'Music Piracy Reaching Epidemic Proportions'
Counterfeiting and piracy is reaching epidemic proportions because of the internet and auction sites such as eBay, it has been revealed. The internet is now at the heart of piracy involving illegally copied software, music and films and for disposing of fake goods through eBay and other auctions sites which costs Britons billions of pounds a year.
The music industry alone estimates that one person in every street in the UK is illegally producing music. The National Intellectual Property Enforcement Report, produced by a variety of organisations including police, customs and industry, states: "The use of the internet is ever present. Nearly every report names it as a major avenue for counterfeit sellers.
"The fluid and international nature of internet trading, particularly via online auction sites in counterfeits is seen as a massive challenge."
The Intellectual Property Crime Group, set up in 2004 by the Patent Office and involving enforcement agencies and industry groups which produced the document, says one reason for the rise is the public perception that counterfeiting is a "victimless crime." It adds: "There appears to be a particular lack of understanding of the extent to which counterfeiting and piracy is 'big business' with the involvement of international criminal networks."
And increasingly the counterfeiting actually takes place by crime groups in Britain rather than gangs operating abroad, the government backed report warned today.
While factories in the Far East are still the biggest supplier of fake clothes and pharmaceuticals, home-grown piracy of films and computer software is now a bigger threat than imported goods, it said.
The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) estimates the cost to the film, broadcasting industries in the UK at £818 million a year in lost sales and jobs, and nets criminals £278 million.