There is a quiet crisis brewing in the creative community…the potential end of music as a viable pathway out of economic hardship. Almost any song that comes to mind can be acquired online easily, at absolutely no charge. Adele’s “Send My Love” can be downloaded using ListenToYouTube.com. Kanye West’s “Famous” can be obtained using YouTubeinMP3.com. Even classics like Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” can be had using YouTube2MP3.cc.
The list of sites that participate in this song download frenzy, stealthily chipping away at music’s foundation, is long and growing. They are called stream rippers, named after their ability to rip audio from streamed music – and they have something in common…they all mine YouTube for music. At YouTube.com, music has become a free for all…literally. And the profession of music making hangs in the balance.
People can be stupid, you know? Like this guy who called cops whining that the dude he was going to buy drugs from robbed him instead. Or this chick who felt like she got shorted in a drug deal and called the cops to make sure she got her fair share of pot. Or this genius who called the cops to get the $10 in change his meth dealer owed him. Turns out the “meth” was salt, to boot!
When you step outside the law, things outside the law happen to you, things like getting beat up, robbed, or sold salt instead of the high-grade methamphetamine you contracted to purchase.
It’s no different online, although you might lose more than $10 in the process. If you go to download stolen movies or music off illegal sites online, it’s likely that bad guys are waiting in the shadows to sock you over your metaphorical head.
A just-released study by the Digital Citizens Alliance reports that 1 in 3 piracy sites expose users to malware or identity theft. Malware is bad software downloaded onto your computer. It can do several things: Monitor your activities, steal bank and credit card information, even activate your camera so someone can watch you without your knowledge. With the personal information malware can harvest, criminals online can sell your identity to the highest bidder. Plus, there’s a relatively new game in town in which hackers lock your computer and won’t unlock it until you pay a ransom. This can cost $500 for an individual, or more!
In recent months Google has experimented with exactly this. People who search for classic “pirate” terms may see ads for legal options. In addition, the search engine now shows a snippet with all sorts of movie details when people search for a title.
This movie information also includes reviews and ratings from around the web, with links to IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and other prominent sites. A useful feature for sure, but Hollywood will not like all of the sites that are featured.
Among various established sources, Google is also showing ratings from the “pirate” streaming site FMovies. As can be seen below, FMovies user ratings are tucked between IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, using the rather inviting title “Watch Free Movies Online.”
“IPO” has a different meaning in the UK than in Silicon Valley–the acronym stands for “Intellectual Property Office,” which is loosely like the U.S. Copyright Office. We’ve had our bones to pick with the UK Intellectual Property Office over the recent past. The Brits fall victim to Google’s crony capitalism, overreach and multimillion dollar lobbying strategy as does the U.S. government–and anything involving IP enforcement is naturally a target for Big Google.
But just like the European Commission is the only government in the world to take on Google’s true violations of fair business practices, the UK government has gotten bi-partisan support for going after ad-sponsored piracy of all stripes through the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. (@CityPolicePIPCU) The PIPCU is funded by the IPO and managed by the City of London Police.
This gives the IPO true enforcement powers, unlike our Copyright Office which has to persuade the Department of Justice to bring enforcement actions. (And since Google controls the Obama Administration’s enforcement of laws against Google, it’s unlikely that the DOJ will ever prosecute Google for much of anything at all.)
The one thing that taxpayers ask of their government is to protect their property and persons (see Leviathan). When it comes to the Internet, governments routinely fail miserably. The report shows striking examples of what can be done when government takes seriously its promises in the social contract.
This is something as simple as producing information about illegal sites that advertisers can consult before letting their ad networks (like Google Ad Services) sell their advertising to support piracy, illegal drugs or counterfeit goods.
Advertising plays a prominent role in supporting illegal sites. We are working with
industry and law enforcement partners to reduce the risk of advertising supply
chains being broken.
The creation of the Infringing Website List (IWL), an online portal containing an
up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, identified and evidenced by the
creative industries and verified by the City of London Police, is having a
significant impact. Since the PIPCU launched the IWL in 2013, there has been a
73% decrease in advertising from the UK’s top ad spending companies on IWL
copyright infringing websites.
We will continue to work with brand advertisers, advertising intermediaries and
law enforcement partners to highlight the value of the IWL and will support groups
such as the Digital Trading Standards group (DTSG) in promoting their UK good
Sir Martin has gone even further saying Google won’t even tell WPP or the advertisers themselves where their ads end up. According to a recent article in the Financial Times, Sir Martin “warned Google that unless it improves its efforts to weed out ‘fake views’ of online adverts, marketers will shift their focus back towards traditional media such as press and television.” Sir Martin was reacting to a study that alleged that Google “has been charging marketers for YouTube ad views even when the video platform’s fraud-detection systems identify that a ‘viewer’ is a robot rather than a human being” and Sir Martin stated the obvious conclusion that “[c]lients are becoming wary and suspicious.”
Serious stuff. Publish a list and advertisers can decide if they want to support illegal sites regardless of what the ad networks like Google say about it. Why can’t we have that in this country?
Now that Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers block the Pirate Bay, who wants to bet that Google, Mozilla and Apple will want a head pat for taking 13 years to do the right thing? Let’s all give thanks for nimble Silicon Valley.
Users of torrent site Pirate Bay are reporting that popular internet browsers Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari are blocking the site. A malware warning seems to be appearing when users try to access the site similar to the one that appeared for Kickass Torrents last month as well as in October 2015.
While Google Chrome seems to be giving a deceptive warning for the site due to the new Google Safe Browsing policy, Firefox users are being told: “This web page at thepiratebay.se has been reported as a web forgery and has been blocked based on your security preferences.” Some Safari users are also reporting the same phenomenon.