London PIPCU takes down pirates stealing from The Sidemen creative group

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Managed by Arcade Media, the Sidemen are a group of seven creators formed in 2013 which reaches over 17.5 million subscribers on its primary YouTube channel.  Sidemen programming was found on two infringing domains, and, which were linked to a site that illegally hosted Sidemen content, including videos that were only available to watch with a subscription.

The takedown was orchestrated by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police and the anti-piracy agency Web Capio. Officers believe that the pirate site generated revenue through adverts.

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Part of a larger initiative

This operation was part of Operation Creative, an initiative in which PIPCU works with partners across the creative and advertising industries to disrupt websites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content. Operation Creative resulted in the suspension of 670 illegal domains in 2022, and 4,423 since its launch.

Operation Creative comprises of several tactical options, including placing pirate websites on the Infringing Website List (IWL), which is shared with advertisers, agencies and other intermediaries to ensure they do not place adverts on them, and are therefore not unintentionally funding them.

On the lookout for fraudulent advertising

Organizations in the digital advertising sector can subscribe to the Infringing Website List (IWL), a list of sites that PIPCU has confirmed to be providing copyrighted content illegally, to ensure they do not place adverts onto them. Around 750 organisations currently subscribe to the IWL.

Further reading:

Police shut down domains that illegally hosted copyrighted content by YouTube supergroup. News release. January 27, 2023. Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), City of London Police.

Operation Creative blocks £6 million of UK advertising revenue from funding illegal websites.  News release. February 6, 2023. Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), City of London Police.

Why it matters

First, copyright infringing sites can provide a steady source of income for those acting unlawfully, while damaging legitimate businesses and costing the UK’s creative industries hundreds of millions of pounds.

In addition, it reduced advertising fraud.  Research conducted by anti-piracy and brand safety solutions company White Bullet Solutions shows that there was a 58 per cent decrease in UK advertising on websites on the IWL between January and December 2022. The total estimated advertising revenue that these websites received from UK traffic fell by £6 million in the same period.

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