Illegal downloaders face a new hurdle: pop-up ads warning they’re about to be involved in content piracy.
City of London Police will be implementing the ads on websites it’s investigating for distributing copyrighted material illegally.
The scheme is part of the UK’s Operation Creative, that hopes to disrupts – and eventually to close down – websites by discouraging users and reducing advertising revenue.
DCI Andy Fyfe, head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said: “This new initiative is another step forward for the unit in tackling IP crime and disrupting criminal profits.
“Copyright infringing websites are making huge sums of money though advert placement, therefore disrupting advertising on these sites is crucial and this is why it is an integral part of Operation Creative.
“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.”
PIPCU is the part of the City of London Police running Operation Creative, with full co-operation from a number of groups in the filmmaking and music industries.
The warning ads are placed through companies which distribute ads to websites, and have been criticised for helping pirate websites to make money from other people’s work.
PIPCU said its officers initially assess websites which copyright owners have identified hosting their content without permission, and ask them to operate legitimately.
If the website fails to comply, the ad replacements will be served in ad slots using technology provided by Project Sunblock, a content verification service for advertisers.
CEO of Project Sunblock, Duncan Trigg said: “Without realising it, advertisers are allowing their brands to be associated with illegal sites, and regrettably, this happens more often than it should. But each time it does, brands are effectively putting money in the back pocket of criminals.
“As advertisers funnel more money into online spend, initiatives like this are crucial to safeguarding their brands as well as their budget.”
Other measures for discouraging such websites to operate include requesting the web hosting company associated with the sites close them down. Torrentz.eu was one site affected by this action, although it was up and running again just a day after being closed down.