Operation Creative, backed by ad industry and film, music and TV trade bodies, seeks to stop legitimate brands’ campaigns appearing on pirate websites..
A police operation to starve websites offering pirated films, music, books and TV shows of income has resulted in a decrease of more than 70% in advertising appearing on illegal sites.
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit said there has been a 73% decrease in advertising from the UK’s top spending companies appearing on illegal websites since it launched a crackdown in 2013.
For the last two years, the PIPCU has been running Operation Creative, with the backing of the ad industry and trade bodies representing the film, music, TV and publishing industry, to try to stop the flow of ad funds which are one of the main generators of profits for illegal sites.
The PIPCU, which earlier this year added the Gambling Commission as a partner to help stop gambling ads appearing on illegal sites, cites an estimate that in 2013 piracy websites generated $227m (£145m) from advertising.
“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,” said John Hodge, from music industry trade body the BPI’s copyright protection unit.
“Legitimate household 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”.
The PIPCU, which is funded by the Intellectual Property Office until 2017, runs what is called the Infringing Website List of illegal sites to which the creative industry can refer to make sure ad campaigns do not appear.
“The criminals behind these sites are making substantial sums of money from advertising and inadvertently brands and advertisers are funding this online crime,” said detective chief inspector Peter Ratcliffe, head of the PIPCU.
“Working closely with rights holders and the advertising industry, the PIPCU has been able to lead the way with tackling copyright infringing sites by successfully disrupting advertising revenue.”