City of London places advertising banners on illegitimate sites

Advertising on illegal file sharing websites is about to change after the Police announced that it has secured prime placement at the top of pages to warn users that the site in question is currently under investigation.

Related: Game of Thrones illegal downloads targeted by London Police in copyright crackdown

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit [PIPCU] run by the City of London Police is working with Project Sunblock to place the banner ads at the top of copyright infringing sites with messages from the force making clear that it is looking into the site.

Each banner also asks that users close the site and Police believe the move pulls away a layer of authenticity that legitimate banner ads sometimes give sites.

“This work also helps us to protect 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,” said head of PIPCU, DCI Andy Fyfe.

Before the banner ad method is applied, officers from PIPCU evaluate sites to ascertain whether they are infringing copyright. If this is the case then the unit contacts the site owner to offer a dialogue that urges them to operate within the law.

It’s only when a site fails to comply with the Police that a range of methods are employed such as seeking suspension of the site from the domain registrar, advert replacement or being placed on the Infringing Website List [IWL].

At the heart of the initiative is technology provided by Project Sunblock, which is already used by major brands to stop their adverts appearing alongside questionable content like pornography or pirated material. In this case it will work by displaying a Police ad on any site that is part of the IWL provided by PIPCU.

Related: 2,500 websites selling dodgy knock offs shut down by Police

No money has been handed over by the Police to display the ads and it’s part of the wider Operation Creative that is run between the Police and advertising industry.

Image Credit: BBC