Fifty brands have participated in a pilot scheme initiated by the Hong Kong Creative Industries Association (HKCIA) to remove advertising from 14 overseas-hosted websites that deal in pirated entertainment.
An average 14 per cent reduction in traffic to some of the infringing websites was noted by the association in its test run of the Infringing Website List (IWL) scheme .
Launched in December, the IWL has information on 14 overseas websites offering unauthorised access to copyright content. The pirate websites are frequently visited by Hong Kong users, says the HKCIA. The list is can be accessed by partnering advertisers, agencies and intermediaries, and the move is designed to disrupt the advertising revenue flowing to the sites, deterring online infringement as well as safeguarding the advertiser’s brand reputation.
So far, six major advertisers, agencies and intermediaries have joined the IWL Scheme.
Total traffic to the 14 sites reached 2.3 million visits a month, and as many as 169 brands were identified to have advertised on these sites, including academic institutions, supermarkets, financial organisations, travel agents, law firms, fashion labels and electronics brands.
“Disrupting the advertising revenue to these infringing sites is an important step toward eradicating online infringement,” says HKCIA chairman Robert Lee.
“We will continue to update and expand the list, which is aiming at a target of 150 infringing sites by the first quarter of next year.”
30 per cent share
Online advertising spending in Hong Kong this year is estimated to be HK$5.72 billion (US$732.6 million), and about 30 per cent has gone or will go to these infringing websites, says Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing chairman Ralph Szeto. “We fully support the IWL Scheme because it protects not only the rights of copyright holders but also our clients’ brand reputation and image.”
The IWL was initially introduced in the UK in 2013. Named “Operation Creative”, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit scheme now lists more than 2000 pirate websites and involves more than 130 advertising associations and companies. Reports show a 73 per cent fall in mainstream advertisements appearing on those pirate websites.
Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam are among the first countries in Asia to adopt the scheme.
The Hong Kong Creative Industries Association was formed by members of the movie, TV and radio broadcasting, comics and animation, intellectual property rights licensing as well as publishing sectors in March 2015. Members of Hong Kong IWL Scheme are:
1. 21st Century Fox
2. Hong Kong Comics and Animation Federation
3. Hong Kong Creative Industries Association
4. Hong Kong International Screen Association
5. Hong Kong Recording Industry Association
6. Hong Kong Video Development Foundation
7. IFPI Asian Regional Office
8. Motion Pictures Association
9. Hong Kong Movie Producers and Distributors Association
10. Hong Kong Motion Picture Industries Association
11. Television Broadcasts Limited
12. Time Warner
13. Hong Kong Theatres Association
A list of offending websites has not been released, probably because that would only publicise them.