Public Shame as a Weapon Against Piracy Sites
Last month, the University of Southern California Annenberg Innovation Lab began to track the brands that are advertising on websites that provide peer-to-peer sharing of pirated digital media. The report names thirty-one major brands, including Amazon, American Express, AT&T, Samsung, Toyota, and Wal-Mart. The biggest surprise might be The Walt Disney Company, which is victimized by the very websites that it helps to fund through purchasing advertising space.
Interestingly, the report also found that virtually none of these brands place advertising on pornography websites. While it appears that the brands have no concerns about facilitating illegal copyright infringement, they would be embarrassed to have their ads show up on sites that are considered taboo.
The Annenberg Innovation Lab believes that by reporting the top offending networks they could help to cut off funding to websites that support digital piracy. The websites that facilitate piracy make most of their money by selling advertising space. By cutting off the money from advertisements it is possible that the sites could lose their ability to operate. It appears that Annenberg Innovation Lab’s hope is that by publicly shaming those who pay for ad space on the sites, these brands will choose not to continue in the endeavor.
In the first report that came out, Google ranked second among the offending brands. One month later, after the rankings were updated, Google’s name has been cleared from the list. Although this is only one example, it goes to show the serious impact public shame can play on discouraging these brands from purchasing ad space on websites that encourage piracy