One of the entertainment industries’ main strategies for tackling ‘pirate’ sites is to prevent them generating revenue from their activities. The theory is that such sites are profit-motivated and if none can be made, they will soon shut down.
With this in mind, industry bodies have sought to target companies who place or pay for advertising to appear on pirate sites. In many cases the companies don’t know exactly where their adverts are appearing, but in case they were in any doubt, this week the police stepped up to remind them.
According to information just released by City of London Police, this Wednesday, officers from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) paid visits to eight organizations involved in placing adverts on pirate sites.
Accompanied by representatives from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), British Phonographic Industry (BPI), International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and PRS for music, PIPCU targeted brands, advertising agencies and networks.
The visits took place as part of the multi-agency anti-piracy initiative Operation Creative. PIPCU says that the companies were made aware that their advertising is appearing on pirate sites. It is not clear whether any of them already knew, but the police got the result they were hoping for.
After discussion, all agreed to cooperate by ensuring that they no longer support any of the platforms listed on the Infringing Website List (IWL) maintained by police and rightsholders.
“All of the organisations were keen to support Operation Creative and have pledged to sign up to the IWL to ensure advert placement from their brand and clients do not appear on the 1,232 websites listed on the IWL,” PIPCU said.
PIPCU offered no further details on the companies visited this week, which suggests that it views them as partners moving forward.
“Operation Creative is key to ending the funding of websites involved in digital piracy. It is important we tackle this issue, not only for brands and businesses’ reputation, but for consumers too,” said Operation Creative’s lead officer Detective Constable Steven Salway.
“When adverts from established brands appear on these sites, they lend them a look of legitimacy. By working with industry to discourage reputable brands from advertising on piracy sites, we will help consumers realise these sites are neither official nor legal.”
Director General of FACT, Kieron Sharp, praised the IWL and said that his group is pleased to be raising awareness within the advertising community.
“PIPCU’s IWL is the first of its kind and is a great tool for businesses to protect their brand reputation by ensuring their adverts don’t appear on pirate sites,” Sharp said.
“Consumers need to be aware that not only are the criminals behind these websites making substantial amounts of money from adverts, but simply visiting the sites can put the public at risk of malware, viruses and click-through scams.”
While the police action is likely to have some effect, there are still plenty of advertisers willing to show off their products on pirate platforms. It is clear, however, that the quality of advertising on such sites is steadily diminishing.