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 @ 9:46am

    More about Project Sunblock

    An excerpt from their domain registration:

    Registrant Name: Project Sunblock
    Registrant Organization: ArtsandTV.company
    Registrant Street: 105 Church St.
    Registrant Street: Suite 600
    Registrant City: Toronto
    Registrant State/Province: Ontario
    Registrant Postal Code: M5C 2G3
    Registrant Country: Canada
    Registrant Phone: +1.4168872787
    Registrant Email: tech@artsandtv.com

    And who is artsandtv.com? An excerpt from their registration:

    Registrant Name: J R Lightstone
    Registrant Organization: ArtsandTV.company Inc
    Registrant Street: 18A Deer Park Cres
    Registrant City: Toronto
    Registrant State/Province: Ontario
    Registrant Postal Code: m4v 2c2
    Registrant Country: Canada
    Registrant Phone: 4168872787

    J R Lightstone appears to be Jeremy Lightstone, as found here:

    http://www.newatlanta.com/c/products/bluedragon/self_help/archiveSearch/detail?messageId=77733

    a nd here:

    http://www.newatlanta.com/c/products/bluedragon/self_help/archiveSearch/detail?messageId=77520

    A regurgitated press release about this is here:

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/ArtsandTV.company+Inc.+Launches+Project+Sunblock%2c+A+Leading+Edg e...-a0239960771

    It concludes by giving this contact information:

    Ian Lightstone
    ArtsandTV.company Inc.
    ilightstone@artsandtv.com
    646-315-1663

    Ken Epstein
    kepstein@artsandtv.com
    805-234-5330
    info@projectsunblock.com

    There are plenty of hits on these names if you want to keep going. But at least now we have some idea who the assholes behind this are.

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