ADWEEK : “Ad Industry Takes Major Step to Fight Online Piracy”… Again…

Stop me, oh uh, stop me, if you think you’ve heard this one before…

The advertising industry took a major step Thursday in fighting rogue websites that steal copyrighted material and sell counterfeit goods. To cut off the financial support that keeps rogue sites alive, the nation’s two major ad industry associations recommended agencies and marketers take steps to keep brands’ ads off those sites.

While the debate remains contentious, there has been universal agreement that the key to shutting down rogue websites was to cut off the money that keeps them alive.

Recognizing advertising was the first line of attack, GroupM last year became the first ad shop to adopt a comprehensive anti-piracy policy, compiling last summer an updatable black list of some 2,000 websites that are cut off from ads from blue-chip clients like Ford, AT&T, Unilever and Dell.

READ THE ABOVE FULL ARTICLE HERE AT ADWEEK:
http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/ad-industry-takes-major-step-fight-online-piracy-140014

So the above is from May 3, 2013… and here’s an insightful article below from the advertising trade publication CLICKZ.COM on April 18, 2011… Yes, 2011…

What is the purpose of me bringing this up? To raise awareness and perhaps ask publicly that those involved in this industry become better corporate citizens. If you are running one of those exchanges or networks and feel that it’s only a “transparency” issue, please consider that you are funding not only these websites but organized criminal organizations that run them.

This is not a victimless crime, but instead one that is affecting musicians, programmers, artists, designers – and businesses of all sizes.

As an industry, here are some suggestions of what we can do:

1. Ensure every network that you work with has a no-warez/piracy/torrent policy. Ask around about the networks that do support this. Even if they claim that your ads aren’t going on there, be aware that many of these networks aren’t honest.

2. Put pressure on exchanges that you work with to ensure no network that has this type of inventory is on that exchange. If a few agencies call the exchanges and make it clear they won’t buy media until they are assured these sites are completely off the exchange, then maybe those in charge will consider it a serious issue.

3. Refuse to pay networks that you discover violate this policy and show your advertisements on those sites. Make it clear that you find this behavior not only illegal, but unacceptable for your agency, network, or product.

YOU CAN READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE (FROM 2011) AT CLICKZ:
http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2041366/advertising-networks-supporting-piracy

Accountability?
Responsibility?
Transparency?
Anyone?
Hello?

Dear American Express: Stop advertising on sites that illegally exploit my music.

Dear American Express:

I write you today to ask why your ads are appearing on top rogue sites such as http://www.filestube.com? Sites like these are for-profit enterprise level organizations often with ties to organized crime. Sites like these appear to profit by illegally exploiting artists copyrights and monetizing their web traffic through advertising. Yes, advertising bought and paid for by American Express.

This is not an obscure site. Its Alexa ranking shows that it is one of the most popular websites in the world. I realize that you probably did not intend to have your ads appear on this site. However, I still hold you accountable for not properly auditing your advertising agency  Olgilvy & Mather  and your ad network DoubleClick. It should be noted that this site also links to some pretty prurient, possibly illegal videos; it’s entirely possible that I won’t be the only one holding you accountable.

I’m told that advertising agencies often hire companies to verify that their clients’ ads are being served to the approved websites. I am here to tell you that from what I have seen, these services are incompetent or worse. We have plenty of screenshots and source code showing major brands that surely use these services, advertising on illegal sites. (We’d be glad to share some of these screenshots and source code with you.)

Here are screenshots that show an American Express advertisement on http://www.filestube.com apparently served by DoubleClick. This isn’t abstract to me–this page is a link to an illegal download of one of my songs. You should also note some of the other “suggested” searches on this same site are for some pretty nasty stuff.  I don’t like having my brand seen in these places and I’m sure you don’t either.

I suggest you do something I can’t do–audit everyone involved in this process . What’s the worse thing that could happen? Your brand not appearing on sketchy sites next to links to pornography?

Now that’s priceless.

Dead Kennedys Exploited by Charter, Blizzard, @AlaskaAir and @1800Flowers

Music Piracy is not about fans sharing music. As we can see from the screen shots below this truly appears to be a mass scale, enterprise level, organized crime being funded by advertising dollars funded by major brands and companies laundered through online ad networks.

CORPORATE RELATIONS CONTACT INFO:

Alaska Airlines
Maria Koenig
maria.koenig@alaskaair.com
https://twitter.com/AlaskaAir
1-206-392-5101

1-800-Flowers
Elizabeth Castoro
ecastoro@1800flowers.com
https://twitter.com/1800flowers
1-516-237 4867

Mullets, Platform Shoes, Mack Daddies and Public Knowledge

Written by Chris Castle

“[W]hen it comes to the internet, there’s always someone in the middle, especially when it comes to handling the money.” Wired Magazine

Call me cynical, but I always keep an eye on Friday afternoon press releases–Friday afternoons are the great graveyard of bad news.

Google announced on August 10 (Friday) that they are doing something I understand they have been doing increasingly over the last few months: Pushing sites down in search results if Google gets a lot of takedown notices for those sites.  (This is a version of what Google promised to content licensors for Google Video–and of course no one believed them like you don’t believe a street drunk that they’re really going to buy food with your $5.)

Remember–Google has announced in its rather untransparent Transparency Report that it gets millions–millions–of takedown notices annually.  A Google lobbyist told the House Judiciary Committee that Google had “processed” five million DMCA notices as of November 2011 and had “processed” over three million in 2010.  (As usual, Google doesn’t use a good verb like “received” instead of the ambiguous “processed”.)

That five million number seems to have taken a big jump, and I doubt it suddenly happened in the last 10 months.  According to the Wall Street Journal, “The company on Friday said it is now receiving more than a million copyright notices related to its search engine per week.”  (When exactly is “now”? Before or after Google’s testimony to the Congress?)

That is on track for over 50 million notices a year for search alone.

Understand this–it is highly likely that every notice Google received was for a link on a page for which Google served–or profited from–at least one ad.  It’s also likely that those ads were from brands to which Google had promised that it would not serve ads on sites with infringing content.  And guess what happens when Google charges an advertiser for serving an ad in violation of its contract with an advertiser.

It’s called a rebate.

If even half of the notices for which Google has received a DMCA notice–bearing in mind that is a US-based remedy–also have advertising served by Google, then Google may well be on the hook for rebates for millions upon millions of ads for years and years and years.  You would never have thought about this rebate exposure if you relied on Google’s investor disclosures.  If Google stockholders want to blame anyone, they should take a close look at whoever did the legal analysis on setting up the Google advertising platform in the first place.  (Hint: He now works at Spotify.)

I would suggest that what is happening is the beginning of something along the lines of the market solution I have advocated  for a long time–a site-based rating system based on the raw number of DMCA notices received.  This would be along the lines of the restaurant rating system that LA County has in place and would provide a useful feedback to the Congress as well as consumers.  Disclose the information to the market and see what happens.  (Of course, Google doesn’t count DMCA notices sent to YouTube or the Blogger cesspools–but that’s another story addressed by Searchengineland.)

Actually giving effect to such a system would be a step toward ending the advertising supported organized crime that is a large part of the “hybrid economy” on the Internet.  Assuming Google really does what they say they will, this announcement may signal the beginning of the end of this dark fashion.

Not surprisingly, we see this press release from Public Knowledge:

For Immediate Release August 10, 2012

Public Knoweldge [sic] Raises Concerns About Changes to Google Search Algorithm

The following statement may be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney:

“It may make good business sense for Google to take extraordinary steps, far beyond what the law requires, to help the media companies it partners with.  That said, its plan to penalize sites that receive DMCA notices raises many questions.

“Sites may not know about, or have the ability to easily challenge, notices sent to Google.  And Google has set up a system that may be abused by bad faith actors who want to suppress their rivals and competitors.  Sites that host a lot of content, or are very popular, may receive a disproportionate number of notices (which are mere accusations of infringement) without being disproportionately infringing.  And user-generated content sites could be harmed by this change, even though the DMCA was structured to protect them.

“Google needs to make sure this change does not harm Internet users or the Internet ecosystem.”

This might be a faintly interesting comment except for one thing: it’s not.  According to Politico’s reporting:

Google said Friday it has received more than 4.3 million copyright removal requests in the past month — about 97 percent of which are valid. Many of the domains that are targets of the most requests are file-sharing and torrent sites. (emphasis mine)

It’s not surprising that Public Knowledge doesn’t get it.  Companies are increasingly aware that their valuable brands are being trashed by association with all manner of sketchy or outright illegal sites with advertising for illegal drugs, human trafficking, financial products and–yes, copyright infringement, but not just copyright infringement.  This at the same time as Google is trying to get into the mainstream entertainment business with Google Fiber and its various other products.

When fashion turns, it leaves all those people with mullets, platform shoes and superwide ties in the lurch.  A closet full of crap and a brain full of mush, weird hair and no dates.

It’s the economics, stupid.  Who in their right mind could imagine that the world could continue to look this way?  Who would really think that many, many artists and media companies have anything but public and private contempt of the first order for Google?  An ontological level of distrust?

And who would really think that the brands that also court relationships with top athletes, musicians, artists and actors would continue to get ripped off by having their advertising served on millions of unsavory sites.  And guess what–when a big brand picks up the phone, they don’t want to hear about how Google is trying to bust another union or wants every link on every page to be adjudicated an infringer before they take action while reposting disabled links in near real time in the cesspool regions of Blogger.  Google’s excuses have nothing to do with the brands.  If brands don’t want their ads on site X, then the ads won’t go on site X.  End of discussion.  And Internet users will be the better for it.  Unless they’re trying to buy a bride or score some oxy.

And I have to believe that Attorney Bergmayer knows this.  He surely can’t be that sheltered.

Time for a haircut and spring cleaning.

Google offers the Mack Daddy special.
(A version of this post previously appeared on the Music Tech Policy blog)

The Pirate Bay – Top Google Search, No Really…

We can’t make this up. Google started promoting their “Hot Searches” list this week. They rolled it out with a screen shot showing The Pirate Bay at the top of the list of “Hot Searches”. It don’t get no more simple than this folks.

See Also:

* Artist Know They Enemy, Who’s Ripping You Off and How…

* Artist Exploitation Calculator

* Musicians POV: Songwriters: How to find yourselves on pirate lyric sites and what to do about it

* The Wall of Shame Continues: Tell Them If You Do Not Want Your Records and Tours Advertised on Pirate Sites–no @mcdonalds for you

* Nothing Says Freedom Like Getting Away With It: Google Tells Ari Emanuel to Change His Business