The City of London Police has welcomed a report from a UK MP that supports Operation Creative, a push to ban advertising on file-sharing websites.
Mike Weatherley, MP and intellectual property advisor to the prime minister, has released a discussion paper entitled Follow The Money’: Financial Options to Assist in the Battle Against Online IP Piracy.
The report followed advertising revenue, and found that ‘premium’ and ‘secondary’ high street and online brands are the second and third most common types of advertisers on sharing sites. Such firms are beaten only by adverts for malware, he found, and marginally outnumber adverts for adult services.
According to Weatherley, the system that oversees the retail industry and its advertising has no power to stop firms advertising on these sites. He called for changes, including a promise from firms to not advertise on file-sharing sites, an increase in police funding, and the consideration of legislation.
“Following the money is the key to shutting down the vast majority of websites that host illegal material. This report explores a number of issues surrounding the piracy debate and I hope that it will spur further discussion both in the UK and – given the international nature of this problem – in other countries across the world.” said Weatherley.
“I feel that it is my role to highlight just how damaging piracy is to the UK economy. It is paramount that we curb advertising revenue that is going to pirates who are, in turn, seriously damaging our creative industries.”
The message and the report have been welcomed by the City of London Police and the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).
In winter 2013 PIPCU kicked off Operation Creative and announced the closure of 40 sites that were associated with unlawfully uploaded content. At the time PIPCU said it had worked with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, advising firms on removing their adverts.
Superintendent Bob Wishart from the PIPCU said at the time: “Operation Creative is being run by PIPCU and the digital and advertising sectors to really get to grips with a criminal industry that is making substantial profits by providing and actively promoting access to illegally obtained and copyrighted material.
“The success of Creative thus far is evidence of a growing international consensus that people should not be allowed to illegally profiteer from the honest endeavours of legitimate business enterprises.”
Weatherley refers to the campaign in his report and the police returned the compliment by roundly recommending its content.
City of London Police commander Steve Head said: “Disrupting revenue to pirate websites is vital to combating online intellectual property piracy and I therefore welcome the recommendations in Mike Weatherley’s report.
“We must take the profit out of this type of criminality and where legitimate companies, such as payment providers, are facilitating that profit they must be held to account if they fail to act.”