An Open Letter to the CEOs of Brands Advertising on Infringing Sites…

The following is being spearheaded by the Copyright Alliance, a non-profit, non-partisan public interest and educational organization representing artists, creators, and other innovators.   The petition is being sent to scores of top CEOs and garnered thousands of signatures after just a few hours.

The signature page is here.

“We, the undersigned, are just a few of the millions of artists and creators living, working, and creating across the United States.”

“It has come to our attention that your companies are advertising on websites that illegally host or distribute creative content. We want to make you aware of the harm your companies do to independent artists and small businesses when you advertise on these sites.

Advertising on these sites encourages others to exploit our work for economic gain without a return to us. It deprives us of the opportunity to build communities with fans when they visit illegal sites to obtain our work, rather than our sites. It also gives consumers a false sense of security by lending an air of legitimacy to these sites. And, it rewards activities that are illegal.

Advertising on these sites also damages your own brands by association.

We understand that it can be difficult to know where your companies’ ads might end up because of the complexity of online advertising. However, difficult does not mean impossible. It appears that other companies make ad buys in ways that don’t result in their brands being tarnished and our work being exploited.

We ask you to encourage your companies to do the same.

“You are in the best position to employ high-quality control standards and to demand the same from the ad networks you use. We encourage your companies to uphold high ethical standards for advertising placement, just as you do in other areas of business.”

Please ask your online advertising purchasers to adopt practices like those detailed in the Statement of Best Practices to Address Online Piracy and Counterfeiting, released last year by the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The practices outlined here, if adopted by major companies like yours, would go a long way towards ensuring a free and fair online marketplace for artists and creators to thrive. A reportreleased by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab on February 14, 2013, under the direction of Jonathan Taplin, has identified the top ten Ad Networks placing ads on infringing sites. And, according to research and documentation by artists working in tandem with this project, your companies have been identified as brands that repeatedly advertise on infringing websites.

Now that this issue has been brought to your attention, we hope that you will take affirmative steps to address this problem.

We ask you to start by signing the following pledge here, which is also written below:

“I support the rights of artists, creators and innovators to be compensated for the fruits of their labor. I run my business ethically, and value my brand.  I pledge not to advertise on sites which illegally exploit the work of creators without their permission.”



Letter to be sent to CEOs and marketing directors of : 

Adobe, ADT Security, Alaska Air, Amazon, American Express, AT&T, Audi, BMW, Boston Market, Boy Scouts, British Airways, Century 21, Charter, Citibank, Cox Communications, Crate & Barrel, DirectTV, Dish Network, ebay, Electronic Arts, Emirates Airline, Ferguson Showrooms, Ford Motor Company, GoPro, Google Chrome, Hertz, HP, Hilton Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, Hyundai, Jet Blue, Kayak, Kohler, LegalZoom, LG Electronics, Macy’s, Marvel Avengers Alliance, Mazda, MiniCooper, Musicians Friend, My M&M’s, Nationwide Insurance, Neiman Marcus, Netflix, Nissan USA, Priceline, Princess Cruises,, Rejuvenation Inc., Sheraton Hotels, Skype, Sprint, State Farm Insurance, Sweetwater Sound, Target, TuneCore, United Airlines, Urban Outfitters, Virgin Atlantic, Visa, VW, W Hotels, Weight Watchers, Wendy’s, Westin, Williams Sonoma, Yahoo. 

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 Sign the petition here.

24 Responses

  1. Visitor

    Awesome initiative!
    Let’s hope a lot of sites will encourage readers to sign!

  2. redwards

    While I understand the intent is well meaning it shows a either a complete understand of how ad networks function or it is a PR ploy to give the impression that the active choice is being made to advertise on these sites.
    Either way it is another piece of PR, which further obscures the real issue, infringement sites exist because people want the content without paying or can’t afford to access via legitimate means.
    Changing the behavior of a billion dollar industry which functions both legally and ethically is not the solution. Deferring blame from fans to companies is not the solution.
    For once I would love to hear a group like the copyright alliance tell it like it is, it is the fans behavior, which is the problem. The fan is hurting the very artists they are fans of.

    • Visitor

      if the billion dollar industry was behaving legally and ethically this petition would not exist.

      salute to Copyright Alliance, a year ago no one was talking about the money changing hands to the benefit of corporate profiteering and exploiting artists.

      we’ve seen an artist oriented shift in attitudes and initiatives that a year ago no one was even thinking about.

      it’s about time. bring it on.

      • redwards

        Look at it this way – Target (one of the comapanies mentioned) ad agency does a 10 million dollar ad buy. This buy includes broadcast, print and digital. 2 million goes into a digital buy, of that 1.8 million is used, the other .2 is not used becouse of low site performance, over selling ect. These remaning ads are called reminant ads and are run through ad networks which specializes mass broadcasting to small or fringe websites. Anyone has the ability to grab the code which runs the ads and places it on their site. These systems are used on millions of websites such as local music and art blogs.
        That is how the add appears on a file sharing website – the company buying the ad has nothing to do with it. Therefore this petention is a PR stunt and has no practicle effect.
        The real issue with file sharing or content sharing sites are not the ad networks – they will always find a way to game the system. The issue are the people using it – as long as there is a demand for the free content there will be these sites.
        Instead of making these petetions which at best manipulate the situation, lets start discussing the real problem – why fans of an artist are ok with downloading their music for free using these sites.

        • Visitor

          “The real issue with file sharing or content sharing sites are not the ad networks”
          There are many issues!
          This is going to be a success because we address each and every one of them:
          Fans, ISP’s, Google, ad networks, credit card companies, legislation, education, global coordination, etc.

        • DanT

          This is the same lame argument you hear on a number of issues (the recent being gun law) that you can’t do anything about things because people breaking the law will always find a way to break the law. This needs a cultural change as well as a legal change. On all levels. Artists are fed up. This is great.

          • Visitor

            “Artists are fed up. This is great.”
            Could define the decade.

        • Visitor

          The issue are the people using it – as long as there is a demand for the free content there will be these sites.


          This can not be repeated enough.

          • Visitor

            “as long as there is a demand for the free content there will be these sites”
            Geez, as long as there is a demand for free cars there will be car thieves…
            See, the Internet is not a separate reality. You have to understand that stealing is exactly as illegal on the web as it is anywhere else.
            So you use the same tools to stop IP-thieves and car thieves: Legislation and enforcement.
            Yes, it took some time to explain the situation to our politicians and legislators, and a lot of jobs and money and music were lost, but now we’re rolling…

          • Visitor

            “If I could copy a car, I would.”
            Why don’t you just copy a $100 bill a few times instead?
            And please post a copy of your credit card and passport. Sharing is caring…

          • Visitor

            No, just your car. I need a another car anyway.
            All I need is a 3D scanner with material detection and nanoparticle multi-mode 3D printer.

            In 20 years from now maybe?

          • Visitor

            Fiat currency will be worthless in a world where you can copy anything perfectly. I could maybe wipe my ass with $100 bill, but toilet paper works better.
            True cryptocurrency (eg. like BitCoin) however could be still be valuable. An increasing amount of the world’s commerence is happening without government shiny paper involved, and it will only get more popular if fiat becomes more restricted.

      • Visitor

        “we’ve seen an artist oriented shift in attitudes and initiatives that a year ago no one was even thinking about.”

        • Visitor

          “it is the fans behavior, which is the problem. The fan is hurting the very artists they are fans of”
          Yes, that’s the elephant in the room.
          But this petition is the beginning. It shows that artists don’t accept piracy anymore.
          I think the next initiative will be aimed at consumers.
          And I think it will be a success. Fans don’t want to hurt the artists they love. That’s why pirates always talk about greedy corporations and evil conspiracies when they try to justify infringement. While they never mention their victims: Individual artists.
          Our task is to make ordinary people understand that piracy is selfdestructive: Steal this song, and the artist can’t afford to produce new music for you.

          • redwards

            One can argue that is the 1.5 million music fans a day that used the pirate bay to download free music that allows those sites to make money.
            All I am saying is stop baming the symptons and address the ailment. I am not making an arguement for legalizing downloads or that fighting piracy is a loss cause. I am saying it is time to acknowledge the cause of the problem.
            You can shut down all advertising to download sites (ironically that will also shut down most independant music blogs since they use the same systems) and it will not put a dent in file downloads. Sites will stay up and file sharing will still exist.
            File sharing at it’s core is a culteral issue and either an effort is made to adress these cultural issues where people with disposal incomes choose to download music (or share passwords for services) they can afford to buy change their behavior or we must all start accepting a higher pricepoint for concerts, lower production quality in music and less new music.

          • Visitor

            “One can argue that is the 1.5 million music fans a day that used the pirate bay to download free music that allows those sites to make money”
            Absolutely correct!
            But this is also true:
            1) The Pirate Bay will disappear without the millions of dollars they make.
            2) The Pirate Bay will disappear if the ISP’s block them.
            3) The Pirate Bay will disappear if we stop the criminal organizations that host them.
            And nothing could be easier!
            It took a week to convince the Swedish pirate ‘party’ that it would be better to follow the law… 🙂

          • steveh

            Dear Redwards
            Your argument is totally bogus and here’s why:-
            I’m sure there is a great demand for your money.
            Please therefore post on this thread your full bank details and credit card details – then us “fans” who have a demand for your money can show you our love by emptying all your accounts and leaving you utterly bankrupt.
            Go ahead punk – make our day!

  3. Ms. Poon

    I see the list of companies that are advertising.
    Is there a list of the infringing sites?

    • Visitor

      Trust me, they are infringing. Stop asking for too much information.

      • Visitor

        Like I said in my response to your Ms. Poon pseudonym:
        Here’s all the information you need:

        (You do trust your Google masters, right? 🙂

    • Visitor

      Here’s all the information you need:

      (You do trust your Google masters, right? 🙂

  4. Zen Joseph

    Brilliant work, please keep me informed of outcomes!