New study to probe illicit financial flows from intellectual property crime

The independent think tank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), has launched a project to examine the structure and disruption of illicit finance flows from intellectual property (IP) in the UK.

Jul 3, 2020
By Tony Thompson
Illegal streaming devices are one form of IP theft.

IP crime poses a security threat to the UK, and is increasingly carried out by sophisticated, networked organised crime groups (OCGs) capable of operating across multiple jurisdictions.

IP crime has historically been perceived as a relatively harmless and ‘victimless’ crime despite being frequently being linked to other offences such as fraud, loan sharking and drug dealing.

For law enforcement, IP crime has traditionally been a low priority, with limited understanding of the manner in which OCGs earn, launder and use the proceeds of IP crime.

The new project will examine the landscape of criminal activity around intellectual property crime, including criminal structures, the role of businesses and institutions in preventing, combating and regulating intellectual property crime. In particular, it will explore the financial business models of organised crime groups involved in illicit streaming, piracy and the counterfeiting of related merchandise.

Culminating in a report for policymakers and practitioners, this project will examine several key questions:

  • What types of criminal structures are involved in illicit streaming, piracy and related counterfeiting in the audio-visual sector and what business models do they exploit?
  • What volume of criminal proceeds is derived from illicit streaming, piracy and related counterfeiting in the audio-visual sector and how are these proceeds moved?
  • What is currently being done to track and disrupt the illicit financial flows derived from IP crime?
  • How can intermediaries, such as financial institutions, play a role in the disruption of illicit streaming and piracy?
  • How can the UK improve its response to IP crime from a follow-the-money perspective?

The project is being funded through a coalition of public-private partners, composed of the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Alliance for Intellectual Property, the Premier League, Motion Picture Association and the British Association for Screen Entertainment.

Keith Ditcham, director, Organised Crime and Policing at RUSI, said: “Despite intellectual property crime representing a growing national security threat to the UK, it does not, in my view get the attention it deserves. Through increasing our understanding of intellectual property crime we could not only make a positive impact on this crime but also help disrupt the criminal activities of those organised crime groups engaged in wider criminality that affects the national security of the UK.”

Dr Ros Lynch, director for copyright for the IPO said: “This is an excellent example of collaboration to achieve efficient pooling of knowledge, expertise and resource for tackling IP crime. This research is vital for exploring links between organised crime, illicit streaming, piracy and counterfeiting.

“The IPO continues to support industry in tackling the causes and impacts of IP crime through funding the Police IP Crime Unit (PIPCU), commissioning independent research to inform policy and supporting industry partnerships through the IP Crime Group.”

Dan Guthrie, Director-General for the Alliance for Intellectual Property said:  “We know there is serious criminality involved in counterfeiting and piracy but we don’t have a deep understanding of how these criminals operate and how it links to other forms of crime.  The in-depth study by RUSI will provide an opportunity to shine a light on a form of criminality that brings cultural, economic and social damage across our communities.  We will then look forward to sharing the research with law enforcement bodies and policymakers to find ways to reduce this harmful crime.”

Related News

Select Vacancies

Chief Constable

Humberside Police

Assistant Chief Constable

Greater Manchester Police

Copyright © 2024 Police Professional