The Internet has revolutionized how our world obtains and retains information, but it’s not always pretty. Too many sites today, in particular music or movie download pages, function by way of illegal or questionable activity. In the United Kingdom, steps are being taken to take pages like these out of commission.
Police in the U.K. have placed ads on “pirate” sites, warning visitors to those sites that the page has been reported to authorities. The City of London Police spent the past year working together with the music and movie industries to cut down on pirated content in an endeavor called Operation Creative.
The operation aims to educate consumers to the consequences of pirated content, as well as crack down on sites that offer unlicensed services. The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has also informed advertisers to keep their promotions away from pirate pages, thus depriving those pages of cash flow from ad revenue. The new angle, then, is for the police to place their own ads on troublesome sites, saying things like, “This website has been reported to the police! Please close the browser page containing this website.”
Another aim of the program is to stop site visitors from buying into a site’s legitimacy based on the “big brand” support it may appear to have. However, a caveat arises in the fact that major brands, including big-name music or movie labels, may indirectly be financing ads that appear on pirate sites. For instance, a particular mp3 download site, which has been requested for takedown thousands of times, features a pop-up ad from a company active in the Federation Against Copyright Theft. There has been no suggestion that this ironic correlation is deliberate, but it does imply that certain companies’ ads are financing the very sites the companies want to eliminate.
Hopefully the police ads can still serve as a deterrent for pirate sites, and advertisements can be used to promote the good, not the ugly, of the Internet.
Edited by Maurice Nagle