Monday 31 March 2014

FAST, PIPCU and the IWL: encouraging, but not enough

"FAST welcomes move to restrict ad revenue for pirate sites: PIPCU establishes advertising take down scheme" is the excited headline of a media release that recently tumbled into this blogger's in-box. The release reads as follows:
The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has applauded an initiative launched by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), which hopes to starve pirate websites of advertising revenue, making these outfits unprofitable.

PIPCU is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and run by the City of London Police to combat IP crimes. Established in 2013, the unit has been instrumental in orchestrating the take down of numerous illicit sites.

Its latest initiative, the Infringing Website List (IWL), will see it working closely with advertisers and the industry to starve pirate sites of the oxygen that is advertising revenue. The IWL is an online portal providing the digital advertising sector with an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, as identified by the creative industries and evidenced and verified by the City of London Police unit, so that advertisers can cease placing adverts on these sites.

An initial pilot saw an encouraging trend, with a 12 per cent reduction from major household brands on the identified illegal sites. The pilot also revealed that 46 per cent of ads served to the sites clicked through to fraudulent scams. ..."
While any approach to online piracy that seeks to reduce the volume of advertising revenue enjoyed by pirates is to be welcomed, this blogger doubts whether this approach will even come close to making the sort of inroads into online piracy that will make the business an unattractive proposition.  He would also like to see more attention focused on the banks and credit card companies which receive the monies paid to pirates by IP-owning advertisers, other pirates and consumers alike.  Perhaps if they were to become jointly liable with their pirate clients for acts of online piracy they might make a better job of the sort of due diligence that is so manifestly inadequate today.  Does anyone know how much profit the world's major banking and financial institutions earn from pirate clients? It would be good to know.

Parties interested in signing up to the IWL can email

1 comment:

Clive Bruton said...

Jeremy, you make an interesting point in asking if the focus should not be turned instead on the financial institutions that handle the money for these pirate sites? What I would propose is that the advertising distribution mechanisms come under scrutiny for liability in that regard.

The likes of Google and DoubleClick make it easy for pirate sites to sign up for advertising placements, without verification of who they are and for what purpose their audience is visiting. Relatively innocent advertisers end up with their ads displayed on these sites with minimal control over the distribution.

In some cases these advertisers are content creators whose own work, or those of related businesses, is being distributed via such sites. So, a little bit of education for the advertising buying teams might also be in order.