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This article was published on July 29, 2014


    The UK cracks down on copyright-infringing sites by replacing ads with warning banners

    The UK cracks down on copyright-infringing sites by replacing ads with warning banners
    Kaylene Hong
    Story by

    Kaylene Hong

    Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.

    If you’re in the UK and access a website that offers pirated content, don’t be surprised to see a pop-up banner warning you that the site is under investigation and advising you to close the browser.

    The intellectual property crime unit (PIPCU), run by the City of London Police, has started replacing paid-for ads on these copyright-infringing websites with such warning banners, in a bid to disrupt a source of revenue that these sites typically rely on.

    The head of PIPCU, Andy Fyfe, says in a statement that this will also help consumers: “When adverts from well known brands appear on illegal websites, they lend them a look of legitimacy and inadvertently fool consumers into thinking the site is authentic.”

    The police force worked together with ad-tech firm Project Sunblock to come up with such warning banners, as part of an initiative called Operation Creative that ties up with creative and advertising industries in the UK to prevent sites from feeding users illegal copyright-infringing content.

    The sites that are being targeted have been reported to the police by rights holders who have to provide detailed evidence of how the site is involved in illegal copyright infringement, after which they will be evaluated and verified. The police will first contact the site owner to offer a chance to correct the behavior and choose to operate legitimately — if not, authorities will seek suspension of the site from the domain registrar or replace ads to disrupt revenue.

    Headline image via Dan Kitwood/Getty Images