World Watch: @CityPolicePIPCU and UK Intellectual Property Office Helping Artists

“IPO” has a different meaning in the UK than in Silicon Valley–the acronym stands for “Intellectual Property Office,” which is loosely like the U.S. Copyright Office.  We’ve had our bones to pick with the UK Intellectual Property Office over the recent past.  The Brits fall victim to Google’s crony capitalism, overreach and multimillion dollar lobbying strategy as does the U.S. government–and anything involving IP enforcement is naturally a target for Big Google.

But just like the European Commission is the only government in the world to take on Google’s true violations of fair business practices, the UK government has gotten bi-partisan support for going after ad-sponsored piracy of all stripes through the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit.  (@CityPolicePIPCU)  The PIPCU is funded by the IPO and managed by the City of London Police.

PIPCU Slide

This gives the IPO true enforcement powers, unlike our Copyright Office which has to persuade the Department of Justice to bring enforcement actions.  (And since Google controls the Obama Administration’s enforcement of laws against Google, it’s unlikely that the DOJ will ever prosecute Google for much of anything at all.)

The one thing that taxpayers ask of their government is to protect their property and persons (see Leviathan).  When it comes to the Internet, governments routinely fail miserably.  The report shows striking examples of what can be done when government takes seriously its promises in the social contract.

This is something as simple as producing information about illegal sites that advertisers can consult before letting their ad networks (like Google Ad Services) sell their advertising to support piracy, illegal drugs or counterfeit goods.

Advertising plays a prominent role in supporting illegal sites. We are working with
industry and law enforcement partners to reduce the risk of advertising supply
chains being broken.

The creation of the Infringing Website List (IWL), an online portal containing an
up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, identified and evidenced by the
creative industries and verified by the City of London Police, is having a
significant impact. Since the PIPCU launched the IWL in 2013, there has been a
73% decrease in advertising from the UK’s top ad spending companies on IWL
copyright infringing websites.

We will continue to work with brand advertisers, advertising intermediaries and
law enforcement partners to highlight the value of the IWL and will support groups
such as the Digital Trading Standards group (DTSG) in promoting their UK good
practice principles.

Easy, right? MusicTechPolicy and The Trichordist have been banging this drum for years as has Harvard Business School Professor Ben Edelman and Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of mega ad agency WPP.

Sir Martin has gone even further saying Google won’t even tell WPP or the advertisers themselves where their ads end up.  According to a recent article in the Financial Times, Sir Martin “warned Google that unless it improves its efforts to weed out ‘fake views’ of online adverts, marketers will shift their focus back towards traditional media such as press and television.” Sir Martin was reacting to a study that alleged that Google “has been charging marketers for YouTube ad views even when the video platform’s fraud-detection systems identify that a ‘viewer’ is a robot rather than a human being” and Sir Martin stated the obvious conclusion that “[c]lients are becoming wary and suspicious.”

Serious stuff.  Publish a list and advertisers can decide if they want to support illegal sites regardless of what the ad networks like Google say about it.  Why can’t we have that in this country?

Three guesses.

Google White House Meetings

Read the report on the IPO website.

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