While websites that host infringing content are host to millions of users daily, few of these users pay money for the sites’ services. Instead, advertising from consumer brands does. In another step towards severing the “unholy alliance” between on-site advertisers and piracy websites that host infringing content, the British Government’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has published a video to educate actors about this issue. This video is a part of a campaign by the PIPCU to educate advertisers and deter their use of piracy sites to host their advertisements. According to the video, of the top 500 IP infringing sites, 294 contained “well-known recognized brands.” That well-known consumer brands care more about reaching key demographics than IP compliance has been known to the PIPCU for a long time, and now, thanks to its education efforts, this problem is becoming known to the greater public. The PIPCU also runs the Infringing Website List, a list of websites that have infringing content, in the hopes that it will reduce ad-revenue for these infringing sites. According to the PIPCU, that well-known consumer brands are advertised along pirated content not only encourages infringement because it helps fund the site, it also makes the website look legitimate, as if the brand endorsees the website. The PIPCU is reversing the trend of well-known brands being promoting piracy by framing it as a legitimacy crisis for the brands themselves, stating that “brands are tarnishing their reputations and paying for the privilege.” The U.K. I.P. Office reports that U.K. advertisers have appeared 73% less often on piracy sites since the launch of the campaign.
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Jennifer Marr is an Entertainment and Sports Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2018).