Police to replace ads with warnings on piracy sites (Wired UK)


The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has started
to replace advertising on copyright infringing websites with
official warnings telling the user that the site is under criminal
investigation.

The sites in question are those that have been identified as
hosting copyright-infringing content and reported to Pipcu by
rights holders. Officers from the unit evaluate the sites to verify
that they are infringing copyright. They then contact the site
owner to give them the opportunity to “correct their behaviour” and
operate legitimately. If that fails, PIPCU can get the site taken
down by contacting the domain registrar, replace the site’s ads
with the scary warnings, or add the sites to the infringing website
list. When a site is added to that list, the information is fed
back to a group of 60 marketing agencies, advertising technology
companies and brands responsible for placing ads and they are then
asked to stop placing ads on those sites.

In order to get PIPCU’s banners onto the copyright infringing
sites, the police have partnered with content verification company
Project Sunblock. Project Sunblock maintains the list of infringing
websites and then makes sure that when clients’ advertisements are
going to be delivered to one of those sites that the police banners
are served as a replacement. Neither Project Sunblock nor the
Police pay for this ad placement, they simply serve an alterantive
ad. Project Sunblock then reports back the client which ads have
been blocked and on how many occasions. 

This approach has been adopted after many big brands were found
to be advertising on sites hosting pirated content. These sites
tend to place their ad inventory into ad networks and exchanges to
generate revenue from the audiences they attract, so well-respected
brands inadvertently find themselves “sponsoring” piracy.

During a pilot
last year
, the number of ads from well-known brands on these
websites fell by 12 percent. 

This is the latest phase of Operation Creative, an initiative –
launched in partnership between the police and the creative
industries — that aims to disrupt online piracy by targeting those
sites that host infringing content.

Head of PIPCU Andy Fyfe said that this copyright infringing
websites are making “huge sums of money” through advert placement,
therefore disrupting advertising on these sites “is crucial”.

“This work also helps us to protect consumers. When adverts from
well-known brands appear on illegal websites, they lend them a look
of legitimacy and inadvertently fool consumers into thinking the
site is authentic,” he added.

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28 July 2014 | 11:01 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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