Levi’s Was First. Now, Several Major Brands Want to Pull Their Pirate Site Advertising…

It’s amazing how quickly major brands will react when public perception is on the line.  Which is exactly what’s happening here: less than a week after releasing its first report on the level of major brand advertising on pirate sites, researchers at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab are starting to get phone calls.  “Since the [first] report was issued [on January 3rd], numerous brands have reached out to the Lab to find out how to effectively pull their ads from pirate sites,” a researcher told Digital Music News.

That follows a sharp and decisive move from Levi’s, a brand that simply contacted their advertising agency to figure out an immediate removal plan.

uhoh

But who are these other major brands, exactly?  Right now, names are being kept quiet while complex teardown discussions take place.  According to the Lab’s report, brands are frequently unaware that their high-priced banners are running alongside unauthorized torrent, lyrics, or mp3 sites (though we’re guessing their ad agencies are a bit more knowledgeable.)

Either way, the near-term future could feature a number of high-profile pullouts, with Levi’s representing the first domino.  That would be tremendously gratifying for Annenberg Innovation Lab director and professor Jonathan Taplin, who’s really on the first onion layer here.

But why is this happening now, some fifteen odd years after the onset of smalltime mp3 sites?  Perhaps major labels should stop paying millions to the RIAA and hand the reins over to guys like David Lowery — that is, if it’s not too late.  But this also speaks volumes on the complexity of modern-day online advertising, and the tendency of ad-delivery networks and Google to use that complexity to their obfuscating advantage.

Which is exactly the point of the USC Annenberg research effort.  Which brings us to Exhibit A, a map of all sorts of connections that Google (and others) would rather leave un-diagrammed and undiscussed.  “This serves as an alternative way to conceptualize the data at the heart of the examination,” the research group relayed.

 

piracyadnetworks

46 Responses

  1. Visitor
    Visitor

    “Since the [first] report was issued [on January 3rd], numerous brands have reached out to the Lab to find out how to effectively pull their ads from pirate sites”
    Beautiful!

    Reply
  2. FarePlay
    FarePlay

    Last Spring, I had the priviledge of taking part in discussions with members of the Trichordist Team regarding our options for attacking online piracy.
    We all agreed that going after revenue by exposing their advertisers was the way to go and as their research has confirmed many high profile, “public opinion sensitive” fortune 500 companies have been involved. I think Don Henly would refer to this as “Dirty Laundry”.
    For a partial list, including screen shots from illegal sites, simply go to The Trichordist and Music-Technology-Policy to see how artists like Neil Young, Aimee Mann, Tom Waits and others have had “advertiser supported” illegal file-sharing sites offering their music as “free” downloads.
    There is something fundamentally broken if we live in a society that has such little regard for music, film, art, literature and photography, while we worship at the alter of progress and profitability.
    Creative work is not “digital road kill”, but rather the fuel that drives traffic to the internet.
    Will Buckley, founder, FarePlay

    Reply
          • FarePlay
            FarePlay

            Obviously, we’re creating the possibility for change. What are you up to Jeff?
            How would you like to contribute to this conversation?

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “creating the possibility for change”
            You need a pair of skinny jeans and instagram style pictures of yourself acting “intellectchooal(sic)” to complete the effect.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “I’m still not clear on what you guys do”
            And I’m not sure what you expect people to do for free in their spare time.
            What we need is a union. But we’re not going to get it for free.
            Perhaps we should consider paying the guys who help us fight piracy, so they can build the necessary infrastructure?

        • Visitor
          Visitor

          Hey let me you on a secret. Huffington Post is a blog. Your are not special for being “published” on it. Ironically, you are being exploited in the very same manner that you rail against, since HuffPost famously doesn’t pay its contributors anything.

          Reply
          • FarePlay
            FarePlay

            Visitor, you are exhibiting the same convoluted logic that has gotten us into this problem to begin with.
            The Huffington Post is not using me. I, and this is the really important part, chose to provide my work for free to The Huffington Post. Choice being the key CONCEPT.
            If the Huffington Post copied and pasted a post from my blog on their site without asking me for permission, I have a problem with that.
            Also, I do not consider myself “special”. Even though I choose to pay for music, films and books, I don’t consider that “special”. I consider that to be the action of anyone who appreciates and respects the work of others. And not just music, film and literature, anyone’s work.
            While we’re at, why don’t you tell us what you do and why you feel entitled to confront me personally.
            Sincerely, Will Buckley, founder FarePlay

          • FarePlay
            FarePlay

            Streaming and especially shared playlists in the cloud are creating significant challenges for musicians.
            The combination of low, low payouts with the resulting elimination of paid downloads and cd sales does not bode well for musicians.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            And you think nothing of the Writer’s Union various struggles against Huffington Post? It’s worth noting that Spotify actually pays something, Huffington Post pays nothing.

    • Visitor
      Visitor

      lets see how they actually do…
      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
      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

      Reply
  3. FarePlay
    FarePlay

    Well the tech police were out earlier looking for nefarious connections, but I’m afarid we’re just a family of people who love music and hate to see people get hurt.
    Especially, hard working people whose job it is to create and bring some joy when times are dark. Always love the story about Springsteen crusing Asbury Park after 9/11 and a stranger pulls up, rolls own his window and says, “We need you Bruce”.
    And he responds by crafting the masterpiece “The Rising”.
    What’s so important about this post and what just happened? It changes the conversation and draws attention to the fact that online piracy is a business. The business of ripping off people’s work.
    Forget the free speech argument, forget the touring-t-shirt argument, forget the record labels screw the artist argument.
    Its’ just like David Lowery said, “The new boss is just like the old boss” only worse.

    Reply
  4. Adam Smith
    Adam Smith

    I’m wanting this to work in the worst way. I’m also just a little skeptical, but some of that could just be my natural cynicism 😉
    If it DOESN’T work, i wonder how long it will take for the idea of a long term (like 10-15 years) strike by all content creators to take hold of ALL content creators worldwide. Of course, I don’t mean we would stop creating…just stop publishing. Why should we go down alone. Take the listening/stealing public with us into musical never-never land. The well won’t dry up immediately, and for 5-8 years or so, they would just keep trolling through un-listened to files on their servers, feeding them into archives for use in commercials that are selling the next big mp3 players/iphones/tablets. They will play the CRAP out of everything that is left, that isn’t nailed down. Then create “remix #23” of whichever really catches on, and it may take longer than 5-8 years. Maybe 10-15. Within that time of course, they would probably dig through 3rd world countries for talent they they find basketball players, which may extend it for a while longer. Of course, I’m thinking BIG picture here. I’m sure theres a lot of folks here that would say..’it just won’t work!’. I think it would. It would just require an amazingly huge group effort.

    Reply
      • Adam Smith
        Adam Smith

        We may have to pursue another line of work in order to make it stick. I didn’t say it would be easy. It’ll be really hard for many of us…unless we really do find either a crappy job to hold us over, or even a decent job. I admit, part of what makes it a scary, but maybe necessary strike, is the notion of sacrifice. Do I personally beleive in what we do strongly enough to fall on the sword for it, maybe even watching my ‘so called best years’ pass my by in the interum? If I saw enough of the better known artists pushing the idea, and sticking to it, absolutely. At least my kids, or friends kids, or whichever of my own family’s kids (i do mean the ones with real talent of course) inherit a better deal. Some might say, “oh, screw those kids, i want this to happen NOW!” Cool. We have to keep hacking away at this, figuring out how to help force this issue. It’s not going to just going away.

        Reply
        • Visitor
          Visitor

          Unions really work well when they have a monopoly on the industry. I don’t think it’ll work because there are many musicians out there who have no problem with piracy or giving away their work for free. The barrier of entry to becoming a musician is also impossible to control, compared to lets say a longshoreman (where you basically have to have union approval to be employed).
          There is also the problem that stoping to make music won’t make all the music already made go away either. So even if you managed to get all the musicians onboard, it won’t stop the hundreds of millions of tracks out there from being traded. Compare to like when longshoreman strike, if they strike long enough they can totally cripple the encomy so they have a lot of leverge there with strike threats. They don’t need to strike for years, a single day is a huge problem.

          Reply
          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “there are many musicians out there who have no problem with piracy”
            Let’s get this right:

            HOBBYISTS don’t care about piracy. They have other sources of income, and nobody except their friends and families are interested in their music.

            PROFESSIONAL MUSICIANS do have serious problems with piracy (unless they work live only). If they tell you anything else, they lie…

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            The distinction is pointless. It’s not like when someone encounters some music they are like, let me check if this artist has a professional music license. Oh he doesn’t? Well then I won’t listen to his music.
            The fact that there exists people who produce music and don’t care to be paid is a big problem for people who do. We don’t see that in almost any other industry. It’s insane.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “It’s not like when someone encounters some music they are like, let me check if this artist has a professional music license. Oh he doesn’t? Well then I won’t listen to his music.”
            That’s not how it works.
            Most hobbyist music just sucks. You know that. That’s why you don’t want to hear it.
            And it sucks because the hobbyist doesn’t have the skills, determination, gear and time. Simple…

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            Hobbyist music isn’t even music, it’s noise.. the only good music out there are from professionals.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            Nobody’s saying that. It’s awesome that hobbyists sing and play and whatever in their spare time.
            It’s just not the kind of music consumers would buy — ever.
            We all want music and movies created by professional artists.
            Goes for pirates, too

    • observer
      observer

      If the decline continues at the current rate for another five years there will be no financial reason to release music anyway. At that point you if you can convince musicians to stop donating their hard work to Silicon Valley, you will effectively have the strike you are proposing.

      In any other industry we would have gone on strike years ago. We can’t win by bending over and waiting for it to end.

      Reply
      • Adam Smith
        Adam Smith

        Regarding @Observers post: “If the decline continues at the current rate for another five years…” Yes. Exactly. To the fellow who quipped “sure if you’ll pay my rent…” You’ll have to find another job anyway. As a huge industrywide, worldwide strike it would need time to gather steam. It could even start with An Open Letter to the Music Lovers of the World…and the Freehadists, Pirates, Ad Agencies, Eric Schmidt (Google), Yahoo, all of the already named names. If you don’t stop this shit by such and such date, we are pulling the plug. Since you decided to oppose PIPA SOPA, etc, we are going on permanent blackout until all you have left for pop music is Bieber’s 1st and 2nd album, over and over until your head explodes.
        Now, the previously floated bills SOPA, and its reincarnations, had flaws that could have been abused, it may have to be resignation on their part before it would really work. Once we have them over the barrel, we would need to be kind enough not to rape them the way they have done to us. Just get things back to ‘happy productive artists are motivated to publish because of the return on their personal investment on their creative work’. Period. I love this site, but it’s easy to tell when silicon valley shills interupt the conversation. You can also find me on FB and Google + Adam C Smith, Houston Texas. Thanks for listening. If we all connect, we can do this deal.

        Reply
      • Visitor
        Visitor

        “In any other industry we would have gone on strike years ago. We can’t win by bending over and waiting for it to end.”
        What we need is a union with one purpose:
        To stop piracy.

        Reply
        • Adam Smith
          Adam Smith

          Regarding @Observers post: “If the decline continues at the current rate for another five years…” Yes. Exactly. To the fellow who quipped “sure if you’ll pay my rent…” You’ll have to find another job anyway. As a huge industrywide, worldwide strike it would need time to gather steam. It could even start with An Open Letter to the Music Lovers of the World…and the Freehadists, Pirates, Ad Agencies, Eric Schmidt (Google), Yahoo, all of the already named names. If you don’t stop this shit by such and such date, we are pulling the plug. Since you decided to oppose PIPA SOPA, etc, we are going on permanent blackout until all you have left for pop music is Bieber’s 1st and 2nd album, over and over until your head explodes.
          Now, the previously floated bills SOPA, and its reincarnations, had flaws that could have been abused, it may have to be resignation on their part before it would really work. Once we have them over the barrel, we would need to be kind enough not to rape them the way they have done to us. Just get things back to ‘happy productive artists are motivated to publish because of the return on their personal investment on their creative work’. Period. I love this site, but it’s easy to tell when silicon valley shills interupt the conversation. You can also find me on FB and Google + Adam C Smith, Houston Texas. Thanks for listening. If we all connect, we can do this deal.

          Reply
        • FarePlay
          FarePlay

          Piracy isn’t the only problem. If musicians don’t unite and speak out for their rights, there will be no more music business.

          Reply
          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “Piracy isn’t the only problem”
            I agree with you on most things, but mainstream piracy is indeed the only problem that matters in the industry today.
            Yet, it isn’t seriously addressed by any organization. This is an absurd situation.
            Solve the problem, and you’ll see a new golden age of art.
            (Won’t harm our global economy, either.)

  5. AudioLock
    AudioLock

    We as part of a partnership actually already offer a product which allows brands to filter the advertising to avoid all piracy sites. This is a dynamic system which continually updates and rechecks sites. We also already offer a system to alert brands when their logos or adverts appear on sites who infringe copyrights. So there are already solutions out there it is just that brands are being hung out to dry in the press for supporting piracy.
    Ben Rush CEO AudioLock.NET

    Reply
    • Fareplay
      Fareplay

      Ben, this statement makes no sense.
      “So there are already solutions out there it is just that brands are being hung out to dry in the press for supporting piracy.”
      If you have such a revolutionary, problem solving product, than have at it. But we will keep pounding the advertisers until you help them solve the problem completely.

      Reply
      • David C Lowery
        David C Lowery

        Well played by Will Buckley at Fare Play.
        Nice handling of the Anonymous troll who is probably financially invested in continuing the status quo. Why else be anonymous?
        I like how the Troll kept asking YOU to reveal who you were but they wouldn’t reveal themselve.
        Ah, the absurdity of those without scruples and souls. Makes great comedy.

        Reply
        • Visitor
          Visitor

          I would highly recommend avoiding publishing personally identifable information on the Internet, and that includes your real name. Having your real identity on the Internet puts you at a supreme disadvantage. By doing so, you basically allow every random wacko with an Internet connection to personally harass you or worse. It’s just not a good idea.

          Reply
          • FarePlay
            FarePlay

            Visitor, this is what I do. I’m an advocate for artists and artists’ digital rights. I’m here to help shine a light on the serious challenges that musicians and other creatives face in a digital world.
            I’m here to help bring clarity to the torrent of misperceptions and half-truths surrounding “free” and who is “entitled” to making those choices. I’m here to enable and empower people to understand the impact of their choices and how it affects others.
            If I’m going to ask others to step forward; how could I not do so myself?
            Will Buckley, founder, FarePlay

  6. Bill Rosenblatt
    Bill Rosenblatt

    The reason why “this is happening now” is Google’s Transparency Report, which lists (among other things) the number of DMCA takedown notices received by websites. See for example here. Google started issuing these statistics only recently. Notice that the top sites are obvious pirate sites like filestube and isohunt. Mainstream sites like Facebook, SoundCloud, Tumblr, etc. only get a few thousand takedown notices per month.
    Ad networks — the subject of the USC Annenberg study — sell so-called “run of network” (RoN) a/k/a “blind” buys at lower prices. But advertisers can specify parameters for those RoN buys. It’s not rocket science: the ad networks can use statistics from the Google Transparency Report to avoid buying inventory on these sites — if advertisers demand it. For example a threshold of 10,000 takedown notices per month should separate the obvious pirates from the mainstream sites.

    Reply

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