News July 25, 2016

UK stunts pirate ad revenue, Music Rights Aus offers update on local scheme

Charts & New Music Editor

Pirate websites in the UK have been dealt a significant financial blow with their revenue being cut by 70% as a result of advertisement interceptions, according to the City of London Police.

The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and PIPCU (Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit) have been working together to stunt the flow of advertisements appearing on illicit websites. 

Dubbed Operation Creative, the strike against pirate websites has implicated major global brands are a key contributor to the problem. However, due to the complex process that is required for brands to display a digital advertisement on websites, many of these brands have managed to evade legal action. 

The plea of ignorance from a host of well-known brands, including car company Lexus, has failed to convince industry experts. The likes of Apple and Coca-Cola regulate and monitor their advertising in a way that prevents their content from appearing on illegal websites, setting the standard for other brands.

On the contrary, the advent of machine-to-machine trading of ads by automated exchanges has strengthened the pleas of large brands, and indeed, heightened the problem further for regulatory bodies.

Advertisement sharing on illegal sites has also contributed to the spread of malicious software. It is also particularly damaging to a brand’s intellectual property along with the creative industries.  

Speaking to TMN, Vanessa Hutley, general manager of Music Rights Australia, acknowledges the harm that such behaviours have on the brands themselves as well as the industry.

“The people who they are trying to attract will associate their brands with these illegal sites. That seems to us to be damaging their IP and it’s also damaging the creative industries”.

Over the past three years, Hutley and Music Rights Australia have undertaken the development of a local Australian initiative, similar to that of the UK.  

“We have been working with the Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA) to create digital principles which are designed to mirror what’s happening in the UK.

“[We’re working] to have brands and platforms in the online media advertising environment adopt these principles which would then tree across from the brand, through to the agencies, through to the platforms, to address the issue of brand integrity”.

The initiative targets the brand integrity of companies who wish to digitally advertise in what is “a question of standard raising, not blame”.

“It’s not a question of doing the wrong thing; we’re saying let’s step up and do the right thing”, said Hutley. “Let’s adopt these principles and starve these sites of the revenues”.

In 2014, a study titled Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business revealed that 30 major sites, that relied solely on the illicit distribution of stolen content, accounted for US$227 million in total annual ad revenue, with an average of US$4.4 million for each site. The larger BitTorrent portal sites were estimated to acquire more than US$6 million each year.

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