Police IP Crime Unit launches Infringing Website List for advertisers

Tom Pakinkis

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has launched an ‘Infringing Website List’ which aims to disrupt the advertising revenues of pirate sites around the world.

The list forms part of the unit’s Operation Creative which, in partnership with the creative and advertising industries, targets websites providing unauthorised access to copyright content.

The IWL is an online portal providing the digital advertising sector with an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, identified by the creative industries and evidenced and verified by the City of London Police unit, so that advertisers, agencies and other intermediaries can cease advert placement on these illegal websites.

A recent report by the Digital Citizens Alliance estimated that in 2013, the most popular 30 piracy websites generated $227 million from advertising and even small sites are making $100,000 a year.

The introduction of the IWL follows a three-month pilot that took place last year in collaboration with the Operation Creative partners; the BPI, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the IFPI, The Publishers Association, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

The pilot saw a 12% reduction in advertising from major household brands on the identified illegal websites. The pilot also revealed that almost half (46%) of ads served to the sites clicked through to fraudulent scams.

“If an advert from an established brand appears on an infringing website not only does it lend the site a look of legitimacy, but inadvertently the brand and advertiser are funding online crime,” said detective chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, Head of PIPCU. “Therefore the IWL also serves as a safety tool, ensuring the reputation of advertisers and brands are not discredited through association with illegal websites.”

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said: “The early results from Operation Creative show that through working with the police and the online advertising industry, we can begin to disrupt the funding that sustains illegal websites and the advertising that lends them a false air of legitimacy.  These sites expose consumers to scams and malware, deny creators their living, and harm brands by associating them with illegal and unsafe content.  

“The launch of this unique tool will give creators, advertisers and brands the practical opportunity to work collaboratively to make the internet a safer place for users and make it harder for criminals to run illegal businesses which rip off the work of musicians and other creators.  We hope that more brands, advertising networks and other online intermediaries will come on board to support innovation and growth in the legal digital music sector and beyond.”

Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI said: “IFPI welcomes the pioneering work being done by the UK’s City of London Police in tackling the problem of advertising revenues supporting pirate websites. Brands do not want to fund services that are operating illegally and Operation Creative helps them to effectively put that principle into practice.  We urge more brands, networks and others in the advertising industry to work with the City of London Police on this programme that is being closely watched by other law enforcement agencies around the world.”

Creative Industries Minister, Ed Vaizey said, “The creative industries are a real UK success story. They are now worth £71.4 billion a year to the UK economy and grew faster than all other sectors of UK industry in 2012. It is essential we protect our creative industries from people ripping off their content online. Disrupting the money unlawful websites make from advertising could make a real difference to the fight against copyright infringement.  It is an excellent example of what can be achieved through industry, Government and law enforcement working together.”


Tags: Piracy, Digital, Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit

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