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IP crime policing unit gets two years more funding

By | Published on Friday 24 October 2014

City Of London Police

The UK government yesterday confirmed another two years of funding for the City Of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit, or PIPCU, which has been spearheading a number of anti-piracy initiatives since its launch last year.

The specialist policing unit was set up with money from the government’s Department For Business, Innovation & Skills, though initial funding was only guaranteed until 2015. But back in April, Mike Weatherley MP, in his guise as IP Advisor to David Cameron, called on the future of the unit to be guaranteed beyond that initial funding period. And yesterday IP Minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe confirmed another £3 million had been allocated that will assure the unit’s work can continue until 2017.

She told reporters: “We’ve seen significant success in PIPCU’s first year of operation. This extra support for the unit will help them 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”.

Meanwhile the City Of London Police’s Steve Head added: “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”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, PIPCU has proven popular with the copyright industries, which appreciate having a specialist policing unit to liaise with on piracy matters, especially where they reckon criminal action rather than civil litigation is a better response to high-level copyright infringing activity. And indeed record industry trade body the BPI not only liaises closely with the unit, but also has one of its internet investigators on secondment there.

Welcoming the government’s new commitment to fund the City Of London Police’s IP work, the BPI’s Copyright Protection Unit chief David Wood said in a statement: “The work of PIPCU to date has been invaluable in tackling piracy, which is recognised as a significant threat to musicians’ income, investment in new businesses and the growth of the UK’s creative economy. This funding demonstrates the commitment of the UK government to promoting respect for intellectual property, which acts as the backbone of growth for our world-leading creative and digital media sectors”.

He went on: “Over the next two years, we hope that the combined efforts of the government, enforcement bodies and the voluntary measures undertaken by the creative sector – through Creative Content UK – will result in a step change in attitudes towards piracy and usage of legitimate channels for online content”.