IsoHunt Court Ruling Notes “Ad Sponsored Piracy”: Exploitation is not Innovation

The 9th Circuit delivers a substantial win for creators in its IsoHunt ruling, as The Copyright Alliance notes in it’s summary which quotes this from the court directly,

“Fung promoted advertising by pointing to infringing activity; obtained advertising revenue that depended on the number of visitors to his sites; attracted primarily visitors who were seeking to engage in infringing activity, as that is mostly what occurred on his sites; and encouraged that infringing activity. Given this confluence of circumstances, Fung’s revenue stream was tied directly to the infringing activity involving his websites, both as to his ability to attract advertisers and as to the amount of revenue he received.”

It would appear that the motives of these for profit businesses are being seen for what they are, nothing more than than the blatant exploitation of artists and creators. It should be recognized that this practice is not unknown within the online advertising/tech business either, as reported by Jack Marshall’s post titled “Why is Ad Tech Still Funding Piracy?” in DigiDay,

Visit the top torrent search engines, and you’ll find ad calls from Yahoo, Google, Turn, Zedo, RocketFuel, AdRoll, CPX Interactive and others. These sites exist to connect people with illegal downloads of intellectual property, a practice that’s estimated to cost the U.S. economy $20 billion in the movie industry alone. No matter your feelings about U.S. copyright laws, they are laws, and there’s no doubt these sites facilitate illegal behavior, even if they don’t house the content themselves. The oxygen that sustains many of these sites is advertising, delivered by the vast archipelago of the ad tech industry.

According to AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, it’s an easy problem to fix, but ad companies are attracted by the revenue torrent sites can generate for them. Kelley said his company refuses to serve ads to torrent sites and other sites facilitating the distribution of pirated content. It’s easy to do technically, he said, but others refuse to do it.

“We want everyone to technically stop their customers from advertising on these sites, but there’s a financial incentive to keep doing so,” he said. “Companies that aren’t taking a stand against this are making a lot of money.”

If you want to see more examples of Ad Sponsored Piracy in action, see our post, “Over 50 Major Brands Supporting Music Piracy, It’s Big Business!” Mainstream awareness of the subject has been growing due in part  by the work being done by the Annenberg Innovation Lab which has been reported in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times earlier this year. And The Wall Street Journal also reported on the role of advertising in its reporting of wider ranging issues facing creators battling online piracy,

Another focus is online-ad networks, which media companies say help finance piracy by placing ads on sites that traffic in unauthorized content. A study last summer, commissioned in part by Google, found that 86% of peer-to-peer sharing sites are dependent on advertising for income.

As more awareness builds, the truth becomes plain to see and painfully obvious. Unfortunately there are still those in the tech blogosphere who like to defend businesses exploiting artists and claiming that this is a non-issue making statements like, “internet display ads pay next to nothing.” This remark seems to be a direct contradiction with the statement by the very knowledgeable AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, who above stated, “Companies that aren’t taking a stand against this are making a lot of money.”

Bottom Line: Exploitation is not Innovation.