Cyber attacks on the music industry: The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit to the rescue

As the world sees an increase of cyber crime targeting major cities and commercial institutions, intellectual property rights have come under attack from various illegal actors.

Earlier this year, it was identified that the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (‘PIPCU’) has been responsible for disrupting various intellectual property crime valued at £719 million since its inception.

In 2013, the PIPCU was created to protect UK industries that produced “hard goods and digital content from intellectual property crime” .

Recently, the PIPCU arrested a suspected hacker that it believes to be responsible for stealing unreleased songs from acclaimed artists worldwide, by hacking into their websites and cloud-based accounts. The individual was arrested in Ipswich under suspicion of copyright infringement and computer misuse crimes. The hacker was attempting to sell the files for cryptocurrency (a digital asset designed to work as a form of exchange that utilises strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets).

The music industry has gone through a massive change from consumers buying music CDs to the modern use of iTunes and Spotify to download music. This means that music is prone to illegal downloads and some consumers no longer pay the artist for their music. This has meant that artists have to tour and brand themselves in order to make substantial profit. Consequently, the theft of music leaves artists in a very vulnerable position, especially when significant funds have been used to pay producers, songwriters and other departments.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York contacted the London Metropolitan Police Office about the suspected hacker. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had been investigating the suspect after receiving information from some artists’ management companies. If the suspected hacker is found to be guilty, he will be charged under UK law.

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