The City of London police has started placing anti-piracy warnings on a range of websites offering illegal downloads.
Replacing traditional paid banner ads, the new police warnings request visitors close their browsers and avoid engaging in any illegal activity. They have been instilled as part of a crackdown on piracy sites making money from advertising – their main income source.
"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," Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe from the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (Pipcu) said.
"This new initiative is another step forward for the unit in tackling IP crime and disrupting criminal profits.”
He added: "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."
Messages being displayed to visitors to the dodgy download sites read: “This website has been reported to the police. Please close the browser page containing this website.”
Although acting as a deterrent, it is currently unclear how the police intend to further monitor and punish the use of illegal download sites.
The police warnings are being automatically served to questionable websites thanks Project Sunblock technology.
Project Sunblock detects when syndication adverts – generalised ads offered through a wholesaler of sorts – are being served to websites on Pipcu’s Infringing Websites List. Once detected, the police warning is served in place of the branded ad.
Duncan Trigg, CEO of Project Sunblock stated: “Without realising it, advertisers are allowing their brands to be associated with illegal sites, and regrettably, this happens more often than it should. But each time it does, brands are effectively putting money in the back pocket of criminals."
Last week it emerged that UK citizens who illegally download digital content will start receiving warning emails in the near future.
Although another deterrent to would be downloaders, there are currently no repercussions for those who choose to ignore these warnings.
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