Ukrainian Cyber Police Unit Raided Piracy-Supporting Advertiser

By Bill Toulas / March 18, 2020

The Ukrainian Police Cyber Crime Unit has raided the offices of a Kyiv-based advertiser who has not been named yet, and who is facing accusations of collaborating with pirating platforms. Many of the websites that are promoting and distributing copyright-infringing material rely on advertisements to increase their revenues, especially those that don’t operate on a subscription-based model. Thus, making profits from advertising is crucial for their very existence, and advertising agencies are a key link to the chain. Therefore, they are considered accomplices of illegal activities, which often results in the following images.

The above video contains footage from the recent raid. It was released by the Ukrainian authorities to send a message to everyone who's in business with pirating platforms. According to the few details that were provided by the authorities, they carried out the payments through an international platform that is among the top three most widely used payment systems, so it could be PayPal. The Police said that the fifty people working on the advertiser's office ran ads on pirate platforms, generated revenue, and then transferred the money to various online wallets.

The raid resulted in the confiscation of servers, computers, documents, cash, and any other form of records that could help the upcoming investigation. Once it is concluded, many of the people who are found guilty of copyright law violations will face prison sentences between three and six years. There are multiple reasons for this strictness, as the particular office was engaged in several unlawful activities. First, they provided a platform for copyright infringement businesses to flourish. Secondly, they placed ads on illegal online gambling platforms that have been outlawed in the country since 2009. Thirdly, they have inflicted an estimated amount of damage of about $150,000 via unlawful advertising.

The pre-trial investigation is already pointing to a 30-year-old man who collaborated with the advertising office, and who allegedly operated a notable number of pirate video websites. As for where this leaves the casual pirates who visited these platforms, we doubt that the case will target them. Recently, we saw how the European Commission placed Ukraine high in the list of countries that should upgrade their piracy tackling efforts, as the Eastern European country was noted as one of the worst regarding this matter. That said, Police raids like this one may be a response to the pressure that comes from higher up.

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