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30 large sites average earnings/year in 2013 was $4.4 million from advertising-financed piracy in US

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NEW DELHl: Advertising-financed piracy was an extremely profitable business as an economic study of the US market alone showed estimated pirate website ad revenue at $227 million annually.

In a presentation on ‘Online Advertising, Brand Integrity and Content Creation: Problems and Solutions’, Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) Chief Policy Officer John Medeiros said the 30 largest sites had earned an average of $4.4 million per year in 2013 and even small sites could easily have earned $100,000. Barriers to entry awere low and attracting a user base required little effort or investment.

Speaking at a FICCI conference on ‘Digital Advertising: Protecting Brand Integrity & Stimulating Content Creation’, he said Invalid Traffic (IVT) hosts were using online systems to generate non-human traffic (NHT) to illegitimately increase profit and high rates of IVT were seen 50 times more frequently among illegitimate sites than legitimate ones. He added that the growing problem of online ad misplacement was not only resulting in financially encouraging various illegal activities but was also causing serious damage to the integrity of major brands when they appeared on illegal sites.

Meanwhile, the session was informed that the British Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU)’s Operation Creative law enforcement programme was coming down hard on online pirates to combat the menace of digital piracy.

City of London police detective chief superintendent David Clark said PIPCU’s aim was to investigate, disrupt and serious and organized intellectual property crime which causes significant harm or damage to the UK economy or the general public.

Clark said the strategic objectives of the UK police were to address IP crime through prosecution and disruption; use a problem-solving approach to address the international threat; maintain an intelligence-led capability; support enforcement activity with effective media coverage; develop a PREVENT strategy with the IPO and other organizations; and reduce IP crime through a partnership approach with stakeholders.

He added that there was an urgent need for behavioral change as well in consumers who should realize that buying illegal products was a crime.

A Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) had been established to ensure that digital display advertising was not supporting inappropriate or illegal content/services in the United Kingdom, he added.

UK Good Practice Principles had also been drafted which integrated the industry-police approach. Highlighting the achievements of the UK police, Clark said 8,500 counterfeit websites have been suspended since PIPCU’s inception in 2013.

21 Century Fox senior vice president for government relations Joe Welch said FICCI’s advocacy on IPR policy had led to many significant and effective changes in the policies related to IP. He added that a sound policy dialogue to appropriately tackle the menace of piracy and a conducive environment to invigorate investment climate for the creative industry in India will definitely benefit and project India globally as a preferred destination for investments by the creative industries of the world.

After the inaugural session, discussions on the critical issue of misplaced ads resulting in funding of illegal activities were held and potential solutions that could be adopted by India to curtail this practice were explored to help digital advertising and the creative industries co-exist and flourish in today’s innovative and investment-led economy.

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