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IP Police call for industry support

April 7, 2014

By Colin Mann

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) based in the City of London Police has called upon advertisers and brand holders to continue to support its work to tackle Intellectual Property crime following the launch of its Infringing Website List (IWL). The IWL, the first of its kind to be developed, sets out to disrupt the advertising revenues on illegal websites globally.

The initiative forms part of the unit’s Operation Creative, designed to disrupt and prevent websites from providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content, in partnership with the creative and advertising industries.

The IWL is an online portal providing the digital advertising sector with an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, identified by the creative industries and evidenced and verified by the City of London Police unit, so that advertisers, agencies and other intermediaries can cease advert placement on these illegal websites.

Disrupting advertising is a vital part of Operation Creative, as advertising is a key generator of criminal profits for websites providing access to infringing content. A recent report by the Digital Citizens Alliance estimated that in 2013 piracy websites generated $227m from advertising

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, head of PIPCU, said that if an advert from an established brand appeared on an infringing website, not only did it lend the site a look of legitimacy, but inadvertently the brand and advertiser were funding online crime. “Therefore the IWL also serves as a safety tool, ensuring the reputation of advertisers and brands are not discredited through association with illegal websites.”

The introduction of the IWL follows a three month pilot that took place in 2013 in collaboration with the Operation Creative partners; the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), The Publishers Association, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

The pilot saw a clear and positive trend, with a 12 per cent reduction in advertising from major household brands on the identified illegal websites. The pilot also revealed that almost half (46 per cent) of ads served to the sites clicked through to fraudulent scams.

Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey said the creative industries were a real UK success story. “They are now worth £71.4 billion a year to the UK economy and grew faster than all other sectors of UK industry in 2012. It is essential we protect our creative industries from people ripping off their content online. Disrupting the money unlawful websites make from advertising could make a real difference to the fight against copyright infringement. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved through industry, Government and law enforcement working together.”

Andy Muddimer, Head of Digital at Santander and one of the IWL pilot participants, said the damage to brand reputation when online ads appear on illegal websites was a real concern for advertisers. “Following a successful pilot involving Santander and six other ISBA members, we are pleased that the IWL is now available. This simple-to-use, online resource provides welcome reassurance which we would urge all online advertisers to pass on to the agencies they employ to serve their ads .”

PIPCU has been set up to protect UK industries that produce legitimate, high-quality, physical goods and online and digital content.

The operationally-independent unit launched in September 2013 and is initially being funded by the Intellectual Property Office, which is part of the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

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