New unit created to tackle online piracy

City of London Police is to head a new unit targeting intellectual property crime.

Jul 18, 2013
By Paul Jacques
Dame Louise Casey

City of London Police is to head a new unit targeting intellectual property crime.

The unit will be dedicated to tackling online piracy and other forms of intellectual property crime, such as counterfeit goods.

It will be one of the first units of its kind in the world and puts the UK at the forefront of intellectual property enforcement.

The Intellectual Property Office will provide £2.5 million in funding over two years to City of London Police – which is the national lead force for fraud – to establish and run the unit. It is expected the unit will be up-and-running in September.

The Commissioner of City of London Police, Adrian Leppard, said: “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. Together we are creating an operationally-independent police unit that will coordinate 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.”

Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger, added that 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 creative industries.

“These industries are worth more than £36 billion a year and employ more than 1.5 million people,” he said.

“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 City of London Police, which has recognised expertise in tackling economic crime, we are showing how committed this Government is to supporting business and delivering economic growth.”

Around seven million people a month visit sites offering illegal content in the UK. Globally, it is projected that digitally pirated music, films and software will account for losses of around $80 billion – this is expected to rise to $240 billion by 2015. According to The Creative Coalition’s TERA Report (2010), if nothing is done about copyright infringement, up to a quarter of a million jobs in the UK could be at risk by 2015.

The intention to set up the unit was announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable last December.

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