The City of London Police today announced that it has started replacing advertising on copyright infringing websites with official force banners.
The replacement banners, being issued by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), will alert the user if a site is under criminal investigation and tell them to leave.
The police force said that sites displaying the banners are those that have been identified by rights holders and subsequently reported to the PIPCU with accompanying evidence indicating how the site in question is involved in copyright infringement.
Staff within the PIPCU will work alongside those at content verification provider, Project Sunblock, to determine which websites are in fact infringing copyright.
Owners of infringing websites will be contacted by the PIPCU and asked to start operating within the law.
If they fail to comply, the police may also seek suspension of the site from the domain registrar and disrupt advertising revenue through the use of the Infringing Website List (IWL).
CEO of Project Sunblock, Duncan Trigg, said: "Without realising it, advertisers are allowing their brands to be associated with illegal sites, and regrettably, this happens more often than it should. But each time it does, brands are effectively putting money in the back pocket of criminals. As advertisers funnel more money into online spend, initiatives like this are crucial to safeguarding their brands as well as their budget."
Head of PIPCU, DCI Andy 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 through advert placement, therefore disrupting advertising on these sites is crucial and this is why it is an integral part of Operation Creative.
"This work also helps us to protect consumers. When adverts from well known brands appear on illegal websites, they lend them a look of legitimacy and inadvertently fool consumers into thinking the site is authentic."
The banners are the latest phase of Operation Creative, a scheme designed to stop websites from providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content. It is led by PIPCU in partnership with the creative and advertising industries.