Piracy Sites Lose Big Name Adverts

An anti-piracy police squad has said it has instigated a significant drop in the number of "big name" ads appearing on copyright-infringing sites.

The scheme, conducted by the force, has said to "almost entirely" stop UK campaigns in the food/drink and property sectors being placed on illegal web pages.

It involves a black list shared with ad brokers whose software determines where ads go, and was launched by the City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in 2013.

Hundreds of sites now appear on the list; however owners are given the chance to remove illegal material before their platforms are included on the list, which has not been made public yet.

PIPCU has said there has been a 73% drop in advertising from the UK's "top ad spending companies" on the affected sites, signifying a reduction in their income and a removal of their "look of legitimacy".

Their research comes from a firm that provides online intellectual property services and surveyed the ads placed on 17 sites offering unauthorised access to TV shows, music and games.

The firm's chief executive explained that ads are typically targeted at a local audience, for example, a UK-based web user will normally see ads funded by a British campaign even if the site is based elsewhere.

Bendert Zevenbergen from the Oxford Internet Institute had mixed feelings about the effort.

He said: "It shows copyright enforcement activities are no longer focused on violating internet users' fundamental and civil rights by monitoring all internet traffic, censorship, and shady political deals, as was the case just a few years ago.

"However, if a few [advertising] sectors do indeed pull out, others will automatically take their place, and the effect on the website's income may be negligible.

"The strategy also does not tackle the underlying problem.

"Internet users demand ubiquitous access to quality content - for which they would gladly pay - so the creative industries would do better to focus their efforts on making their catalogues available on innovative internet-based distribution channels, like Spotify and Netflix, or invest in creating new user friendly services online."

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