By Chris Castle
And that’s saying a lot. Thanks to first-class investigative reporting by Kristin Robinson at Billboard, the story of what looks to be one of the biggest advertising fraud cases can be told. It involves a whole lot of people looking the other way starting with the boards of directors of Downtown Music (which owns AdRev) and YouTube (which doles out access to Content ID).
This isn’t the first time Google and YouTube have been caught up with shady dealings due to Google being the paymaster of piracy and handing out advertising money which is the mothers milk of online crime. Trichordist readers will recall Maria Schneider’s 2016 post (“YouTube, Pushers of Piracy“) that foreshadowed her 2020 lawsuit against YouTube over the effects of YouTube’s restrictive access to Content ID that is now poised to go to trial.
Trichordist readers will also recall the bad old days of brand sponsored piracy led by Google and Google’s ad serving deal with Megavideo according to the Megavideo indictment in an extradition proceeding that somehow…ahem…has been stalled offshore for ten years by a bottom less pit of legal fees paid for by someone in.a scene worthy of Hieronymus Bosch.
And who can forget Google’s $500,000,000 non prosecution agreement with the DOJ when the Obama Justice Department refused to actually indict Larry Page, Sergei Brin and Eric Schmidt for violating the Controlled Substances Act and even apologized to Google–despite the 4,000,000 documents and who knows how much in person testimony before a Rhode Island grand jury that directly implicated Larry Page and the massive shareholder lawsuit and settlement against Google for squandering the shareholders money keeping the C-suite’s butts out of prison. When questioned about the nonprosecution agreement by Senator John Cornyn before the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, Eric “Uncle Sugar” Schmidt refused to answer on the advice of counsel, often referred to as “taking the Fifth.”
But it is the first time that Downtown has been involved. I have the same question of both companies: Where was the board? The reason we have boards of directors is to protect the shareholders from exactly this kind of thing. In YouTube’s case, they have another layer of fiduciary duty–protecting the advertisers–both large and small–who trust them with billions of the advertisers’ money. Not to mention the children that the platform caters to.
Take the time to read Kristin Robinson’s outstanding journalism and then see if you can answer the question–where were the boards? I think the entire story hasn’t been told.