UK Police Claim 64% Drop in Mainstream Advertising on 200 Pirate Sites

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City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit is claiming success in denying potential revenue to more than 200 'pirate' sites. As a result of Operation Creative, the division says that in the past twelve months there has been a 64% decrease in advertising placed by the UK’s top ad spending companies.

For the past several years, authorities in the UK have been clamping down pretty hard on Internet piracy. Officers have arrested dozens of individuals involved in running sites and those supplying piracy-enabled hardware.

Much of this action has emanated from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) under the banner Operation Creative, a multi-pronged initiative to reduce piracy using a variety of tactics, including the targeting of domains and the disruption of revenue streams.

Part of that task has involved making it harder for pirate site operators to generate funding from advertising. That’s being achieved via the Infringing Website List (IWL), a blacklist of websites distributed to potential advertisers and agencies who are asked to boycott the domains in the name of supporting creators.

In an announcement yesterday PIPCU claimed success in this area, noting that research from data company whiteBULLET indicates that there has been a 64% decrease in advertising from the UK’s top ad spending companies on more than 200 copyright-infringing websites.

“This shows the great impact our work has on protecting the creative industries in the UK and across the world,” said DCI Pete Ratcliffe, head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit.

“Operation Creative is about taking away the revenue that these criminals use to undermine one of the most important industries to the UK economy.”

Noting the cooperation shown by brands and advertisers, Ratcliffe said that Operation Creative will be stepping on the gas even more this year, with the aim of negatively affecting close to 1,300 sites on the IWL.

Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, said that illegal sites have a negative impact on the UK’s creative industries and that when advertising appears on them, it legitimises criminal operations.

“The naming and shaming of infringing websites sends a clear message: criminal activity will not be tolerated. PIPCU and their enforcement partners will continue to track down, de-legitimise and disrupt advertising revenues on these infringing sites,” Johnson said.

“I commend PIPCU and their partners for these continued efforts to disrupt funding of illegal streaming sites by dramatically reducing rates of advertising that appear on them.”

The news comes on the heels of a report in January that PIPCU had paid visits to several companies that had been found to be advertising on pirate sites. Each reportedly pledged to stop advertising on 1,232 pirate sites in the wake of the contact from PIPCU.

PIPCU says that the figure of 64 per cent reported yesterday was based on comparing 205 websites on the Infringing Website List in both January 2016 and January 2017. However, the unit does not release information on which sites were counted (such as their names or their size) so it’s impossible to say whether these were big or small players or what the overall effect was.

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