Frequently Asked Questions For Users

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, acting as the global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation, and having responsibility for various international treaties on IP. Its main objective is to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world through cooperation among States. To help its 193 Member States coordinate efforts to reduce large-scale infringement of IP rights, WIPO has developed WIPO ALERT.

WIPO ALERT is a secure online platform on which national authorities (“Authorized Contributors”) can upload and update lists of copyright-infringing web sites. Advertisers, advertising agencies and intermediaries can download these lists manually or via an Application Programming Interface (API) as an aggregated feed. The service enables a global view of infringing sites, including sites in languages which might otherwise be overlooked. The platform strengthens the practical basis for advertising industry self-regulation.

Since the late 1990s, the copyright industries – such as music, film, publishing and software – have faced widespread unauthorized copying and distribution of their works on the internet. The main way in which internet users gain access to such illegal copies is via infringing web sites, many of which contain malware or content unsuitable for children. Many countries are concerned to protect their creative industries and consumers from such activities. At the same time, many brands are seeking more accurately to manage their online advertising, to avoid misplacement of advertisements in locations which may damage brand value.

The websites or apps that provide users with access to copyright-infringing content and services on a commercial scale use the sale of advertising space as one of their revenue sources. The presence of advertising for legitimate brands can confuse users, leading them to believe they are using legal services, when in fact those services are illegal, expose them to risk and may go offline without warning.

In several countries, information about pirate sites is gathered by or with the approval of national authorities and shared with the advertising industry, enabling the latter to avoid placing advertising on specified illegal sites. Such schemes have been found to be effective in reducing the amount of advertising on infringing sites1. However, there is no systematic sharing of information at the international level. WIPO ALERT fills that gap.

1 Operation Creative sees 64 per cent drop in UK advertising, PIPCU press release, March 2, 2017; Rapport 2015-2016 de la Charte de bonnes pratiques dans la publicité pour le respect du droit d’auteur et des droits voisins, March 23, 2017

Access to the database is open to any genuine advertising industry business which is willing to undertake to use the information solely for preventing the appearance of advertising on pirate web sites. WIPO may ask for details of your business before deciding whether to grant access to WIPO ALERT as an Authorized User.

WIPO ALERT collects national lists of infringing websites. Each list retains its integrity on the platform. Using simple tools, Authorized Users can decide whether to use all the data, or merely data from particular Authorized Contributors or particular countries. Similarly, Authorized Contributors can decide whether to permit or refuse access to particular Users, although the default position is that all Users can access all data. Authorized Users can also decide how they access the data. The status of individual domains can be checked manually using an internal search engine or an aggregated feed of the lists selected by the User can be downloaded as a spreadsheet. In the ideal implementation, programmatic advertising systems consult the database in real time via the platform’s API while serving advertisements to publishers.

Authorized Users enter into a simple agreement with WIPO which provides that the User will use the data obtained through WIPO ALERT exclusively for preventing the misplacement of advertising on copyright-infringing websites and that it will use its best endeavors to keep the data confidential. The reason for the second restriction is that some countries feel that their lists of copyright-infringing websites should not be publicized, to avoid encouraging visits to those sites.

WIPO ALERT is a secure site, access credentials to which are given by WIPO through a manual process. The WIPO ALERT platform is protected by various technical arrangements which ensure that it is accessible only to authorized persons.

There is currently no charge for the service.

You are welcome to do so. By becoming an Authorized User of WIPO ALERT you are supporting an intergovernmental initiative to enhance the protection of IP through voluntary cooperation. Authorized Users are entitled to display the WIPO ALERT Membership Seal on their websites and publications to show their participation in this international project.

No. WIPO is simply providing a service to its Member States and to the international advertising industry in facilitating global access to data compiled at national level. The national agencies which create the lists of sites remain solely responsible for their contents.

The platform has already added a facility which will notify Authorized Contributors in case any list is updated by the deletion of a site which appears on more than one list on WIPO ALERT. This helps Authorized Contributors maintain the relevance of their lists. Further technical services are envisaged to increase the usefulness of the platform to Authorized Users and Contributors. The platform will be soon available in WIPO official languages other than English.

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