updated 04:15 pm EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
Replacement ads state that a site has been reported, branded with force logo
The City of London Police is taking a new approach when it comes to curbing piracy. The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) recently started replacing advertising banners on websites involved with copyright infringement, warning users that the site is known to authorities. The move is aimed at cutting off revenue streams on sites promoting intellectual property (IP) theft, even when the ads are legitimate.
Swapping the ads is part of Operation Creative, a strategic endeavor that pairs the PIPCU with other facets of the advertising and creative industries. The intent of the operation is to "disrupt and prevent websites form providing unauthorized access to copyrighted content." As part of the effort to crack down on illegal activities on the Internet, the operation stated it was able to shut down 40 sites in January.
The new ads inform the website visitor that the site has been reported to the authorities, namely the PIPCU. In the new banners, which feature the logo of the City of London Police as indicated by the BBC, patrons are urged to "close the browser page containing this website."
"This new initiative is another step forward for the unit in tackling IP crime and disrupting criminal profits," said DCI Andy Fyfe, head of the PIPCU. "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."
The PIPCU has some outside help when it comes to serving the replacement ads by an advertising technology firm called Project Sunblock. The firm, which specializes in brand protection, keeps track of websites that are reported to the PIPCU as an infringing site. When an ad call comes in Project Sunblock serves the alternate ad warning, then reports back to the advertiser with the results.
Sites that have been served the alternate ads have been contacted by the police division and given a chance to operate legitimately before other action is taken. On top of being tracked as a part of the Infringing Website list, the PIPCU are also pursuing site suspension at the domain registrar level.