Organised crime linked to IP theft

Istanbul – A new report has highlighted the link between organised crime, piracy and the theft of intellectual property (IP).

The report, titled Confiscation of the proceeds of crime: A modern tool for deterring counterfeiting and piracy is jointly produced by the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Unit (Unicri) and the Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (Bascap).

The report, launched at the Global Conference on Counterfeiting and Piracy in Istanbul is intended to provide direction for policy makers on the link between organised crime syndicates and IP theft or abuse.

“Transnational organised crime networks have turned to counterfeiting and piracy to take advantage of the high profits and minimal penalties set forth by intellectual property rights law, as well as the weak enforcement measures associated with these crimes,” said Marco Musumeci, responsible for the anti-counterfeiting programme in Unicri.


According to a Business Software Alliance study, the global piracy rate for PC software is around 42%, but in developing countries like Venezuela the rate spikes to 88%, Georgia is at 91%, and Zimbabwe at 92%. Software piracy in SA is at 35%, according to the BSA study.

Unicri was careful not to assign blame to governments in countries where piracy was high, instead arguing that policy should be designed to drive up the cost of IP crime by tracing the financial routes.

“Proceeds of Crime laws are effective because they reduce the profitability of crime by depriving criminals of ill-gotten profits, resulting in a much greater punitive effect than imprisonment,” said Musumeci.

Corporations have realised the benefits of collaborating on fighting the theft of IP and Microsoft explained how it has partnered with search engine firms to remove links to suspicious links that may appear in search results.

“At Microsoft, we take down millions of links every year that are linked to infringing content. We send notice and take down letters to search engines and hosters, and we usually get a lot of co-operation from them,” said Juan Hardoy Microsoft anti-piracy lead for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The company also works closely with classified and auction in SA to limit the availability of illegal software.


“With bidorbuy, we’ve got an awesome relationship. If we find anything, we let them know. They’ve got a takedown process: They take it down and we very often co-operate where they’ll give us time to make a test purchase for law enforcement ,” Dale Waterman, Microsoft corporate attorney for anti-piracy in the Middle East and Africa told News24.

The effort to fight piracy is expensive and Bascap said that if used effectively, the programme could be self-funding.

“Not only are proceeds of crime laws effective deterrents, but governments can reinvest confiscated proceeds of crime to help law enforcement pay for itself,” said Bascap director Jeffrey Hardy.

– Follow Duncan on Twitter.
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