Cops start replacing adverts on pirate sites with copyright warnings

The City of London police will start pasting banners on copyright-infringing sites warning users to go elsewhere.

The City of London police began a new phase in its anti-piracy campaign this week, announcing that ads on "copyright infringing sites" will be replaced with anti-piracy equivalents.

The initiative, launched by the force's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) on Monday, will show UK visitors to the sites banner adverts that warn the user that the site is currently under criminal investigation and advising them to leave the website.

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According to the PIPCU, the banners will replace the sites' own advertising using technology from content verification company Project Sunblock.

The operation will target sites that have been reported to the unit by rightsholders and been found to host copyright-infringing material, PIPCU said. The police's own adverts will then be shown on the sites if they turn down the police's overtures to go straight.

"The site owner is contacted by PIPCU and offered the opportunity to engage with the police, to correct their behaviour and to begin to operate legitimately," the force said. If they don't, then the replacement ads will begin appearing.

Along with ad campaign, the force can undertake other measures as part of its ongoing anti-piracy initiative Operation Creative. The City of London police can also attempt to get a site suspended by its registrar, or add the site to the Infringing Website List.

The list is given to online advertisers in an effort to discourage them from placing ads on the infringing sites, thereby cutting down the revenue they make from pirated material.

The anti-piracy ads will be followed by a system of "educational letters" sent to those who repeatedly upload copyrighted content to pirate sites.

From next year, suspected pirates will get up to four such letters annually from their ISPs, though if they ignore the epistles, no further action will be taken against them.

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