THE CITY OF LONDON POLICE has opened an intellectual property (IP) crime unit to tackle copyright infringement.
Business Secretary Vince Cable gave the unit the green light last year, and today the UK Intellectual Property Office said it will kick in £2.5m in funding over the next two years.
This isn't much cash when you consider the supposed scale of the perceived problem, which the police announcement said adds up to hundreds of millions a year.
"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," said Adrian Leppard, commissioner of the City of London Police.
"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."
It is likely that some of the money and effort will go towards shutting down websites that the IP crime unit targets. According to the police seven million people from the UK visit websites that offer 'illegal' content and supposedly contribute to a creative arts industry income shortfall of around £80bn.
"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," said Minister for Intellectual Property Lord Younger.
"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." µ