Police hail dramatic reduction of piracy site advertising in UK

Police in the UK have hailed an operation to halt advertising on piracy sites as a “major success”.

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) claims that since it launched Operation Creative and the Infringing Website List (IWL) in summer 2013, there has been a 73% decrease in advertising from the UK’s ‘top ad spending companies’ on copyright infringing websites.

It says that ads from the automotive, food and drink and real estate sectors ‘have almost entirely stopped appearing on pirate sites’.

A report by the Digital Citizens Alliance estimated that in 2013 piracy websites generated US $227million from advertising each year.

One of PIPCU’s biggest recent victories has been a 36% reduction in ads for gambling portals on copyright-infringing sites from March to June 2015.

Earlier this year the Gambling Commission, the regulatory body for commercial gambling in Great Britain, joined Operation Creative.

The IWL is an online portal providing the digital advertising sector with an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, evidenced and verified by PIPCU.

Operation Creative seeks to ‘disrupt ad revenue’ on these sites, working in tandem with advertising agencies, industry bodies and the music rights-holders.

“The criminals behind these sites are making substantial sums of money from advertising and, inadvertently, brands and advertisers are funding crime.”

Peter Ratcliffe, PIPCU

Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Minister for Intellectual Property said: “The Government takes copyright infringement extremely seriously – it hurts businesses, consumers and the wider economy.

“The results of Operation Creative show what can be achieved when enforcement agencies, industry and government work together.

“I am delighted PIPCU are clamping down on advertising of things like pop music and gambling on copyright infringing sites – protecting our industries and consumers from online crime.”

Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe, said, “Working closely with rights holders and the advertising industry, PIPCU has been able to lead the way with tackling copyright infringing sites by successfully disrupting advertising revenue.

“Operation Creative and our Infringing Website List (IWL) is just one of the many ways we are working together with the private sector to safeguard the public, protect the creative industries and ensure the reputation of advertisers and brands are not discredited through association with illegal websites.

“Not only do the public need to be aware that these websites are not safe places to visit as they often contain malware and viruses, but the criminals behind these sites are making substantial sums of money from advertising and inadvertently brands and advertisers are funding this online crime.”

PIPCU is a specialist national police unit dedicated to protecting UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online digital content from intellectual property crime, based within the Economic Crime Directorate of the City of London Police, the National Policing Lead for Fraud. The operationally independent unit launched in September 2013 and is funded by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) until 2017.

The original rights holder partners were the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and The Publishers Association. The advertising industry partners are represented by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

 Music Business Worldwide

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