Lou Reed Exploited By American Express, AT&T, Chevrolet, Chili’s, Lysol, Pottery Barn, Vons, Domino’s Pizza, Netflix, Galaxy Nexus and Ron Jeremy!

Here we go again… We can go to Google and within minutes search for an artist of stature such as Lou Reed and quickly find unlicensed and infringing internet businesses exploiting his life’s work illegally while paying the him nothing, zero, zilch, nadda, zippo.

There are many disappointing things about all of this, but the first is that when doing a simple Google search for “Lou Reed Mp3” the first five returns are for illegally operating and infringing sites.

This doesn’t count YouTube which may or may not be infringing, and may or may not actually be paying Lou from the advertising revenue (on this video, in the screen shots below for example). This is all the more troubling because we know that this can be easily filtered if there is the will to do so.

The ad networks have been highlighted in the fantastic work done by Jonathan Taplin in the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab’s Advertising Transparency Reports.

Perhaps most disappointing however is that major companies like American Express, AT&T Chevorlet, Chili’s, Lysol, Pottery Barn, Vons, Domino’s Pizza, Netflix and Galaxy Nexus are still supporting the this exploitation of artists with corporate advertising dollars. These companies not only supply the funding for these sites exploiting artists to exist, but perhaps even worse they add legitimacy to music piracy by lending their brand identity to it.

Clearly there is a lot of money being made in the distribution of music on the internet. Sadly not much of that money (or in this case NONE of it) is being distributed (or uhm, “shared”) with the artists themselves.

In any value chain where the artists work is being distributed and/or exploited for profit, the artist should be included in that value chain.









Not only do we see the major companies supporting these sites but there’s also the scam ads, rip offs and bogus services. And here’s where it gets even uglier…on sites like The Pirate Bay the work of Lou Reed is promoting adult (escort services?) and porn products like the one offered by Ron Jeremy below.


Let us not forget that the above examples represent a drop in the ocean of the over 200,000 infringing sites that Google alone is tracking.

See more Corporate Advertising Funded Exploitation of Artists:
Tom Waits * Neil Young * Aimee Mann * Neko Case * U2 * Ben Gibbard/Death Cab For Cutie * East Bay Ray / Dead Kennedy’s * Billy Corgan/Smashing Pumpkins

Uh Toyota… didn’t you get the memo? Why are you advertising on unauthorized sites that exploit my music?

We recently ran a story about American Express advertising on Filestube, the site that infringes my copyrights while suggesting porno links next to my brand.  The American Express ad was served by Google’s DoubleClick ad network presumably at the behest of Ogilvy & Mather.

Yesterday a Google spokesperson told us that they had disabled “self serve” advertising for this site.  We weren’t really sure if that meant no more DoubleClick on FilesTube, or if it was some kind of semantic dodge. We’ve had a bunch of those dodging semantics on this issue.  However we monitored FilesTube yesterday and we see no sign of DoubleClick.   We applaud Google for taking this action!

Now not to look a gift horse in the mouth but we’d  love to see Google disable advertising for all those sites that they know are infringing copyright. The ones they mentioned in this handy press release. See it seems a little disingenuous to lower these sites rankings but at the same time to continue doing advertising business with them?  (And yes we are already monitoring advertising on these sites!!)

American Express is another matter. We have not heard back from American Express.  We’d love to hear what American Express has to say about their company helping to finance copyright infringement–not just mine, but all of the artists. We’d love to know how that happened and if they intend to continue advertising on these sites. Cause it doesn’t seem like a very good idea for an iconic American Brand.

Now  I’ve lost my handy pocket version of the RICO statute. People are always borrowing it!  But I’m almost certain that it says something about making plans to profit from copyright infringement as a RICO “predicate”.  I’m no lawyer but if I were a big company like American Express I wouldn’t want to get anywhere near a website  that even had the potential to get wrapped up in a RICO investigation.  Especially one based in Moldova.

Today FilesTube looks like a wasteland of QuiBid ads, MacKeeper popups and click shoot ads.  Pretty low grade.  Seems like it’s not just American Express which got the memo.

Toyota however did not get the memo!   So now it’s Toyota’s turn to answer the question?  Why  are you  advertising on this site?

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.