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UK government to fund IP crime focused police unit

By | Published on Monday 1 July 2013


The UK’s Intellectual Property Office announced on Friday that it will provide £2.5 million to the City Of London Police to fund a specific policing unit focused on intellectual property crime, including online piracy.

The City’s police force already leads on fraud investigations, and has collaborated with the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry in the campaign to persuade credit card companies and other online payment processors to not accept monies for websites involved in providing access to pirated goods. Last month the police force also started contacting the operators of UK-based piracy sites threatening criminal action.

Announcing the new IP crime unit, which is expected to be up and running by September, IP Minister James Younger told CMU: “Intellectual property crime has long been a problem in the world of physical goods, but with the growing use of the internet, online intellectual property crime is now an increasing threat to our creative industries. These industries are worth more than £36 billion a year and employ more than 1.5 million people”.

He added: “Government and our law enforcement agencies must do all they can to protect our creative industries and the integrity of consumer goods. By working with the City Of London Police, who have recognised expertise in tackling economic crime, we are showing how committed this government is to supporting business and delivering economic growth”.

The boss of the City Of London police force, Adrian Leppard, added: “Intellectual property crime is costing the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds each year, with organised crime gangs causing significant damage to industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content in an increasingly competitive climate. The establishment of a new online intellectual property crime unit is evidence of the government and City of London Police’s commitment to confront this threat”.

He continued: “Together we are creating an operationally independent police unit that will co-ordinate the national and international response from law enforcement and public and private sector partners so we can effectively target those who continue to illegally profiteer on the back of others endeavours. In doing so, we will also be safeguarding jobs and protecting people’s personal and computer safety by ensuring they are not exposed to counterfeit goods and unauthorised copyrighted content”.

Unsurprisingly, the IPO’s investment was welcomed by the IFPI, which will hope that the new unit will mean the work the City police force is already doing with the record industry on piracy issues can be stepped up.

The trade body’s chief Frances Moore told CMU: “I’m delighted the UK government has decided to create and fund this new unit dedicated to tackling intellectual property crime. Creative industries such as music are a vital part of our economy, providing jobs and investment. Copyright is the engine that makes these industries tick and that is what makes the work of this new intellectual property crime unit so valuable and important”.