The World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Advisory Committee on Enforcement recently announced progress made on its Building Respect for Intellectual Property database, also known as the BRIP Database.  According to WIPO, the goal of the BRIP Database is to use a “follow the money” approach to combatting online piracy by stemming the flow of advertising revenue to sites identified by WIPO Member States as known infringers of copyrighted material. 

The concept is built around the idea of sharing information that some countries (e.g. the U.K., France, Korea, and Russia) are already collecting.  Agencies from WIPO Member States that identify websites as hosting or otherwise facilitating the illegal distribution of material protected by copyright will be able to upload their lists of those websites to the BRIP Database.  Approved actors in the advertising sector—e.g. ad agencies, brand owners, and organizations that provide technical services to ad agencies and brand owners—will be permitted to download the lists.  The expectation is that the advertising sector will then “blacklist” the websites so that their ads are not posted alongside infringing content.  WIPO’s hope is that this system will help combat the otherwise insurmountable problem of stopping online piracy, including by stemming the flow of advertising revenue to these sites.  WIPO also expects that the system will reduce the air of legitimacy lent to pirate sites by the placement of advertisements for legitimate brands, as well as help brands prevent their trademarks from appearing alongside pirated content.

Notably, WIPO will serve only as an information-aggregator.  It will not verify that sites are properly identified as infringing.  Rather, that responsibility will belong to the national agencies upload the sites to the BRIP Database.  According to WIPO, for a site to be included, it must only be deemed a “site of concern,” which is defined as “an online location which is reasonably suspected by a [Member State agency] of deliberately infringing or facilitating the infringement of copyright and related rights, whether in its country of establishment or elsewhere.”  Owners of websites who believe that their sites were improperly included will not have any recourse with WIPO.  Instead, they must look to the national agency that provided the website location to WIPO.

In its nascent stage, the BRIP Database has only begun accepting Member State agencies and approved actors in the advertising sector.  There is much to see in terms of who will participate in the database, whether it will accurately identify online infringers, and whether it will effectively combat online piracy.