Crime Doesn’t Pay, Unless You’ve Got Advertising
The internet has completely revolutionized the flow of information, making works of art, books, movies and music available at the tap of a button. Unfortunately, the downside of this is piracy. Piracy sites illegally distribute copyrighted artistic or valuable material to members or participants for free. Most often, the result of piracy is devastating losses for artists or creators of the illegally distributed material. Governments want to prevent this sort of theft, and so do many individual corporations and industries- most notably, the music industry. It is often difficult for one government to address the concerns of piracy, because sites may be transnational, and it often looks like censorship.
Google, Yahoo, and other major online companies have recently been accused of supporting peer to peer ‘sharing’ sites by facilitating advertising on the piracy sites’ pages, pouring money right into the hands of intellectual property thieves. However, the complexity of the instantaneous advertising market makes it extremely difficult for companies like Google to control where ads go and which pages receive them, especially if the piracy sites are able to disguise their illegal actions. A distinct instigator of this issue was that brands looking to advertise weren’t asking if their ads were being displayed on piracy sites, but with the recent concern and the innovation of a ‘blacklist’ of sites and brands ‘supporting’ piracy (a.k.a., the Google Transparency Report), more brands have started to become concerned.
On January 5th of this year, the USC Annenberg Lab used the Google Transparency Report to address the top ten ad sites receiving takedown requests from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (USA), according to the official Annenberg Lab report. Annenberg Lab’s also reported that about 86% of peer to peer downloading (piracy) sites’ revenue. The initiative for action on the advertisers was sparked thus, as a way to stop illegal activity and preserve intellectual property revenue. The way intellectual property is sold and the way movie makers, music writers, etc. make a living is different throughout the world, but in America, there have been issues with piracy taking huge cuts out of expected profits for musicians, filmmakers, and the like.
Luckily, this top ten ‘blacklist’ aims to inform brands of the effects of their uninformed advertising choices, and tries to prevent illegal downloading. In the wake of major anti-piracy bills failed in Congress, the American government has urged the advertising industry and companies like Google to help prevent piracy in lieu of any formal legislation on the matter. Will Google’s monthly Report help stop piracy? It’s all a matter of speculation at this point, while millions of dollars of intellectual property, like movies, music, books and software, are still simply taken from their creators with impunity.