Police take out 40 websites for copyright infringement

Internet scam

The City of London Police's intellectual property crime unit has helped suspend 40 websites for providing unauthorised access to copyrighted material.

The takedowns were the result of a three-month pilot campaign, dubbed Operation Creative. Its aim was to combat internet-enabled crime and disrupt the advertising revenues on infringing websites.

During the pilot, 61 websites were pinpointed by rights holders for providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content.

The presence of illegal content was confirmed by City of London Police analysts, prompting the organisation to embark on a formal "prevention and deterrent" process.

During this, site owners were encouraged to work with the police to correct their behaviour and start operating within the law.

Guest editor Stefan Simons says:

"I'm guessing this is mainly about music and video downloads...While it is definitely right to crack down on these illegal deeds, I'd also like to see the copyright owners find a better way of licensing their material."

It is claimed adverts from well-known brands fell by 12 per cent as a result of the pilot, while ones leading users to sites featuring explicit adult content or malware increased by 39 per cent.

The organisation has attributed this rise to the fact website owners often struggle to maintain their revenue streams when adverts from established brands are withdrawn.

After this, the domain name registrars hosting the offending sites were sent letters informing them that said sites featured copyrighted material and this could constitute a breach of their terms and conditions.

Registrars were then asked to suspend the sites until further notice, which are now subject to an on-going review by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

Superintendent Bob Wishart from PIPCU, said the success of the initiative is down to the fact the process encourages offenders to alter their behaviour to bring their operations into line.

"If they refuse to comply we now have the means to persuade businesses to move their advertising to different platforms and, if offending continues, for registrars to suspend websites," he explained.

"The success of Creative thus far is evidence of a growing international consensus that people should not be allowed to illegally profiteer from the honest endeavours of legitimate business enterprises."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.