June 6 2013
The City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has sent letters to two websites known for sharing links to copyrighted material, both of which operate from outside the UK (although the actual identity of those websites has not been made known). The letters accuse the owners of committing a crime under the UK’s Serious Crime Act 2007, and threaten them with jail sentences of up to 10 years if they do not cooperate. They have been given a deadline of July 14 to respond to the letters.
The NFIB are better known for tackling serious crimes related to identity fraud, serial offenders, criminal gangs and organised crime. In this case however, they are working with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT – an organization that largely represents the interests of Hollywood studios), and the Publishers Society in an initiative they claim will also protect consumers from ‘malware and other harmful programs’. All of these organizations are well known for campaigning and lobbying the government in favour of hard-line measures against copyright theft.
“”These websites are able to operate and profit from advertising on their sites without having licenses or paying the creators and owners of the films, TV programmes, music and publications… Intellectual property crime is a serious offence that is costing the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds each year”, said the London Police in a formal statement, adding that such activity was an indictable offence.
Pressure from organizations such as those behind in this action have led to an increasingly draconian response from the UK government, which has also ordered ISP’s to block a number of high profile torrent sites at the IP level, including The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy.