City of London police fight piracy by ad switching

The City of London police has a novel tactic in dealing with websites that promote piracy or illegal content. They’re trying to deprive such websites of their advertising income and possibly scare a few users away in the meantime.

The BBC is reporting that the City of London police has employed a program where websites dealing with illegal content will have their banner ads replaced by stern police warnings. As such users will be warned to stay away while the website will lose advertising revenue.

The system will use something called Project Sunblock, a program that’s used by some major retailers to make sure their ads don’t show up next to unsavoury content that would damage their brand. You can think of it as AdBlock for the advertisers.

Of course, much like filtering, this method of depriving websites of their primary source of revenue has a number of people worried. Who’s to say that the automated system won’t wrongly flag a legitimate website when they’re simply covering news pertaining to an illegal activity? Such cases have popped up time and time again and they can pose a serious threat to a website’s wellbeing.

Source: PIPCU via: BBC | Image courtesy of the BBC

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Facebook completely moves chat to the Messenger app

Next Story

Rumor: Lumia 730 to launch next month with Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 [Update]

46 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

goretsky said,
Hello,

One thing that I do not understand is who exactly is paying for these advertisements?

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

No one is paying for advertising. They are basically stopping the ads from displaying, and simply displaying those notices. They're not paying to do that, they are doing it via the service noted in the article.

Please all, go code some software, spend several hours of your life doing it, don't have any vacations just to finish it on time, only to find out someone is pirating it, making you earning zero from it and you go watching people on forums arguing "was it theft or was it copyright?" and "it's the dev fault for not using proper protection"; then you comeback here and i dare you to stay on your opinion that piracy isn't bad.

The sad fact is that most people will pirate music, films, software and so on and don't give a crap towards the creators; in fact this does damage the business, because not only they are using that downloaded info that they didn't payed in the first place, but they also share it with their friends, so there's a contamination case as well (the friends would probably rent that movie but since a friend gave them a copy of the movie, then why bother to rent it?).

Music, for example: i know an awful lot of people that pirate music everyday, even with cheap sub services like Spotify; just a small part of them goes into concerts to see their favourite bands and none of them bought the music. There is an positive side in this: small bands get attention, but that's just a small part of the music population, because the rest of the bands depend alot of concerts revenue and sales of CDs; if they don't sell (tickets or CDs) then they don't get money after all. Sure, some bands get recognized because of piracy, but the majority of them don't.

Or software, for example: cloud apps or VDI are getting more clients everyday because it allows those companies that make the platform an almost 100% piracy free environment.

Now, i agree that some business models are old and need to change: Steam started the new trend for providing a better quality product that piracy can't beat; Spotify or Online radios provide an immense arsenal of music (old or new) for a low price or even free, much better then to find and download those in shady sites (also the time one must loose in finding music in shady sites). And Netflix provides films and series in a fast, cheap way. Those are the services that adapted / born because of the situation; old business models like CD sales, cinema tickets and retail software are dying everyday.

So does piracy damages the business?
Yes.
Does it help a small subsect of the artists (getting found and recogniton, hits on youtube, etc.?
Yes
Is it theft?
legally it's copyright infringement, but the fact is some information changed hands and the creator or owner of that information didn't got payed for that transaction; it's amoral at best and it damages the financial lifes of the creators or owners of such information, at worse.

Praetor said,
Please all, go code some software, spend several hours of your life doing it, don't have any vacations just to finish it on time, only to find out someone is pirating it, making you earning zero from it and you go watching people on forums arguing "was it theft or was it copyright?" and "it's the dev fault for not using proper protection"; then you comeback here and i dare you to stay on your opinion that piracy isn't bad.

The sad fact is that most people will pirate music, films, software and so on and don't give a crap towards the creators; in fact this does damage the business, because not only they are using that downloaded info that they didn't payed in the first place, but they also share it with their friends, so there's a contamination case as well (the friends would probably rent that movie but since a friend gave them a copy of the movie, then why bother to rent it?).

Music, for example: i know an awful lot of people that pirate music everyday, even with cheap sub services like Spotify; just a small part of them goes into concerts to see their favourite bands and none of them bought the music. There is an positive side in this: small bands get attention, but that's just a small part of the music population, because the rest of the bands depend alot of concerts revenue and sales of CDs; if they don't sell (tickets or CDs) then they don't get money after all. Sure, some bands get recognized because of piracy, but the majority of them don't.

Or software, for example: cloud apps or VDI are getting more clients everyday because it allows those companies that make the platform an almost 100% piracy free environment.

Now, i agree that some business models are old and need to change: Steam started the new trend for providing a better quality product that piracy can't beat; Spotify or Online radios provide an immense arsenal of music (old or new) for a low price or even free, much better then to find and download those in shady sites (also the time one must loose in finding music in shady sites). And Netflix provides films and series in a fast, cheap way. Those are the services that adapted / born because of the situation; old business models like CD sales, cinema tickets and retail software are dying everyday.

So does piracy damages the business?
Yes.
Does it help a small subsect of the artists (getting found and recogniton, hits on youtube, etc.?
Yes
Is it theft?
legally it's copyright infringement, but the fact is some information changed hands and the creator or owner of that information didn't got payed for that transaction; it's amoral at best and it damages the financial lifes of the creators or owners of such information, at worse.

Look, you've said a lot, and I'll be honest, I couldn't be assed reading a lot of it, because you started to dribble a bit.

You make some very valid points, which I agree with. I don't download music illegally any more because of Spotify. I pay the cheap price, and I have heaps of music for my drive to and from work.

However, lets look at software. I could use the example of it being cheaper to purchase a return ticket to the USA from Australia, buy Master Suite over there, and bring it home, than it is for me to drive 5 minutes up the road an purchase it. That's pure greed. Nothing else.

I go to the store to buy a new release game for a console and I need to part with $90 - $120. Again, it's greed.

I understand companies are profit driven, but just like politicians, executives who earn top dollar are simply out of touch with life and the people who are buying these products. If they lowered their prices, they might just get some of the everyday pirates to spend money. But they don't give a ######.

Nashy said,

Look, you've said a lot, and I'll be honest, I couldn't be assed reading a lot of it, because you started to dribble a bit.

You make some very valid points, which I agree with. I don't download music illegally any more because of Spotify. I pay the cheap price, and I have heaps of music for my drive to and from work.

However, lets look at software. I could use the example of it being cheaper to purchase a return ticket to the USA from Australia, buy Master Suite over there, and bring it home, than it is for me to drive 5 minutes up the road an purchase it. That's pure greed. Nothing else.

I go to the store to buy a new release game for a console and I need to part with $90 - $120. Again, it's greed.

I understand companies are profit driven, but just like politicians, executives who earn top dollar are simply out of touch with life and the people who are buying these products. If they lowered their prices, they might just get some of the everyday pirates to spend money. But they don't give a ######.

lol the part of the dribble is truth, i was dead tired! :D

about the greed part: you live in Australia, right? That's the problem in there: it seems that companies abuse the financial system, selling digital goods in an outrageous prices. That's something that you, as the consumer, must fight by not buying those same products or complaining with your trading association or similar.

And Adobe is no good example: in my country they lowered their prices for the Adobe Cloud and increased the prices for the retail products: this is pretty clear that they are pressuring consumers into the cloud based software and discarding the old model of retail.

But yeah, most new AAA games are expensive, for example and top applications are not cheap as well :/

abecedarian paradoxious said,
Fairly easy to see, simply by scrolling, which users support the content creators and which users support themselves.

Why?

Piracy can actually be helpful to companies that produce good content. I've pirated stuff, liked it and then bought it.

But that pales in comparison to the stuff I paid for and thought "Wow, that was garbage, I wish I'd pirated it."

The companies only have themselves to blame, most people are reasonably honest but they do want a decent idea of what they're paying for before they do.

boo_star said,

Why?

Piracy can actually be helpful to companies that produce good content. I've pirated stuff, liked it and then bought it.


Try teaching, I mean telling that to Metallica. ;)
Funny how that works.

You can give me Linux all day long and I'll still buy a copy of Windows.

These guys are idiots. They claim that these sites make "lots of money" from Ad Revenue, which infact they do. OINK was making like £20k a month at one point. Yet they have obviously paid for Ad slots on these sites WITH may I add...Tax Payers money. Who is funding these ridiculous schemes, More to the point who are they paying to come up with these ridiculous schemes.

ChuckFinley said,
These guys are idiots. They claim that these sites make "lots of money" from Ad Revenue, which infact they do. OINK was making like £20k a month at one point. Yet they have obviously paid for Ad slots on these sites WITH may I add...Tax Payers money. Who is funding these ridiculous schemes, More to the point who are they paying to come up with these ridiculous schemes.

are they really paying for ad space, or are they using some type of DPI system to inject their ads over what would be there via their ISP connections

Sorry, should have probably made this clearer in the article: they are NOT paying for the ads. The police haven't bought those ad spaces and the websites don't make any money. As I said it's kinda like reverse Adblock.

Yeah, imagine that. Actually paying for a product instead of stealing it. I guess some of you just expect content creators to not care about getting paid for their work. Rationalize it any way you want. Good job, London Police!

Hey, try this: Work all week expecting to be paid and then have your boss tell you someone stole your paycheck. Oh well, tough luck!

Piracy, like shoplifting, causes prices to be raised for those of us who do live life with integrity. A certain percentage of the cost of just about anything you buy is to cover those who choose to steal it. So thank a thief today!

Alera said,
Piracy isn't theft, try again.

Let's not get bend out on a definition... in the end there is money that would of normally changed hands for a product to get into someone else's hands that did not change hands... theft, piracy, larceny, call it what ever you want money that would normally of been required to get a product didn't move to get the product.. physically taking it from someone or copying it prevented which prevented a sale of the item stopped that action... "you wouldn't copy a car, would you?"... now days it's getting more possible with 3D printers... we've only taken something and given a faster path to take it... old days you had to steel a record as a normal person, a normal person didn't have the ability to stamp vynal, now days you can download it... we only made the copying mechanism easier to do for the general public

If you have a 3D printer and "copy" something you are creating you own version not stealing, same as piracy. Now if you went and started selling them and claiming them as legit that would be an issue. Also piracy is used when the content is not available to you at all in such cases as region blocking.

Bertch said,
If you have a 3D printer and "copy" something you are creating you own version not stealing, same as piracy. Now if you went and started selling them and claiming them as legit that would be an issue. Also piracy is used when the content is not available to you at all in such cases as region blocking.

I am saying we need to stop the whole it's theft or piracy argument... in the end someone took information from another that was using that information to make a profit... something was still taken at some point, which is not getting future profits from potential sales (hint, the potential sale wouldn't of been a sale argument is also void because someone did still use the taken information for their own use, and didn't pay royalties to the creator)

Alera said,
Piracy isn't theft, try again.

It's copyright infringement, which just like theft has a bad effect on the economy for people who buy things legally. So if it's theft or copyright infringement doesn't really matter for his point.

neufuse said,

Let's not get bend out on a definition...

Definition is important. I'm sorry but since when using a word to decribe something else is deemed acceptable? You don't call wine beer because the 2 make you drunk. Wine is wine and beer is beer.

Piracy is not theft. End of story. As simple as that. Piracy is piracy. It is a copyright infringement.

You can't say that there is money that would of normally changed hands. You can't assume someone who copy something or download it would have buy it. Lot of people download for well over 200$ of media a month. Most of them don't have the 200+$ to spend.

neufuse said,

I am saying we need to stop the whole it's theft or piracy argument... )

Why? People just have to call piracy what it is and the argument will stop. The day people will call piracy a copyright infringement people will stop saying it is not theft. Cause it is really not theft.

COKid said,

Piracy, like shoplifting, causes prices to be raised for those of us who do live life with integrity. A certain percentage of the cost of just about anything you buy is to cover those who choose to steal it. So thank a thief today!

Price would not go down. Economy 101. Companies would put the money in their pocket. We are talking about companies making millions every year in profit. They could already reduce the price if they wanted to and still make a profit.

The price of an item is not based on things like piracy, security, theft and such. It is based on what the consumer is willing to pay. They are selling at the price they believe will bring the highest possible profit.

Places like WalMart actually bake theft into the price of some items cause they know they are stolen a lot. I'm sure the music and film industries do the same. Likely one of the reasons why movie ticket prices have sky rocketed.

I would rather put the prices down to the growing number of people walking out and not coming back, thus trying to keep profits going to afford to show the movies they want to show. I'd think if they lowered the prices, more people would actually go to a cinema to watch a movie instead of illegally downloading it. This is why Netflix and other companies are thriving, they offer a service for a good price, the old market simply doesn't want to change.

That's just my opinion though, I don't have any evidence to back it up! :p

LaP said,

Why? People just have to call piracy what it is and the argument will stop. The day people will call piracy a copyright infringement people will stop saying it is not theft. Cause it is really not theft.

my point is, people see the word piracy and think oh, no one loses which they then turn around and use it as a justification for doing it themselves, when they see theft they think someone lost... someone does lose in piracy, the original creator you are still taking away profits from that person. We've only made it easier to do that in the past few decades.. it use to be a LOT harder

You can't say that, look, let's say you pirate a game right? You don't yet have the intention to buy the game, let's say you don't like the game anyway, so you don't buy it, well then the creator lost nothing. This is how game demo's used to work...

Now let's say you did like it and paid for it, piracy just made a profit. Now if you pirate it and like it and don't pay for it, then you're clearly not doing the business any favours.

It's not so simple as saying piracy = theft or piracy = creators losing out. There are many creators of movies and music and games out there that argue otherwise and say piracy has actually helped them. This is not a black and white issue as many would claim. :/

who's to say this isn't setting precedent for a company like of say..... Comcast... to start filtering ad's based on who they like or not? starts with "police" ends with total control by your ISP

The crime in the picture above is not about pirating, it's about the fact someone is downloading Will.i.am, legit or not, it should be a crime!

Not sure how this will help. If you're visiting a warez/torrent site, you'll likely have an adblocker, so you won't see these banners anyway.

I don't think this is about users seeing the ads. It's about the pirate web site hosts not getting any revenue from ads.

Enron said,
Who cares about advertisers though? They're pretty scummy people.

So because I advertise my business on some websites, I'm a scummy person?

xendrome said,
Wow, and usually it's the UK people saying "'Merica"

This is crazy. Censoring internet content at it's finest.

UK always seems to have more strict surveillance and monitoring to us at least, we always look at you guys as the "CCTV Nation"

xendrome said,
Wow, and usually it's the UK people saying "'Merica"

This is crazy. Censoring internet content at it's finest.

Not really censorship is it? The site still loads, you can still use the site.

Thankfully due process and things like warrants were scrapped many years ago so our boys in blue can now crack a few sculls without the need to worry about pesky laws. And why the duck are my taxes paying to enforce what really should be civil matters !!!!!!!!!

In the UK piracy can also be criminal with a custodial sentence of up to 10 years.

Those paying legitimately for products will pay taxes both directly through VAT and indirectly through the company that they make the purchase from. This is obviously a benefit to the government and every tax paying citizen. I suspect the law is there ensure that tax is paid and to protect consumers from being misled (rather than for the benefit of the person whos IP is being breached).

If this deters and convinces enough people to buy instead of illegally download products then it can save money in taxes as the return will be greater than the cost to deter and enforce. I'm not convinced myself but I don't know how you can measure its effectiveness.

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/ipenforc...kplace-matters-criminal.htm

(Of course there is a whole other issues about whether the industry is fighting a losing battle and should adapt and the problem will disappear but I'll leave that for another day.)

Yes appreciate all your points but if it is a criminal offence then do what the police are supposed to do and arrest people. This is a bit like the police going round letting the tires down of those that are likely to speed.

boo_star said,

I would imagine so, from what I can tell they're just buying ad space and using keywords to get it displayed on sites that are likely pirate sites.

Interesting... Ok, thanks =)