In the UK, a ground-breaking initiative led by the new Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) to target websites providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content has shown an immediate global impact. The work of Operation Creative, designed to tackle internet-enabled crime, has seen 40 national and international websites suspended by domain name registrars: many of the websites generate substantial revenues from advertising.
At the same time an innovative three month pilot designed to disrupt advertising revenues on infringing websites has seen a clear and positive trend, with a reduction in advertising from major household brands…
Rights holders identified 61 websites that were providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content. Once illegal activity was confirmed by analysts from the City of London Police, a formal ‘prevention and deterrent’ process began to encourage infringing websites to engage with the Police, to correct their behaviour and to begin to operate legitimately.
Details of those failing to respond to this approach were then passed to a group of 60 brands, agencies and advertising technology businesses with a request to stop advertising on these websites.
The next phase of Operation Creative targeted the websites that persisted in offending. PIPCU sent out formal letters to domain name registrars explaining that they were hosting websites facilitating criminal copyright infringement under UK law as well as potentially breaching their terms and conditions. Registrars were then requested to suspend these websites until further notice. These sites are now under an on-going review by PIPCU officers.