£3m boost to tackle digital piracy

The fight against digital piracy and counterfeit goods in the UK has been boosted by £3 million of new government funding to the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

Minister for Intellectual Property (IP), Baroness Neville-Rolfe announced the government’s funding commitment to the national crime unit at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group Conference in London. The unit has now been operating for 1 year and this new funding will cover the next two years, up to 2017.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe said there had been “significant success” in PIPCU’s first year of operation. “This extra support will help the unit to build on this impressive record in the fight against intellectual property crime, which costs the UK at least £1.3 billion a year in lost profits and taxes. With more money now being invested in ideas than factories or machinery in the UK, it is vital that we protect creators and consumers and the UK’s economic growth. Government and industry must work together to give long-term support to PIPCU, so that we can strengthen the UK’s response to the blight of piracy and counterfeiters,” she asserted.

City of London Police Commander Steve Head, who is the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, said the government’s commitment to fund the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit until 2017 was “fantastic news” for the City of London Police and the creative industries, and very bad news for those that seek to make capital through intellectual property crime. “Since launching a year ago, PIPCU has quickly established itself as an integral part of the national response to a problem that is costing the UK more than a billion pounds a year. Much of this success is down to PIPCU moving away from traditional policing methods and embracing new and innovative tactics, to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks responsible for causing huge damages to legitimate businesses,” he advised.

“PIPCU has benefited immensely from forging a close alliance with the IPO; forming partnerships with national and international law enforcement bodies, the creative industries and the public and private sector. This puts the unit and the City of London Police as a whole in a strong position to make an even bigger impact and greater inroads into intellectual property crime over the next couple of years,” he concluded.

PIPCU was set-up in September 2013 and is now a 21-person team consisting of detectives, police staff investigators, analysts, researchers, an education officer and a communications officer. The unit also has the added skills and expertise from two secondees; a Senior Intelligence Officer from the UK IPO and an Internet Investigator from the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI). Since its launch, PIPCU has delivered significant results. It has:

  • investigated more than £29 million worth of IP crime and has suspended 2,359 Internet domain names

  • seized more than £1.29 million worth of suspected fake goods

  • diverted more than 5 million visits from copyright infringing sites to the PIPCU domain suspension page

  • set up Operation Creative, a ground-breaking initiative designed to disrupt and prevent websites from providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content, and the Infringing Website List

The recent IP Crime Group Report, detailing all UK enforcement activity between 2013 and 2014, highlights innovative initiatives used by PIPCU to dismantle and disrupt criminal activity.

Eddy Leviten, Director General, Alliance for Intellectual Property, said the body was delighted that PIPCU had secured the  additional funding, allowing it to continue the excellent work of tackling IP crime in all forms. “In its first year PIPCU has shown itself to be at the forefront of innovative solutions to disrupt criminal activity, protect UK jobs and help IP be the driving force for the UK economy. PIPCU is now an integral part of the enforcement landscape, but we also need to ensure that trading standards, National Crime Agency and others are equipped to play their own vital roles protecting consumers and targeting criminal activity,” he added.

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