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UK police try to spook piracy website users with banner ads

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Would an ominous banner ad be enough to dissuade you from illegally stealing an album or movie? UK authorities are apparently hoping so. The City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is plastering ads across known piracy websites in an attempt to make users think twice before clicking the download button. "This website has been reported to the police," reads the ad. "Please close the browser page containing this website." Authorities partnered with local "creative and advertising industries" to replace regular advertisements with the straightforward warnings.

The ads appear on all sites that've been added to PIPCU's new "Infringing Websites List" (ICL). That list is currently about 70 websites long, according to TechCrunch, and the warning banners are visible to most people browsing from the UK -- though international users may also see them from time to time. Aside from helping visitors avoid potential legal problems, the ICL also meant to help local advertisers steer clear of piracy sites. "If an advert from an established brand appears on an infringing website not only does it lend the site a look of legitimacy, but inadvertently the brand and advertiser are funding online crime," Andy Fyfe, head of PIPCU, told TechCrunch.