Judging by the lack of headline news about the unauthorized access to recorded music online, it would be easy to think that the issue of online piracy has gone away with the rise in the popularity of music access services such as Spotify and Deezer acting as the gun that fired the silver bullet. It is certainly true that streaming services that offer a free tier have pulled in previous users of file-sharing services and other so-called free distribution services. Moreover, research has shown that, in some countries, high use of streaming services has had a direct correlation with reduced levels of piracy. But, despite the streaming boom time and lack of media attention devoted to online piracy, it would be quite wrong to suggest that illegal online distribution of recorded music is not still a big problem for the industry.
The fifth annual survey by the Ovum publication Music & Copyright of the online piracy problem has found little change to the status quo. Although the number of sites that are now blocked by ISPs around the world continues to rise, so does the number of sites offering unlicensed content. Moreover, blue-chip companies and media-content services are still unwittingly supporting the sites through advertising placements.
Too much brand apathy
In a recurring theme, most companies notified of the presence of advertising on pirate sites stated a willingness to have their adverts removed but offered little assurance that dealing with misplaced advertising would become a high priority. While some companies act quickly to remove their advertising from illegal sites and services, plenty more seem quite happy to leave advertising placement to their agencies regardless of where that means their advertising might turn up. Although advertising associations have set up initiatives to raise awareness of the dangers of misplaced advertising, the size of the task in hand provides little in the way of optimism that the situation will change any time soon.
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