LONDON: The City of London Police has asked for the help of advertisers and brands in tackling the issue of intellectual property crime by refraining from advertising on illegal websites.

The force's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has launched its Infringing Website List (IWL), the first of its kind to be developed, which is designed to disrupt and prevent revenue to websites from providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content.

The IWL is an online portal providing the digital advertising sector with an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, identified by the creative industries and evidenced and verified by the City of London Police unit, so that advertisers, agencies and other intermediaries can limit brand advertising placement on these illegal websites.

"If an advert from an established brand appears on an infringing website not only does it lend the site a look of legitimacy, but inadvertently the brand and advertiser are funding online crime," said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, head of PIPCU,.

The IWL would serve as a safety tool, he stated, "ensuring the reputation of advertisers and brands are not discredited through association with illegal websites".

The introduction of the IWL follows a three month pilot that took place last year in collaboration with the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), The Publishers Association, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

The pilot saw a clear and positive trend, with a 12% reduction in advertising from major household brands on the identified illegal websites. The pilot also revealed that almost half (46%) of ads served to the sites clicked through to fraudulent scams.

"The damage to brand reputation when online ads appear on illegal websites is a real concern for advertisers," said Andy Muddimer, Head of Digital at Santander and one of the IWL pilot participants.

"This simple-to-use, online resource provides welcome reassurance which we would urge all online advertisers to pass on to the agencies they employ to serve their ads," he added.

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff