Researchers at the University of Southern California say analysis of online ads on sites that receive the most copyright infringement notices puts Google and Yahoo among the top 10 advertising networks that support major piracy sites around the world, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
Google has responded to the report by calling its conclusion "mistaken" while Yahoo did not respond to request for comments, the Times said.
"To the extent (the study) suggests that Google ads are a major source of funds for major pirate sites, we believe it is mistaken," a Google spokesperson said.
The researchers who prepared the reports said they hoped major brands would use the information to make decisions about online ad spending and steer dollars away from sites that exploit film, television and music.
"Whenever we talk to a brand about the fact that their ads are all over the pirate sites, they're like, 'Oh, how did that happen?'" Jonathan Taplin of USC's Annenberg Innovation Lab said. "We thought it would be easier if they knew what ad networks were putting ads on pirate sites -- so they could avoid them."
Ad networks identified as placing ads on the alleged pirate sites includes Openx, a Pasadena company backed by AOL Ventures that describes itself as a leader in digital and mobile ad technology; Google and its advertising platform, DoubleClick; Yahoo and its ad exchange, Right Media; and Quantcast, a San Francisco firm that also places ads on sites owned by such major media companies as NBCUniversal and Viacom, the USC report said.
Another report funded by Google and the Performing Rights Society for Music in Britain found that advertising provides about 86 percent of the financing for file-sharing sites that feature illegally distributed content.