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Police Banner 'Ads' Warn About Potentially Pirated Content

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on August 05, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

Internet ads can be annoying. At times, for example, you may be seeking to read an article or watch a video clip online, but first you have to click off an advertisement that is in the way, or you have to wait out a video ad before you can watch the video content of your choosing.

Perhaps these ads once in a while may be successful in gaining your interest to buy the advertised products, but certainly most of the time these ads simply are a nuisance and a waste of time.

But (and there always is a "but") there can be Internet "ads" that truly are beneficial. What, really? Yes, really! So, what am I talking about? This:

According to BBC News, police in London have begun utilizing banner ads (so to speak) on websites that are suspected of providing illegally pirated content.

These truly are warnings, not so much ads, but they show up where paid advertisements otherwise would appear. One such banner warning reads: "This website has been reported to the police. Please close the browser page containing this website."

The purpose behind this London police approach is to prevent sites that to seek to benefit from pirated content from ultimately gaining revenue through Internet advertising.

"Copyright infringing websites are making huge sums of money though advert placement," the head of London's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit said in a statement. "Disrupting advertising on these sites is crucial and this is why it is an integral part of Operation Creative."

Furthermore, these warnings would make the pirated sites look much less authentic to Internet users. Indeed, a warning about potentially pirated content certainly should cause an Internet user to have hesitancy about a site upon first review, rather than an authentic look and feel caused by an advertisement from a well-known brand appearing on the piracy site.

Overall, this is a laudable effort by London police, and hopefully it will help users steer away from piracy sites. Generally speaking, the more that can be done to provide clarity to Internet users in terms of site content authenticity, the better.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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