Tag Archives: BMW

Hey Tom Waits! Who’s That Bandido Ripping You Off Now? … Wendy’s, Yahoo, BMW, Mitt Romney, Adobe, Cadillac, LG, Target, Westin Hotels, Priceline, Hyatt Hotels, Weight Watchers, VISA, State Farm, Mini Cooper, ADT Security…

Remember the bad old days of the music business of yore? When sleazy cigar chomping gangsters would give an old bluesman $20 for a song? Later when that song became a hit, the old bluesman discovered that he had signed away all his rights to that song for 20 bucks. And the gangsters kept all that cash that rolled in.

Well the new guys are much worse. These cigar chomping Vladmirs don’t even bother giving the bluesman the 20 bucks. They take the old bluesman’s songs without permission, slather them in ads, and charge for faster downloads. If the artists complain about this, they are shouted down by Vladmir’s useful idiots at foundations like the EFF or glassy-eyed digital utopians from Berkeley* and Harvard. “Censorship” and “Freedom” they shout. Nevermind that many of the websites they are protecting are based in countries like Belarus and Russia. Not exactly paragons of democracy and freedom.

And what about the brands that advertise on these sites and the ad networks that put the ads there, and the payment processors who process the money for them? These guys are no different than the bankers and money launderers that enable the cartels.

This is bullshit right? Cause every single one of these companies advertising here, their advertising agencies and the ad networks have either “corporate responsibility” initiatives or grandiose statements of best and ethical practices. And here they are making a mockery of all that right here for all the world to see.

Plus it’s against the law.

What do you have to say BMW, Mitt Romney, Adobe, Cadillac, LG, Target, Visa, Wendy’s, Westin, Priceline, Weight Watchers, Hyatt, Hilton, Yahoo, Urban Outfitters and University of Phoenix?

(According to Google, the websites in this screenshot ā€” filestube, 4shared,Kat.ph and Dilandau ā€” are the #1, #6, #11, and #8 top copyright infringing sites in the world.)

(*Berkeley runs the aptly named http://www.chillingeffects.org that is dedicated to posting the names of everyone that files DMCA “takedown” notices of copyright infringing links. You read that right, the birthplace of the free speech movement runs a site that basically punishes, er, publishes the name and address of the little guy that attempts to protect his/her freedom of expression. Intimidation pure and simple. You can write the Chancellor of Berkeley here: chancellor<AT>Berkeley.edu)

Here’s yer Bandido’sā€¦

* BMW on Kick Ass Torrents
* Mitt Romney, ADT Security on 4Shared
* Adobe, Mini Cooper on FilesTube
* Cadillac on FilesTube
* LG on FilesTube
* Target on Mp3Crank
* VISA, State Farm on Mp3 Crank
* Wendy’s on Kick Ass Torrents
* Westin on Kick Ass Torrents
* Priceline, Weight Watchers on 4Shared
* Hyatt on 4Shared
* Weight Watchers, Hilton on 4Shared
* Yahoo on Dilandau
* Urban Outfitters on FilesTube

And this video from Tom is awesome too…


BMW’s Response to Ads for Its Brands on Pirate Sites

As they drive on–CUT TO:

A PRETTY YOUNG WOMAN standing in the doorway of one of the Tudor houses. She is very pregnant. She knows instinctively who they are, and she dominates them in a genuinely proud female way. What I mean is, it’s her scene, and they’re suddenly embarrassed to be bothering her.


To see Mr. Sloan.


He’s out.

(There is a pause. She studies them–)

You’re those two from the Post, aren’t you.

(they nod)

I’ll tell him.


(as she’s about to step back inside)

This must be a difficult time for the both of you.


This is an honest house.

From “All The President’s Men,” By William Goldman

Several artists and rights holders wrote to BMW after reading the Trichordist “Wall of Shame” post about BMW’s ads being served on a pirate site that was illegally distributing the “Drive” soundtrack. (See “Wall of Shame: BMW Willing to ‘Drive’ Without License.”) I also wrote to BMW and outlined the key points to them, being:

1. Someone in their house is in on it. It may not be a BMW employee, but it is someone in the chain.

2. Artists are told by companies like Google to “follow the money” through the labyrinth of advertising exchanges, advertising networks and real time bidding in between the brand and the pirate site. I pointed out to BMW that we don’t need to know anything more than where the money starts–which is with the brand–and where it stops–which is with the pirate. What happens in between is of no consequence to anyone but the brand (BMW in this case) that is no doubt being routinely lied to, and possibly to law enforcement.

3. Brands like BMW are in a unique position to both (a) stop the money and (b) demand a rebate from their ad agency or ad network. But then we are always told that none of these ad networks (or ad exchanges) profit from piracy because their contracts say they don’t. Ah, well, in that case they must be innocent, right? The demanding-the-rebate step is important because if they don’t do that, then the brand’s stockholders are being ripped off. (Remember the stockholders? They’re the ones who own the place.)

4. What I suspect that artists really want is for the brands to step up to their responsibilities, especially the public companies, denounce these practices and stop funding the pirates. This isn’t about following the money, it’s about stopping the money. Following the money is a distraction, stopping the money is effective.

BMW was very responsive to my inquiry regarding the “Drive” campaign. The company has informed me that due to readers of the Trichordist bringing the specific incident to their attention, they have not only stopped the ads from being served on the particular site in question but the incident triggered a complete audit of BMW’s digital buying practices. This includes a review of their current agreements with all of their partner ad networks, as well as a review of their current verification provider (Double Verify in this case). BMW are taking this seriously and seem to take a dim view of being used to undermine intellectual property rights. Hopefully they will conduct their review with a critical eye for the obfuscation that we all believe is rampant.

So why is BMW’s response an important event?

Assuming they actually do what they say they will do–and I am willing to take them at their word until I have a reason to think otherwise–a very important brand in an nominally unrelated industry has recognized that they are being manipulated by a legion of thieves. They didn’t try to blame the other guy, BMW took responsibility for their brand.

The government will do what it’s going to do to prosecute the criminals and the money launderers that infest online advertising. That must be done, it is important work, but it will take time because although the wheels of justice do turn, they turn slowly.

This incident illustrates a few things we need to happen.

First of all, we need an immediate reaction from brands that are getting ripped off to make it stop. Not just window dressing but actually stop. I can’t say enough good things about BMW’s responsible reaction. I hope others follow suit proactively.

The second thing we need to make clear is that if you work at an ad network, particularly a successful ad network, it is highly likely that you are associating yourself with bad guys. I seriously doubt that any ad network or ad exchange is clean. It is an occupation that is at best suspect and at worst a haven for money laundering. It is also very likely that your paycheck includes profit from human misery from copyright infringement to mail order brides.

Finally, until such time as brands like BMW require third party certification and monitoring of sites where their ads appear in real or near real time, all ad networks and exchanges are suspect.

Why? Because the ad inventory from illegal sites is just too vast for it not to affect everyone in the business.

So at least today, BMW has said it chooses to stand with the artists and not with the scumbags. And that’s good for the artists.

Thanks to the artists and rights holders who wrote to BMW and to the Trichordist. And special thanks to BMW for their quick reaction. It’s a team effort, let’s keep it up.

Ultimately, the brands have to decide if they live in an honest house.

Wall Of Shame : BMW Willing to “Drive” Without License

In our ongoing series the Wall of Shame showing advertising by major brands appearing on sites hosting unlicensed music and illegally exploiting the rights of artists, this one really spoke to us.

BMW advertising appears on the site mp3crank for the unlicensed album download of the critically acclaimed “Drive” Soundtrack. Given that BMW is the maker of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” this really make us wonder about the sophistication of context based advertising. As such, the DMCA protection for dumb pipes would seem to not apply in this circumstance. Of course it completely makes sense to us why BMW would want to associate itself with an album of music that has entered the pop culture zeitgeist with references coming recently from the front page of the LA Times and in the season premier of the TV show Workaholics.

But we also wonder if the brand and/or its ad agency (or its online advertising affiliates) know that they are supporting the systematic exploitation of artists and creators. It would seem in very poor taste for such a highly respected luxury automobile maker as BMW to do so.

As a point of interest it should be noted that most of the artists on this album are themselves independent or signed to small indie labels. These are not “millionaire rock stars” being exploited. They are regular, hard working musicians who caught a lucky break. That break unfortunately is not for the profit of the artists, but rather this site who is contributing nothing to the artists themselves.

So how does this happen?

Who from these brands is responsible for making sure their ads don’t end up in the wrong places?

Is there any accountability at all with online ad networks?

And here’s where it gets even weirder. The link to the site above was delisted from Google by the UK’s BPI. We assume they would have also issued a take down notice to mp3crank as well, if the site had a take down policy provision (it appears they don’t).

However the link reappears when Google forwards the DMCA notice to Chilling Effects, which itself then requires a DMCA notice to take down the report of the original DMCA notice. Kinda defeats the purpose of having the link delisted in the first place, huh? (And notice that Chilling Effects has not registered a DMCA agent, so they may not even qualify for the safe harbor in the first place.)

For those who want to support the artists on the album legally, here’s a link to Apple’s iTunes:

Artists, ask BMW to stop propping up unlicensed businesses that are illegally exploiting creators! Here’s how you can contact BMW to ask them to stop exploiting artists, include the link to this post in your email.


Dirk Arnold Vice President, Corporate Communications Tel: 201-307-3954 Email: Dirk.Arnold@bmwna.com

Amanda Thomas-Henke Corporate Communications Coordinator Tel: 201-307-3724 Email: Amanda.Henke@bmwna.com