“Follow the Money” – Incopro report looks at revenue sources for copyright infringing websites in key EU markets

Many websites that infringe copyright on a massive scale are also thriving illegal businesses that make their money through advertising.  Last year’s Digital Citizens’ Alliance study ‘Good Money Gone Bad’ actually put a figure on it: infringing websites globally make a projected US$ 227 million in annual advertising revenue.  To complement that staggering figure, a new report from Incopro today confirms that 88% of the most popular websites used to obtain infringing copyright content in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK use advertising as a source of funding.

These numbers support our call that everyone in the Internet ecosystem must play a constructive role to help bring about a more responsible Internet.  In July last year, the European Commission launched its action plan “Towards a renewed consensus on the enforcement of intellectual property rights” which we welcomed as a step in the right direction.  We thought the report would lead to increased awareness and cooperation between national authorities.  We also were particularly encouraged by the report’s focus on the so-called ‘Follow the Money’ approach, which was intended to prevent commercial-scale IPR infringements by involving all actors in the supply chain and by depriving commercial scale infringers of their revenue flows.

Today’s Incopro report is a valuable contribution and clearly highlights the need to aim for a robust approach in the efforts promoted by the European Commission and being discussed within the European Parliament under the leadership of MEP Svoboda.  I am also encouraged by the number of initiatives that are already underway or are in the process of being launched in several EU countries, such as the UK, Austria, France, Italy and Spain.

Film and TV fans have never had access to so many legal services and, as an industry, we continue to meet consumer demand by expanding the quality and quantity of legal online content service, providing safe alternatives to pirate websites.  A recent report  from KPMG found that 86% of the most popular and highest quality films and television content is now available across legal digital platforms in the UK.

But for the Internet to be a place for investment, innovation and creativity, we must work with all players in the Internet ecosystem to take meaningful steps to curb online copyright infringement, these include ad networks, payment processors, ISPs and search engines.