PIPCU shares anti-piracy best practice
By Colin Mann

The UK’s Police Intellectual Property Unit (PIPCU) has worked with international law enforcement and private sector partners at a global intellectual property (IP) conference to share best practice and guidance on tackling online IP crime.

The event – Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights on the Internet – was organised by Eurojust, Europol and OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market) in Alicante and brought together experienced investigators from customs and police, public prosecutors, private stakeholders, policy makers and judiciary representatives.

Noting that the Internet is becoming a crucial issue for debate, especially in relation to IP crime as counterfeit goods flood the net and masses of music, films and books are illegally uploaded and shared, the conference focused on helping EU Member States and developing nations deal with this phenomenon and strengthening industry cooperation.

Detective Inspector Robert Stirling co-chaired a workshop on digital piracy and presented on PIPCU’s role in the fight against IP crime and its work to tackle copyright infringing websites as part of Operation Creative.

Operation Creative is an initiative designed to disrupt and prevent copyright infringing websites, in partnership with the creative and advertising industries. The project contacts owners of websites providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content and offers them the opportunity to engage with the police, to correct their behaviour and begin to operate legitimately. If a website fails to comply and engage with the police, then a variety of other tactical options may be used including: contacting the domain registrar to seek suspension of the site; advert replacement and disrupting advertising revenue through the use of an Infringing Website List (IWL).

Speaking after the event, DI Stirling said: “Intellectual property crime costs the UK economy millions of pounds a year and with the popularity of the internet, online IP crime is not going to go away any time soon. Therefore it is incredibly important that we raise awareness with our law enforcement and private sector partners, not only in the UK but across the globe, so we can build a unified response to tackling this problem together.”

Stirling said it was “really encouraging” to hear from several international organisations that were interested in PIPCU’s initiatives and seeking advice and best practice to adopt similar models at home.

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 is funded by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills