London Police to use pop-up ads to flag illegal websites

Internet scam

The City of London police is to serve pop-up adverts on websites that contain copyrighted material, warning customers the site is undergoing a criminal investigation before encouraging them to leave it.

The initiative is part of latest phase of Operation Creative, set up by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at the City of London Police, and is designed to prevent websites offering copyrighted content illegally to continue trading.

Head of PIPCU, DCI Andy Fyfe explained the initiative is two fold: it will deter innocent people from using the sites and possibly exposing personal information such as credit card details and will also prevent the websites earning any advertising revenue, cutting their funding.

DCI Fyfe said: "This new initiative is another step forward for the unit in tackling IP crime and disrupting criminal profits. 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."

The sites have been identified by the copyright holders and evidence supplied to PIPCU demonstrating their rights over the material being offered.

Content verification technology provider, Project Sunblock, which specialises in brand safety campaigns, is serving the ads across the identified websites.

In May, PIPCU blocked a number of sites that were distributing copyrighted material including, one of the world's most-used torrent sites.

PIPCU explained that to close down sites it invites the creative industries to report websites it believes is infringing copyright and then evaluates them.

The site owner is contacted if PIPCU believes the sites are infringing copyright and if they choose to ignore the request, PIPCU will ask the domain registrar to block the site.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.