing tactics. Lawsuits against consumers raised awareness of the subject of piracy but probably had little to no effect on illegal downloading and sharing. Targeting ISPs and university networks is likely to have more of a practical impact. But those efforts target the demand side of piracy, and trade groups like the RIAA and MPAA are clearly interested in doing more.
New efforts to cut off revenue from sites that deal with pirated material deal with the supply side of the issue. Removing the sites' source of funding would suffocate these operations. Already the entertainment industry is making some headway. In early December, Google announced it tightened its policies regarding the AdSense program in which many rogue sites are members.