Run by the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), a groundbreaking operation designed to disrupt illegal websites providing pirated access to films, TV, books, music and games has seen major success. Indeed, new research shows that, in the course of the last 12 months, there has been an 87% drop in adverts for licensed gambling operators being displayed on illegal sites that infringe copyright.
Action was taken to help prevent licensed gambling operators from inadvertently providing revenue to those committing crime online, which runs counter to their licensing objective under the Gambling Act 2005 to “keep crime out of gambling”.
Through the Infringing Website List (IWL), gambling operators are provided with an up-to-date register of copyright-infringing sites, in turn allowing them to stop advert placement on these illegal domains.
In October last year, The Gambling Commission made placing digital adverts responsibly a licensing condition for all gambling operators targeting consumers in Great Britain. This condition means that licensees must not place adverts on illegal websites, while they must also take all reasonable steps to ensure that third parties under contract with them adopt exactly the same approach. These illegal websites harm not only the UK’s creative industries, but also the UK consumer.
The new research was conducted by whiteBULLET, a global data company specialising in brand safety solutions and providing transparency on digital advertising on Intellectual Property (IP)-infringing websites. Data was gathered on 40 gambling operators who hold a Gambling Commission licence and are current members of the IWL. The results are positive for these gambling companies whose overriding aim is to prevent their advertising budgets ending up in the hands of criminals.
Acting Detective Superintendent Peter Ratcliffe, head of the PIPCU, observed: “The success of a strong relationship built between PIPCU and The Gambling Commission can be seen in these figures. This is a fantastic example of a joint working initiative between the police service and an industry regulator. We commend the 40 gambling companies who are already using the Infringing Website List and encourage others to sign up. We’ll continue to encourage all UK advertisers to become a member of the Infringing Website List in order to ensure they’re not inadvertently funding criminal websites.”
Tim Moss, CEO of the UK Intellectual Property Office, added: “Partnership work is clearly having a major impact on IP crime right across the UK. PIPCU and The Gambling Commission have cut off yet another illicit revenue stream for unscrupulous IP thieves. The Government and its partners will continue to fight IP crime in all of its forms. Those wishing to profit from the hard work of others will not have an easy ride.”
Clearly, the most significant progress has been made where brands work with the IWL and use whiteBULLET’s data to identify advertising networks and affiliates who repeatedly put their brands at risk. Importantly, brands and advertising businesses now have the tools to protect both themselves and consumers.