Most know by now that advertising dollars are the fuel that feeds the fire of today’s online piracy. Today (February 16th) I discovered that some of Uncle Sam’s money makes up part of that fuel. I came across this ad, apparently sponsored, at least in part it seems, by the U.S. Forest Service. The ad popped up on an (illegal) download for a recently released indie film “A Perfect Ending” on the movreel.com cyberlocker.
I imagine the U.S. Forest Service has no idea that their advertising for the Smokey the Bear website emblazons an illegal download, but its presence does indicate the depth of the problem with online advertising’s lack of accountability when it comes to financing web-based piracy. As the recently released USC Annenberg Lab Ad Transparency Report documents, brand supported piracy is pervasive across the globe and involves a number of major corporations such as American Express, BMW, ATT, Walmart, etc. Well, now it appears you can add the U.S. government to that list.
What can be done? Perhaps we should add online piracy to the list of fires that Smokey the Bear puts out, or, at the very least, have him talk with colleagues in Washington D.C. about ways to “prevent” the problem.