All areas, internet
A press release from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) tells us that the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit “goes global in its pursuit of illegal websites” with the missive highlighting:
· A pilot collaboration between PIPCU, the advertising sector and the creative industries
· 40 national and international websites suspended by domain name registrars
· Pirate sites exposing consumers to malware and fraudulent scams targeted
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is based at the City of London Police and has been set up to protect UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content. The operationally independent unit is initially being funded by the Intellectual Property Office, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
PIPCU have also released details of their “innovative three month pilot, in collaboration with the creative and advertising industries” designed to disrupt advertising revenues on infringing websites has seen a clear and positive trend, with a reduction in advertising from major household brands. A detailed report looking at 61 websites over the course of the pilot, evidenced as profiting from advertising and operating without licenses from content creators, revealed the following:
· During the pilot adverts from well-known brands decreased by 12%;
· Adverts that lead the user to sites with explicit adult content or expose them to malware increased by 39% during the pilot, indicating that site owners may struggle to maintain their revenue streams when adverts from established brands are removed;
· Almost half (46%) of total ads served to the sites were for unknown or unidentified brands which invited users to click through, often to fraudulent scams.
Operation Creative began in the summer with a partnership between the City of London Police, the UK advertising industry (represented by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA)) and rights holders (represented by FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), BPI (British Recorded Music Industry), IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) and the PA (Publishers Association)). Rights holders identified the 61 websites that were providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content. Once illegal activity was confirmed by analysts from the City of London Police, a formal ‘prevention and deterrent’ process began to encourage infringing websites to engage with the Police, to correct their behaviour and to begin to operate legitimately.
Details of those failing to respond to this approach were then passed to a group of 60 brands, agencies and advertising technology businesses with a request to stop advertising on these websites.
The next phase of Operation Creative targeted the websites that persisted in offending. PIPCU sent out formal letters to domain name registrars explaining that they were hosting websites facilitating criminal copyright infringement under UK law as well as potentially breaching their terms and conditions. Registrars were then requested to suspend these websites until further notice. These sites are now under an on-going review by PIPCU officers – although its not been without some controversy with on registrar, Mark Jeftovic, owner of EasyDNS, pointing out in a blog that there was a “lack of any semblance of due process when it comes to domain name takedowns.”
Superintendent Bob Wishart, from PIPCU, said: “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” adding “Together we have created a process that first and foremost encourages offenders to change their behaviour so they are operating within the law. However, if they refuse to comply we now have the means to persuade businesses to move their advertising to different platforms and, if offending continues, for registrars to suspend the websites.”
Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, said: “FACT is delighted to be working with PIPCU and partners from the advertising, music and publishing sectors to protect UK consumers from websites that promote illegal content and also provide an unsafe platform that puts themselves and their families at risk. Many of these sites have no content filters and contain material that is unsuitable for children.”