Piracy production has moved to the UK, says report

Production of counterfeit digital goods is increasingly carried out within the UK, according to Intellectual Property Crime Group, a unit of The Patent Office.

In a report just published, the group said that it had confiscated 20% more DVD-R burners than in previous years, and that disc production was becoming domesticated in a way never previously seen.

"During 2005 there was a 20% increase of DVD-R burners seized, confirming the shift to UK produced items from imported pressed master discs," said the National Intellectual Property Enforcement Report.

"What was happening was that up to 18 months ago pressed discs from semi-legitimate factories were coming in from places like Malaysia," said Eddy Leviten, head of communications at the Federation Against Copyright Theft, the film and broadcast anti-piracy group. It was FACT's submission to the document which reported the rise in burner seizures.

"There was a very good campaign by the Motion Picture Association and HM Revenue and Customs and some foreign governments to clamp down on those factories which meant that criminals had to start to burn their own," said Leviten.

The number of seizures involving any burner in 2005 was 204, but Leviten said that the seemingly low figure does not take account of the volumes involved. "We have done seizures where there are 50 burners, which means 500 burning trays. Already this year we have had two raids with 500 trays each and one with 200 each," he said.

In its report of 1005 activity, the IP Crime Group claimed to have received 500,000 intelligence reports in a nine month period relating to intellectual property crime. The Patent Office has established a national IP crime database, called TELLPAT, which it says is recognised by the police, intelligence officers and trading standards officials.

Chairman of the Patent Office, Lord Sainsbury, said that the activities funded organised crime. "We suspect that all international crime organisations are now involved in counterfeiting," he said.

The report identified the internet as a major avenue of trade for fake goods, pinpointing auction sites as particularly useful for counterfeiters. It also said that counterfeit medicines are a growing market, with the incidence of their seizure rising by 45% in 2005.