Infringing Website List enlists 50 HK brands to cut pirate ad revenue

The Hong Kong Creative Industries Association (HKCIA) today announced that the pilot run of the “Infringing Website List” (IWL) Scheme has resulted in the removal of advertisements on infringing websites by 50 brands in Hong Kong and reduced traffic to a number of infringing websites by 14% on average.

The IWL was launched late last year, and lists 14 overseas websites offering copyrighted content illegally, and are all frequented by Hongkongers. The list has been shared with advertisers, agencies and intermediaries, the HKCIA said, who subsequently ceased the placement of ads, to disrupt revenue for these sites. This in turn, the HKCIA argues, will act as a deterrent to hosting pirated content, and helps safeguard brands' reputation.

As many as 169 brands were found to have served ads to these websites - totalling more than 2.3 million monthly visitors - ranging from well-known academic institutions, supermarkets, financial organisations, travel agents, law firms to fashion and electronic products. A total of 6 major advertisers, agencies and intermediaries have joined the IWL Scheme since its launch, resulting in the removal of advertisements by 50 brands on these pirate websites, the HKCIA found.

Mr Robert Lee, Chairman of the HKCIA, said, “Disrupting the advertising revenue to these infringing sites by sharing our Infringing Website List with advertisers is an important step towards eradicating online infringement. We hope more advertisers will join our ranks. The HKCIA will continue to update and expand the List, which is aiming at a target of 150 infringing sites by the first quarter of 2018.”

“The online advertising spending in Hong Kong in 2017 is estimated to be HK$5.72 billion, and approximately 30% has gone or will go to these infringing websites. We fully support the IWL Scheme because it protects not only the rights of copyright holders but also our clients’ brand reputation and image,” said Mr Ralph Szeto, Chairman of Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing.

Mr Ma Fung-kwok, Legislative Councillor representing the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication sector, said at the press conference, “The servers of these infringing websites are
usually located overseas, rendering it difficult for the Customs and Excise Department to take action against online infringement. The IWL Scheme, however, targets the revenue source of these sites and can effectively deter online piracy activities. I call on more members of the creative and advertising industries to join the Scheme.”