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PIPCU hails success of its ‘follow the money’ anti-piracy work

By | Published on Wednesday 12 August 2015

City Of London Police

The City Of London Police’s IP Crime Unit – or PIPCU, if you insist – has hailed the success of its Operation Creative anti-piracy initiative, and in particular its efforts to stop companies placing ads on copyright infringing websites, through lobbying, education and an Infringing Website List.

The police unit says that there has been a 73% decrease in advertising from the UK’s top ad spending companies on copyright infringing websites. The automotive, food, drink and real estate sectors have been most proactive so that, apparently, pretty much no advertising seeps through from them to piracy sites, even via ad networks where brands and their ad agencies traditionally had less day-to-day control over where their ads appeared.

Operation Creative was part of the ‘follow the money’ approach to combating piracy promoted by former MP and IP Advisor to David Cameron, Mike Weatherly. Though stopping ads from big brands from landing on piracy sites is not just about cutting off the pirates’ income (given less legit advertisers likely continue to fill those ad spots), but also because of concerns that big brand ads give illegal sites the look of legitimacy.

Responding to the new stats brag from PIPCU, the government’s IP Minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe said this morning: “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 on copyright infringing sites, protecting our industries and consumers from online crime”.

Meanwhile, John Hodge from the Copyright Protection Unit at record industry trade group the BPI had this to say: “Advertising on pirate sites is an income stream for those acting unlawfully and helps to fuel millions of pounds of illegal activity on the internet. The growth and expansion of Operation Creative into a range of sectors, including the recently-formed partnership with the Gambling Commission driven forward by BPI, demonstrates how the initiative is resonating with legitimate household brands”.

He went on: “These brands have no desire to see their name appear on sites that harm or defraud customers, fund criminal activity and support the illegal distribution of valued content such as music. We hope more brands will come forward to use the updated Infringing Website List being launched today – and we’d urge all music fans and consumers to take care when downloading, streaming or purchasing music online”.