Organization Helping Police Inject Ads On 'Pirate' Sites 'Pirates' BBC Article About The Program

from the well-there-go-its-own-ads dept

Earlier this week we wrote about the latest ridiculous move by the City of London Police to inject ridiculous ads on sites that the City of London Police force deems to be "pirate sites." As we noted in our writeup, it's not always so easy to determine what is and what is not a "pirate" site. Here, let's take a look at the website of a company called "Project Sunblock." It's a "brand safety" advertising company that claims to scan pages that ads appear on to make sure that good ads don't appear on "bad pages." It's also the "partner" that the City of London Police are using to do their ad injection. Here's what the original BBC article about this operation had to say about them:
Project Sunblock detects the content of websites to prevent brands' ads appearing where they do not want them.

When a website on Pipcu's Infringing Websites List (IWL) tries to display an advert, Project Sunblock will instead serve the police warning.

Neither the police or Project Sunblock are paying the website in question to display the police message.
So here's the question: is Project Sunblock itself running a rogue site? Parker Higgins happened to notice that the company decided to copy the entire BBC article onto its blog. It seems to think it's okay to do that, so long as it includes a "first published by Dave Lee on [BBC URL]" at the end. But, of course, that's not true. The company appears to have just copied the entire article wholesale and put it on its own website. The BBC might claim that this is infringement. Assuming that, at some point, some genius at Project Sunblock may rethink this decision, here's a thumbnail screenshot (you can click for a larger version):
Of course, this sort of thing -- "ooh, nice PR article for us, let's highlight it by posting it to our blog" -- happens all the time. Because it seems totally natural and normal to most folks. Because it is. But it's also likely to be copyright infringement, especially in the UK where they don't have a pesky little thing called fair use.

But, really, it highlights the problem. The very company that is providing the tools to present bogus warnings to people that they're on a site engaged in copyright infringement is, itself, likely engaged in copyright infringement. Because, these days, it's almost impossible not to infringe someone's copyright at some point or another. Figuring out what sites are "pirate" sites and what sites are "legit" isn't so easy. When even the company the City of London Police signed up to do their ad injections can't figure out how copyright works, shouldn't the City of London Police think twice about unilaterally declaring sites pirate sites?
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Filed Under: ads, articles, city of london police, copyright, infringement, rogue sites, uk
Companies: project sunblock

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2014 @ 9:39am

    out of curiosity, under what authority does 'the city of london police use to actually overwrite any ads anyway? does the sites that have the disputed ads have permission to run them, or are they breaking the law from the get go? plus, what compensation is there when the police ad appears on any sites it shouldn't? what is actually happening, in my opinion, is that this 'force' is doing what it is doing totally illegally, just as everything the entertainment industries do is illegal in trying to prevent people getting at their stuff. the only thing that is wanted to be done is as much financial damage, as much family damage and as much freedom damage as possible. i cannot understand how any government can not only allow but actively encourage these steps rather than trying to get the industries involved to try every option available first. we all agree just about that offering to customers what they want, (fast downloads, released early, sensible pricing, no drm, equal quality to that found elsewhere), will do more to aid the legal downloading that is sought. constantly penalising people in the harshest ways possible, will get the industries nothing except scorn and contempt!

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