Blake Morgan on How Google Alerts Drive Traffic to Pirates and Hurt Indie Artists and Labels

After our post yesterday about how Google drives traffic to pirate sites through Google Alerts (also supported by Facebook and Twitter), I got a chance to speak to Blake Morgan of ECR Music Group.  (MTP readers will remember Blake from the #IRespectMusic campaign, still going strong.)

Blake had the same experience with his label mate Janita (whom we interviewed about her experiences in Washington, DC supporting the #IRespectMusic campaign).

nadler(L-R Tommy Merrill, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Blake Morgan and Janita)

The point of this is that Google knows how many DMCA takedown notices it has received for certain sites.  Janita’s record was also pirated by myfreemp3 a site for which Google has received over 4,000,000 takedown notices just for Google search links.  How do we know this?  Google publishes the information in its “Transparency Report” (and for those who read this slide yesterday, that’s right, in one day the total number of notices Google received in 30 days increased by 141,467):

Goog Transparency

Janita’s record showed up in a Google Alert:

Janita G Alert Email


If you click on the link for “Janita” you are taken immediately to myfreemp3:

Janita myfreemp3 v 1


This pop up is still inside of the Google Alert email and has a link directly to the Janita page on the pirate site:

Janita myfreemp3 v 1

myfreemp3 even has the brass to scrape Janita’s Billboard Magazine album review:

Janita myfreemp3

There’s little doubt that myfreemp3 is a pirate site–Google alone has received over 4,000,000 DMCA notices for the site:

myfreemp3 result

Here’s the point–if Google is told 4,000,000 times that myfreemp3 is stealing, why do they promote the site in Google Alerts that are indiscriminately emailed to hundreds of millions of recipients?

Blake Morgan had this to say:

MTP:  How frequently to do you receive Google Alerts for your artists with links to pirate sites?

Blake:  Every single day. We get hundreds and hundreds per month, for all of our artists and each of our imprints.

MTP:  There’s a myfreemp3 that is in the Google Transparency Report as receiving over 4 million DMCA notices.  Is that the same one? 

Blake: Oh yeah, that’s the same one. It’s a Russian site that promotes the streaming and downloading––for free––of most, if not all, of our recordings. Our life’s work as artists is being stolen, right in front of us, and that theft is being promoted in turn, via Google alerts. 

MTP: How soon do these alerts driving traffic to illegal sites show up on new releases?
Blake:  Here’s what release-week now looks like for a new album: 1) Release album. 2) Wait 24 hours. 3) Start getting Google alerts for illegal sites where new album is being stolen.

MTP:  You often hear that there’s promotional value to these illegal sites.  What do you think of that?

Uh huh…well maybe there is for Chevrolet, who’s advertisement I see all too often on these sites, but other than that, no of course there isn’t. Stealing from artists doesn’t help artists, just like how stealing from people doesn’t help people. American radio doesn’t pay artists, but they say that’s good for us because we’re getting promoted. Illegal sites steal our music but they say it’s good for us, because we’re getting promoted. Venues often don’t pay performers but it’s good for us, because again, we’re getting promoted. So let me ask…it there’s so much promotion for artists going on here and if it’s all so good for artists, then how come artists are doing so badly? Is it some magic spell? Or herds of wild unicorns stabbing those pesky horns into music-makers’ bottom line? Hmmm. Tell you what. How about we try this instead: how about we pay artists, which is what would actually be good for us, instead of providing us with all this lovely and thoughtful “promotion” and “exposure.” Pay artists. That simple. Because as the saying goes…you can die from exposure. 

2 thoughts on “Blake Morgan on How Google Alerts Drive Traffic to Pirates and Hurt Indie Artists and Labels

  1. If you go back to the March 13 Congressional Copyright Hearing predominantly on the DMCA regulation, there is an admission by Google’s representative, Ms Oyama, that one way Google was dealing with piracy was to position paid advertising next to listings for infringing sites to provide legitimate options for those searching for content by title.

    Isn’t this, in fact, an admission by Google that Google is both aware and know where these sites are, but rather than bury them in search, they are monetizing the traffic.


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