Yesterday, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) took a positive step toward combating rogue websites that peddle pirated and counterfeit products and content. The industry leaders reached an agreement that encourages marketers to avoid advertising on “rogue” sites dedicated to stealing others’ intellectual property.

In the Statement of Best Practices, the groups were very clear about the spirit of the agreement:

[We] should not knowingly allow our businesses and brands to supply financial life-blood or lend a veneer of legitimacy to fundamentally illicit business models that threaten the jobs of millions of Americans in the creative industries and, ultimately, our national economic welfare.

Bob Liodice, president of the Association of National Advertisers, said the best practices seek to ensure advertisements don’t give undue legitimacy to sites that promote illegal content:

Marketers must have confidence that their ads are not unintentionally providing financial support or otherwise legitimizing “rogue” Internet websites whose primary purpose is to steal the intellectual property of America’s innovators and creators.

Nancy Hill, President-CEO of 4A’s described the problem of rogue websites in terms of basic fairness:

The deceptive practices of these “rogue” websites are unfair both to consumers and the companies that invest vast resources to establish brand integrity. Combating online piracy and counterfeiting is a key priority for the entire business community and we look forward to continuing to work with the White House, Congress and all of our industry partners on this important issue.

The advertising groups also emphasized that the best practices are not intended to target “legitimate social media or user-generated content sites, even if infringing content occasionally appears on such sites.”

While not a panacea that wipes away the problem of content theft and the threat it poses to the creative community, this agreement is a step in the right direction and should be applauded.