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Ukrainian Cyberpolice Unit Announces Launch of “Operation Pirates”

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The Ukrainian government has announced the launch of a new campaign to crack down on online piracy. According to the head of the country's cyberpolice unit, "Operation Pirates" is set to run for a month with support from major media companies, broadcasters, and anti-piracy groups.

Under pressure from entertainment industry groups and broadcasters, governments around the world are increasingly paying more attention to the issue of online piracy.

What was once perceived as an issue for the companies having their content pirated, is now being painted as a threat to national prosperity.

Those in power are now warned that online piracy groups are increasingly criminal in nature, their activities deprive states of tax and other revenues, while legitimate jobs are put under threat. Ukraine, once a haven for pirate sites, is now apparently paying attention.

After being regularly featured in the USTR’s ‘Priority Watch List’, the Ukrainian government has just announced “Operation Pirates”, an anti-piracy initiative aimed at raising awareness of online piracy in an effort to counter it.

Beginning the second week in April and set to run for a month, the campaign is spearheaded by the Ukrainian cyberpolice under the watchful eye of division chief Sergey Demedyuk.

“We must learn how to respect intellectual works, because at first glance, watching a videotape on a pirate resource does not pose any threat to the security of society,” Demedyuk says.

“But, at the same time, such actions provoke perpetrators to bypass legislation to violate the rights of citizens who own this property. Therefore, the culture of payment for copyrighted video and audio content online should be developed in Ukraine.”

Demedyuk notes that pirate site operators aren’t interested in simply providing their visitors with free content. Their motivation is to generate revenue from advertising placed on their unlicensed platforms.

“Such earnings can start at $500 a month from one site. At the same time, there is no guarantee that these resources carry no malware,” he adds.

According to Demedyuk, the National Police of Ukraine is now establishing a public-private partnership in order to tackle these sites. To this end, a Memorandum of Cooperation has been signed by the authorities and major industry groups.

The signatories include Starlight Media (Ukraine’s largest broadcasting group), Media Group Ukraine (one of the largest media holding companies), TV channel Studio 1 + 1, Discovery Networks, IFPI-member Music Industry Association of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Anti-Piracy Association.

At the time of writing, the Memorandum itself hasn’t been published by the government and none of the companies and organizations detailed above have made its details available via their web portals. Nevertheless, recent actions show that Ukraine is taking online piracy more seriously.

Last year, police shut down Olainfilm, a streaming site with half a million users. Then in February 2019, authorities announced that dozens of sites, allegedly operated by the same man, had also been closed down.

According to new figures released this week by Ukraine’s cyberpolice, “100 pirate online cinemas” have been shuttered since the start of 2019.