U.K. Police Attempt to Undermine Illegal Torrent Sites Using Their Own Ads

By placing police notices where brand advertisements generally are, U.K. police hope to deter users from the sites. 

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Police in London have decided to place anti-piracy advertisements on illegal torrent sites. They hope their own notices will help to decrease ad revenue for the sites in addition to drawing attention to their illegal activity.

Currently, torrent sites receive most of their advertisements from syndication networks. Many legitimate brands and companies have their advertisements available in such networks, and often don't realize they will be advertising on an illegal torrent site. These ads make the website look legitimate and legal, essentially offering a cover.

The police department will work with the British advertising technology firm Project Sunblock on 'Operation Creative.' Together, they can ensure that these legitimate brand advertisements do not pop up on the illegal sites. Project Sunblock will be given access to the police department's list of "infringing websites" and instead of displaying an ad, they will show a police notice explaining the site is "under investigation." The notice also suggests the user close their browser. Through this method, the police will not pay the torrent site for using the ad space.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe told Forbes,

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. 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.”

This comes after the U.K. government changed their laws in regards to illegal file sharing. There is now a warning system which sends four letters to those found downloading and sharing pirated files. However, no criminal action is taken after the four letters are sent. This change came after "years of negotiation between ISPs, the Motion Picture Association, and the British Phonographic Industry."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.