Advertising firm GroupM revealed a few weeks ago that it had adopted a new anti-piracy policy. It constructed a list of websites that it deemed to be either in support of piracy, or directly offering illegal downloads. The list of sites eventually got into the hands of the media and there are some bizarre listings on it.
For example, the list includes archive.org, which has nothing to do with piracy. It also includes Vimeo, a YouTube competitor. However, the real controversial part is the music-based sites that are listed. One listed site was SoundCloud, which is one of the most popular tools for musicians to promote new material to fans. The Beastie Boys streamed their latest album using the site.
Another blacklisted website is Vibe.com, the online portal of Vibe magazine, founded by Quincy Jones. A 2009 list of the top 50 hottest rap blogs was published on Vibe.com. These websites are where hip-hop producers really want to be featured. TechDirt points out that if you check that list against the GroupM "piracy sites" list, most of them are on it (7 of the top 12 alone.)
So why the attack on Hip-Hop blogs and sites? According to the report, most of the affected websites are signaling that Universal Music is actually to blame. Indeed, Universial Music, alone with Warner Bros, Paramount and others, have shared lists of "piracy sites" with GroupM.
TechDirt also notes that a bunch of these popular hip-hop websites teamed up recently to form a group called the "New Music Cartel", and every one of their websites appears on the block list.
Of course, this means that artists from Universal are going to have a tough time promoting their music now with affected websites who feel Universal are behind their problems. Theories as to why these sites have been included range from ignorance (lawyers who no nothing about the music/hip-hop ecosystem online just adding everything they deem to be infringing copyright) to nefarious (attempts to knock down competition, or to break a reliance on certain outlets for promotion).
Either way, it will be interesting to see how it pans out.
The entire list of blocked websites is available at TechDirt.
Written by: James Delahunty @ 25 Jun 2011 18:54