Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit tackles digital piracy
On Wednesday 11 January 2017 officers from the City of London Police’s
Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) visited organisations found to be
advertising on websites involved in digital piracy.
Officers from the unit visited eight organisations including brands,
advertising agencies and networks, as part of a multi-agency initiative
known as Operation Creative, which sees the police working with both the
creative and advertising industries to tackle websites involved in digital
The initiative, which was launched in 2013, compromises several tactical
options, including placing piracy sites on an Infringing Website List (IWL)
which is then shared with advertisers, agencies and other intermediaries so
that they can cease advert placement on these illegal websites.
Disrupting advertising is a vital part of Operation Creative, as websites
involved in digital piracy can generate substantial amounts of revenue
through advert placement. In 2013 the Digital Citizens Alliance published a
report that revealed piracy sites were generating $227 million (US) from
Eight organisations were visited by PIPCU officers and representatives from
Operation Creative partners including FACT, BPI (British Phonographic
Industry), IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) and
PRS for music.
During the visits, the eight companies were made aware of their involvement
in the placement of ads on copyright infringing sites. All of the
organisations were keen to support Operation Creative and have pledged to
sign up to the IWL to ensure advert placement from their brand and clients
do not appear on the 1,232 websites listed on the IWL.
Since launch, Operation Creative has disrupted advertising revenues on
illegal websites across the globe and has seen a significant decrease (73%)
in advertising from the UK’s top ad spending companies to websites involved
in digital piracy.
Operation Creative’s lead officer Detective Constable Steven Salway said,
“Operation Creative is key to ending the funding of websites involved in
“It is important we tackle this issue, not only for brands and businesses’
reputation, but for consumers too.
“When adverts from established brands appear on these sites, they lend them
a look of legitimacy. By working with industry to discourage reputable
brands from advertising on piracy sites, we will help consumers realise
these sites are neither official nor legal.”
Director General of FACT, Kieron Sharp, said “FACT is a proud original
partner of Operation Creative and is keen to support PIPCU on increasing
awareness of this initiative to brands and the advertising community.
“PIPCU’s IWL is the first of its kind and is a great tool for businesses to
protect their brand reputation by ensuring their adverts don’t appear on
“Consumers need to be aware that not only are the criminals behind these
websites making substantial amounts of money from adverts, but simply
visiting the sites can put the public at risk of malware, viruses and
To ensure you are accessing digital content from safe and legitimate sites