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.

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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
    • 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
    • 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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