The government has agreed to provide Â£3 million of funding for the City Of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) though until 2017 and has left the door open to further funding beyond then. PIPCU has been at the forefront of the fight against online piracy, having shut down several websites hosting links to infringing material and actively investigating dozens more.
Intellectual Property Minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe claimed that intellectual property crime cost the UK at least Â£1.3 billion a year in lost profits and taxes. She also underlined the importance of IP to the economy, pointing out that investment in IP was now higher than in the manufacturing sector. City of London Police echoed the importance of protecting intellectual property, with the force’s Steve Head claiming that PIPCU had moved away from traditional policing tactics and embraced new and innovative ways to combat the challenges posed by piracy. PIPCU’s success may be attributable to this shift in focus.
Rightsholders have welcomed the work of PIPCU and its achievements to date in challenging online piracy a threat which many believed to be insurmountable prior to PIPCU’s formation. Notwithstanding this, however, many in the creative industries accept that the threat faced by online piracy is prevalent and continues to harm everybody whose income relies heavily on IP. Infringers are constantly changing their approaches to piracy to circumvent blocks put in place by rightsholders and crackdowns by PIPCU. As such, there is no end game in sight in this ongoing battle.