Detectives from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) have arrested two people in the north-west town of Bury on suspicion of selling devices illegally containing hundreds of thousands of chart-topping karaoke tracks and videos.
The pair were arrested by officers from the City of London Police unit with support from Greater Manchester Police following a referral from recorded music industry trade the BPI.
The couple are believed to be selling hard-drives containing up to 200,000 files of copyrighted material including karaoke tunes, full music tracks and music videos.
The value of the music on just one of these devices is thought to be worth more than £350,000 (€443,000).
Head of PIPCU DCI Daniel Medlycott said: “Our creative industries are incredibly important; not only are we recognised worldwide as producing great films, TV and music but these industries are playing a large part in supporting our country financially, contributing a huge £71.4 billion to the UK economy and supporting 1.68million jobs. The vast majority of people who work in the music and film industries are not making vast amounts of money and we have a responsibility to protect the industries they work in.”
“Therefore PIPCU is committed to tackling individuals who think they can exploit others copyrighted material for their own financial gain, as crimes like these are costing our economy hundreds of millions of pounds.”
BPI Director of Content Protection, David Wood, said that counterfeiting criminals who believed that music piracy was a low-risk activity that carries no penalty were “flawed” in their views. “Put simply, it is illegal and it will not go unseen by the eyes of the law. Anyone trying to build a business on the back of someone else’s ideas or copyright should ask themselves if making a quick buck at the expense of musicians, local businesses – and indeed their own future – is really worth it,” he suggested.
PIPCU is based within the Economic Crime Directorate of the City of London Police, the National Lead Force for Fraud. It is a specialist police unit dedicated to protecting the UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content from intellectual property crime.
The operationally independent unit launched in September 2013 and has been boosted by the news that it is to receive £3 million of new government funding. The new funding will cover the next two years, up to 2017.