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.