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.

LouReedGoogleSearch

LouReedAMEX

LouReedATT

LouReedCHEVY LouReedCHILI'S LouReedLYSOL

LouReedPOTTERYBARN

LouReedGalaxyNexus

LouReedDOMINOS

LouReedNETFLIX

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.

LouReedTPBPORN

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

Zero Dark Thirty, Best Picture Academy Award Nominee, Exploited by AT&T, Verizon, MetroPCS, Nissan, H&R Block, British Airways, Progresso, and more…

We spend most of our time here focused on artists rights as it applies to music and musicians. But we wanted to see if the film industry was having the same challenges as music. We believe in the rights of all creators to consent and compensation for their work (ethical internet principles numbers two and four, respectively).

With the upcoming Academy Awards we wondered if it would be possible to find pirated versions of Zero Dark Thirty. It is  the most talked about film of the year which is nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture. But it could easily be any of the other nominated films, in any of the categories as well. We just picked Zero Dark Thirty. It’s also been widely reported that most of the nominated films have already been pirated and are online.

We were also curious what major brands might be supporting that piracy, and if any of those same brands might have advertising that appears on the broadcast of  The Academy Awards show itself. We would hope the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would be able to educate the various brands, advertising agencies and online ad networks about the damage they are doing to the creative community.

What makes this even more frustrating in the case of Zero Dark Thirty is that the film is not even out of theaters yet. At least with music, it is usually (usually…) commercially available before it is pirated.

Here’s what we found within a few minutes, on just two sites…

* AT&T on 4Shared
* AT&T on Pastebin
* British Airways on 4Shared
* H&R Block on 4Shared
* MetroPCS on 4Shared
* Nissan on 4Shared
* Progresso on 4Shared
* Turbo Tax on 4Shared
* Verizon on Pastebin

ZDT_ATTT

ZDT_Pastebin

ZDT_BAZDT_H&RBlockZDT_metroPCSZDT_NIssanZDT_ProgressoTTZDT_Verizon

That’s just a couple sites to download the movie for free. What’s more common amongst film piracy are the faux subscription services that charge annual membership fee’s to stream all of their pirated movies (so much for information wants to be free, but movie want to be paid for…).

Here’s just one example where you can pay on a transactional basis of $.75 to stream the film or between $1.43 or $2.18 to download the film of varying quality.

ZDT_movieberry

So much for “Free Culture.” As it turns out there’s probably very little online piracy happening without money changing hands somewhere in the value chain. The money may be in advertising, or it may be in transactional or subscription fees, but one thing is for sure, people are getting paid and not paying the creators.

In the case of the above, and as we also asked did MegaVideo Charge for Streaming Movies the problem here is to address those processing payments such as American Express, Visa, Master Card and the various other banks such as Citi Bank and Wells Fargo (whom have also been seen advertising on pirate sites). At least PayPal is taking responsibility and denying service to pirate sites. That thanks largely to the good work being done by StopFileLockers.

We found a couple of things of interest as well regarding Google’s search. Despite there being (we’re guessing conservatively) literally thousands of DMCA notices to remove the film from search, The Pirate Bay still ranks #3 on the first page of search results! Surely Google as well as everyone else in the world knows the site was found guilty and it’s founders sent to jail. Yet Google has not delisted the site from search in it’s entirety which would be the right thing to do, knowing that the judgement against The Pirate Bay was upheld even by the Supreme Court of Sweden.

ZDT_GoogleSearch

Of course a quick scroll down the page and the delisted link removal notices start to appear as follows:

In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at ChillingEffects.org.

ZDT_DMCA_GoogleCjill

Now why exactly is there a need, once a link has been delisted to post a notice to a site that then shows that very same link that had been lawfully delisted from Google search by the DMCA? In the screen shot below are shown just the first forty delisted links, but on that one notice alone there are over three hundred delisted links to pirated copies of Zero Dark Thirty in one way or another.

ZDT_CEpg1

Make no mistake about it, every one of those previously delisted links is still active on the servers where it originated and it can simply be copied and pasted back into any web browser.

Further more, these links have been delisted due to the fact that most if not all of these infringing sites are not based in the United States and do not conform to United States law and therefore do not comply with the DMCA itself.

Is this all just a cat and mouse game for Google to profit from piracy? Draw your own conclusions.

Grammy Award Nominated Black Keys Exploited by… American Express Delta Airlines Card, AT&T, Dish Network, M&M’s (Mars), Nissan and others…

The Black Keys have been very vocal about their opposition to the payment and revenue models of new streaming services like Spotify, but we wonder how the band will feel when seeing their music generating ad revenue for commercial level infringing websites like Filestube, Mp3 Twister, Share Beast and Mp3 Boo all as from a simple Google Search.

We also wonder if any of these brands will be advertising during the Grammy Awards for which the band is nominated for Best Album. These are major brands such as American Express, Delta Airlines, Dish Network, Nissan and M&Ms. All of whom we’ve seen running television advertising campaigns for their products and services.

Here’s a quick look at a random sampling of sites from searching Google. This is despite what might be hundreds or more likely thousands of delisted links from legitimate DMCA notices. Mind Boggling…

American Express Delta Airlines Card on Mp3 Twister
AT&T on Mp3 Twister
Dish Network on Mp3 Twister
M&M’s (Mars) on Share Beast
Nissan on Mp3 Boo
Movie 43 (Relativity Media) on Mp3 Boo
Exposed Webcams on FilesTube

googleblackkeystorrents

Despite the amount of delisted links, presumably to the largest infringers, the pirate bay can still top the search results listed. Also interesting is that the reach of the ad networks seems to go very deep into a long tail of very dispersed infringing sites like Mp3 twister. It appears that as brands and agencies are learning of their ads appearing on infringing and illegal sites, the ads are starting to migrate down stream to perhaps previously less visited sites.

bk_mp3twisterAMEXDELTA

bk_mp3twisterATT

bk_mp3twisterDISH

bk_sharebeastMMS

bk_mp3booNISSAN

bk_mp3booMovie43

What is disturbing about the ad above for Movie 43 on Mp3 Boo is that it is for a film by Relativity Media, a Hollywood film production and distribution company. It’s entirely possible if we looked for this film it may already be leaked and pirated, and if not, most certainly will be within hours on the day it is theatrically released.

bk_filestuneEXPOSEDWEBCAMS

Also of interest in this batch are the porn site ads on FilesTube. Isn’t this some kind of public safety issue that minors under 18 years of age who are visiting these infringing sites to get free music illegally are being exposed to pornographers showing girls who are barely legal themselves at just 18 years old?

Is this really acceptable to our representatives on Capital Hill?

Billy Corgan Exploited By… Citi Bank, AT&T, Target, Virgin Atlantic, Mazda, Neiman Marcus, Musicians Friend, Hertz, BMW, Audi, Boston Market, Urban Outfitters, Williams Sonoma

At SXSW in 2012 Billy Corgan shared his thoughts about the music business from his perspective, including his thoughts that you can’t really make money in the music business anymore. Billy is probably right that musicians can’t really make money in the music business anymore, but it appears there is plenty of money being made by internet sites dedicated to infringement as well as the ad networks and payment processors who allow the sites to profit from the musicians work.

Surely these advertisements are not appearing without being paid for, and there actually is money is being paid to finance and support the operation of major piracy sites (as reported by Google’s own transparency report). What’s worse is that the money financing these major piracy sites ripping off artists and creators are being paid by well know major consumer brands and corporations. See below…

Citi Bank – 4Shared
AT&T – 4Shared
AT&T – Mp3Skull
Target – Mp3Skull
Virgin Atlantic – IsoHunt
Mazda – Mp3Raid
Neiman Marcus – Mp3Skull
Hyundai – Mp3Skull
Musicians Friend – 4Shared
Hertz Rent A Car – 4Shared
BMW – 4Shared
Audi – Mp3Skull
Boston Market – 4Shared
Urban Outfitters – 4Shared
Williams Sonoma – IsoHunt

SP_4sharedAudioCitiATT

SP_ATTTargetMP3Skull

SP_ishunt_VirginAtlantic

SP_mazdapumpkinsmp3raid

SP_mp3skullHyndai

SP_MusiciansHertsBMW

SP_pumpkinsAudioMp3Skull

SP_UrbanOutFitters4Shared

SP_WilliamsSonomaIsoHunt

U2 Exploited by United Airlines, Jet Blue, HP, State Farm, Westin, Urban Outfitters, Sprint, AT&T, Amazon, Disney Resorts, Crate and Barrel

We completely agree with what Bono said in USA Today,

“…somebody should fight for fellow artists, because this is madness. Music has become tap water, a utility, where for me it’s a sacred thing, so I’m a little offended. The Internet has emasculated rather than liberated artists…”

We couldn’t agree more and we’ve been happy to see more artists speaking out publicly.

The situation is effecting artists at all levels like Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Talib Kweli, Ben Gibbard and Death Cab For Cutie, Jared Leto and 30 Seconds to Mars, Neil Young and Tom Waits to name just a few. These artists represent a wide spectrum of diversity and all are effected by the illegal exploitation of their work.

Let’s be clear about this. It’s about money. A lot of advertising money supporting the people ripping off artists to further their own wealth. Brands hire advertising agencies. Advertising agencies hire ad networks. Ad networks pay infringing and illegally operating sites, many of which are based outside of the USA.

Bono, here’s your haul for one nights research… Someone should have a talking to these brands and ad networks, will you join us on Madison Avenue?

* United Airlines x2 on h33t
* United Airlines on mp3 bear
* United Airlines on FilesTube
* Jet Blue and Kayak on h33t
* Hewlett Packard and State Farm on mp3skull
* Westin Hotels on 4shared
* Westin Hotels on mp3raid
* Urban Outfitters on mp3skull
* Sheraton Hotels on mp3skull
* Century 21 on 4shared
* Alaska Airlines on torrent reactor
* State Farm on torrent reactor
* Sprint on torrrent reactor
* Sheraton Hotels on 4shared
* Hewlett Packard x2 on filestube
* Hewlett Packard and State Farm on mp3skull
* Hewlett Packard on h33t
* Rejuvenation on filestube
* Disney Resorts on torrent reactor
* Crate & Barrel on Files Tube
* Charter Cable on mp3 raid
* AT&T on mp3skull
* Amazon on 4shared

U2 Exploited by @UnitedAirlines, @JetBlue, @HP, @StateFarm, @Westin, @UrbanOutfitters, @sprint, @ATT, @amazon, @Disneyland, @CrateandBarrel

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Neil Young Exploited by Ford, Cooper Mini, Target, State Farm, Adobe, Alaska Air, ATT, Boy Scouts, DIRECTV, LG, Princess Cruises, HP, Westin, Charmin, RapidShare

Neil Young Exploited… We’re Speechless… The impressive list below is just scratching the surface, or the tip of the iceberg. The only question to ask is…

How much money have these brands paid these ad networks, which ultimately is collected by these actively infringing sites, to profit from the music and career of Neil Young?

* Ford, Cooper (BMW), Target on FilesTube
* Target on Kick Ass Torrents
* State Farm on Torrent Reactor
* State Farm on Iso Hunt
* State Farm (X2) on Kick Ass Torrents
* Adobe on Torrent Reactor
* Adobe, Legal Zoom on Iso Hunt
* Adobe on Kick Ass Torrents
* Alaska Air on Iso Hunt
* Alaska Air on Kick Ass Torrents
* AT&T on Kick Ass Torrents
* Boy Scouts on Torrent Reactor
* Direct TV on Kick Ass Torrents
* Ebay on Kick Ass Torrents
* Hewlett Packard on Files Tube
* LG, Princess Cruises on Files Tube
* Westin Hotels on Kick Ass Torrents
* Charmin Toilet Paper on Iso Hunt

And, let’s be honest… What artist doesn’t want to be associated with Charmin Toilet Paper?

Neil Young Exploited by … @Ford, @CooperMiniLtd, @Target, @StateFarm, @Adobe, @AlaskaAir, @ATT, @boyscouts, @DIRECTV, @LGUSAMobile, @PrincessCruises, @HP, @Westin, @Charmin, @RapidShare@RapidShare

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Death Cab For Cutie Exploited by Google, Target, AT&T, Ford, Urban Outfitters, United Airlines, Rejuvenation and Crate and Barrel

Google was right. This is a follow the money story. As reported by PC Pro Magazine, Google says,

“Instead of imposing blocks or filters that might damage fundamental freedoms, governments should construct coalitions with reputable advertising networks, payment processors and rightsholders. Together, these coalitions can crack down and squeeze the financing behind online infringement.”

We’d like to think that Google themselves would be one of the “reputable advertising networks.” As pictured below, Google appears to be not just the ad network serving the ad, but also the brand buying the advertising for it’s product, Google Advertising. Needless to say this is a disappointing find given the recent report.

What’s worse is that major consumer brands are benefiting from having access to the audience (and key demographics) built by individual artists. In this case Death Cab For Cutie who based on the advertisers seems to be a very good demographic indeed supporting ads from Target, SC Johnson and AT&T and that’s just on one site with infringing material.

What incentive is there for brands and advertisers to work with artists and creators to create ad campaigns when the brands can simply “steal” access to the artists audience by paying ad networks to turn a blind eye to sites dedicated to infringing activity?

So far we’ve seen that Google understands, and recommends that advertising networks be accountable to where they are serving ads, despite the fact that Google themselves appears to be still serving ads to sites entirely dedicated to copyright infringement. We’ve also seen above how the music of Ben Gibbard‘s band Death Cab For Cutie is able to draw advertising revenue from Target and AT&T.

Below we see how deep this really goes. By focusing on just FilesTube we can see that Death Cab For Cutie draws advertising revenue to the site from Ford, Urban Outfitters, United Airlines, Rejuvenation and Crate & Barrel. These are all well respected brands, that appeal to a demographic with considerable disposable income. And yet, none of these brands compensate Ben Gibbard, Death Cab For Cutie or any of the various rights holders for access to the bands music and fans.

So yes, this is a follow the money story. When we follow the money it leads to major brands and online advertising networks all profiting from the artists work and paying nothing to the artists. Not one single penny. Zero. Zilch. Nadda. That’s what makes this discussion about free beer, and not free speech as some would like to propose.