Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit

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The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is a department of the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud. It was established in 2013[1] with the responsibility to investigate and deter serious and organised intellectual property crime in the United Kingdom.

It is based in City of London Police’s headquarters at Guildhall Yard East. The unit consists of 19 police officers and staff, including detectives and police staff investigators.

Part of PIPCU’s remit[2] is to protect consumers from harm, focusing on intellectual property crime that has public safety implications. Since its inception, it has investigated intellectual property crime worth more than £100 million concerning counterfeit goods or digital piracy, and suspended 28,000 websites[3] selling counterfeit goods. These websites have also been linked to identity theft.


The operationally-independent unit was launched in September 2013[4] with funding from the UK government's Intellectual Property Office. It was announced in August 2017 that PIPCU will receive a further £3.2 million from the IPO to fund the unit to June 2019[5].

In 2013, the unit began Operation Creative to disrupt and prevent websites from providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content in partnership with the creative and advertising industries. Rights holders in the creative industries can report copyright infringing websites to PIPCU, providing a detailed package of evidence indicating how the site is involved in illegal copyright infringement. Research has shown that there has been a 64% decrease in advertising[6] from the UK’s top advertising spending companies on copyright infringing websites and an 87% drop in adverts for licensed gambling operators[7] being displayed on illegal sites that infringe copyright.

In 2013, Operation Ashiko was created to targets the sale of online physical counterfeit goods and aims to seize the domains of infringers. [8]

In April 2017, PIPCU launched the IP Crime Directory[9], a database for customs and police officers to help them identify counterfeit goods with the information uploaded by rights and brand holders.[10]

Operation Creative[edit]

Operation Creative, formerly Operation Trade Bridge,[11] is an ongoing campaign against alleged copyright infringing sites and their advertising network. A number of torrent and streaming sites have been either shut down, had their domains seized or threatened by the PIPCU. Whilst over 100 websites have been 'dealt with',[12] the majority of domain name suspension requests are denied.[13]


Date Action Site/Domain Result
October 9, 2013 Domain Suspensions[14] SumoTorrent
ExtraTorrent via PDR Ltd
emp3world.com via PDR Ltd
full-albums.net via PDR Ltd
maxalbums.com via PDR Ltd
Moved to SumoTorrent.sx
Moved to ExtraTorrent.cc[15]
Restored via EasyDNS
Restored via EasyDNS
Restored via EasyDNS
October 9, 2013 Suspension Request[14] TorrentPond via EasyDNS Registrar publicly refused request
December 2013 40 domains suspended.[16] - -
April 9, 2014 Domain Seizure, Arrest[17] Boxing Guru domains
Site closure
Site closure
April 21, 2014 Domain Seizure[18] thesportstorrentnetwork.co.uk Site closure
May 24, 2014 Domain Seizure[19] Delishows[20]
Site moved to delishows.to[citation needed]
Site moved to Cricfree.eu. August 17 domain was returned
May 24, 2014 Domain Seizure[21] Filecrop Site closure
May 26, 2014 Unlawful domain suspension[22] Torrentz.eu via Nazwa Domain unsuspended May 27 (next day)
June 4, 2014 Domain Seizure[20] Putlocker.bz Domain unsuspended
Site moved to bestv.ch
August 2014 Domain Seizure[citation needed] Potlocker.re Site moved to Potlocker.me
August 6, 2014 Domain Seizures, Arrest[23] Immunicity and various proxy sites Temporary site closure
Clone sites launched
September 2, 2014 Domain Seizure[24] OnRead via InternetBS
September 2, 2014 Arrest[25] CoolSport.se, CoolSport.tv and KiwiSportz.tv Charges dropped October 13[26]
September 11, 2014 Domain Seizure[27] mp3juices.com Site closure
Initially relaunched as mp3juices.cc
Officially relaunched as mp3juices.to in November 2014[28]
October 4, 2014 Domain Seizure[29] Frombar.com (Spotle Network) via eNom Site voluntarily disabled UK access on other domains[30]
March 13, 2015 Arrest - "DJ Mikey L", tracker shut down[31] Karaoke-World.co.uk
March 18, 2015 Arrest - "Sir Paul"[32] WWE and UFC uploader

In December 2015 they arrested a karaoke subtitle creation gang.[33]

By August 2015, 317 domain suspension requests had been issued.[34]

Immunicity arrest[edit]

Immunicity logo.jpg

In response to the new round of web blocking in the UK in conjunction with the copyright infringing site blocking programmes, a service called Immunicity was launched.[35] to allow circumvention of both blocking types. However on August 6, 2014 the owner was arrested[36] by the PIPCU under anti-fraud legislation.[37] Anti-censorship supporters created clones of the site such as Immun.es[23] (which closed down shortly after launching) and routingpacketsisnotacrime.uk[38] to resurrect the service.

By August 2015 the immunicity domain was back under the control of anti-censorship activists and displays a website inviting people to use Tor and other anonymity services.

Infringing website list[edit]

PIPCU maintains an 'Infringing Website List' (IWL), a portal for digital advertisers to be informed of sites containing infringing content with the intention that they cease advertising on them.[39] Sites are identified as infringing by rights holders and the list is not made available to the public.[40] As of August 12, a freedom of information request from TorrentFreak revealed:[41] 74 domains are subject to the advertiser blocking programme, of which of October 2014 only 2 domains[42] had ever been removed from the list. 83 advertising companies with a UK presence are currently participating.

Working with the media and advertiser industry body, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) created a technology portal called 'Project Sunblock'.[43] If PIPCU do not receive a response from the website operators, the host or registrar[12] of an allegedly infringing site, the site is added to the IWL via the Sunblock portal, which is then passed along to participating advertising networks for blacklisting. From June 2014 this technology allowed replacing the adverts of websites believed to be offering unauthorized content with warnings from PIPCU.[44]

Piracy warning replacing adverts

In 2014 the PIPCU removed payment provisions from 4,650 offending sites with a .co.uk address from sites on the infringing websites list.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About PIPCU". www.cityoflondon.police.uk. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  2. ^ "How PIPCU operates". www.cityoflondon.police.uk. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  3. ^ "Police shut 28,000 websites selling counterfeits". Sky News. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  4. ^ "About PIPCU". www.cityoflondon.police.uk. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  5. ^ "PIPCU funding confirmed until 2017 - Commander Head "This is fantastic news for the City of London Police"". www.cityoflondon.police.uk. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  6. ^ "Operation Creative sees 64 per cent drop in UK advertising". www.cityoflondon.police.uk. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  7. ^ Media, Newton. "Gambling adverts on illegal sites drop 87%: research". www.trademarksandbrandsonline.com. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  8. ^ "PIPCU suspends more than 2,000 illegal websites since New Year". www.cityoflondon.police.uk. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  9. ^ "IP Crime Directory - Home". ipcrimedirectory.org. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  10. ^ "City Of London Police | Richard Branson endorses the City of London Police's Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Directory on World IP Day". news.cityoflondon.police.uk. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  11. ^ "City Police initative [sic] to battle illegal websites christened Operation Trade Bridge as Affectv comes on board". 16 July 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  12. ^ a b Kobie, Nicole. "Policing the web: anti-piracy and beyond". www.pcpro.co.uk. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  13. ^ Ernesto. "Domain Registrars Deny Police Requests to Suspend Pirate Sites".
  14. ^ a b Ernesto (9 October 2013). "UK Police Orders Registrars to Suspend Domains of Major Torrent Sites". Torrentfreak. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  15. ^ Andy (October 10, 2013). "ExtraTorrent Threatens Legal Action Over Police-Ordered Domain Seizure". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  16. ^ Solon, Olivia (12 December 2013). "With Operation Creative, police crack down on 'ad-funded' piracy". wired.co.uk. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  17. ^ Andy. "Police Arrest Streaming Site Admin, Several Domains Suspended".
  18. ^ Andy (21 April 2014). "UK Police Force Shutdown of Sports Torrent Network". Torrentfreak. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  19. ^ Ernesto (May 24, 2014). "Cricfree Bounces Back After UK Police Domain Seizure". TorrentFreak. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  20. ^ a b Ernesto (June 4, 2014). "Putlocker.BZ Loses Domain Name, Moves to "Safe Haven" Iceland". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  21. ^ Andy. "UK Police Shutdown File-Host Search Engine FileCrop". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  22. ^ Ernesto (May 27, 2014). "Torrentz.eu Domain Unsuspended and Back In Action". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  23. ^ a b Ernesto (August 11, 2014). "Immunicity Resurrected by Anti-Censorship Supporters". TorrentFreak. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  24. ^ Andy. "Anti-Piracy Police Begin Targeting eBook Pirates". Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  25. ^ Andy (September 2, 2014). "UK Police Make Third 'Pirate' Streaming Arrest". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  26. ^ Andy (October 13, 2014). "Police Drop Charges Against Industrial-Scale 'Pirate'". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  27. ^ Ernesto (11 September 2014). "UK Police Shut Down MP3 Search Engine MP3Juices". Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  28. ^ Ernesto. "MP3Juices Recovers From UK Police Shutdown With New Domain". Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  29. ^ Ernesto. "Police Seize Domain of Frombar Sports Streaming Site".
  30. ^ Ernesto (October 19, 2014). "Sports Streaming Site Hides Itself From The UK Piracy Police". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  31. ^ Andy (13 March 2015). "UK Police and PRS Shutdown Karaoke Torrent Site". Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  32. ^ Andy (March 18, 2015). "Police Arrest World's Most Prolific UFC and WWE Pirate". Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  33. ^ Andy (16 December 2015). "KickassTorrents "DIY" Karaoke 'Gang' Busted By UK Police". Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  34. ^ Ernesto (21 August 2015). "UK Piracy Police Asked Domain Registrars to Shut Down 317 Sites". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  35. ^ "Unblock Torrent Sites, Blocked Proxies, & Cameron's Porn Filter With Immunicity". TorrentFreak. July 28, 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  36. ^ Ernesto (August 6, 2014). "Police Arrest Operator of Torrent Site Proxies". TorrentFreak. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  37. ^ "The Laws PIPCU used to intimidate Immunicity". survivetheclaireperryinter.net. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  38. ^ "Andy". September 23, 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  39. ^ City of London Police call on advertising and brand sectors to help tackle cyber crime, PIPCU, 2014-03-31
  40. ^ UK Police Launch Pirate Site Blacklist for Advertisers, TorrentFreak, 2014-03-31
  41. ^ Ernesto. "UK Police Hijack Ads of 74 Pirate Websites, Refuse to Name Them". TorrentFreak. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  42. ^ "Number of sites removed from the PIPCU Infringing Website List". Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  43. ^ a b "Online Pirates Are Making Advertisers Walk the Plank". Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  44. ^ Lee, Dave. "Police placing anti-piracy warning ads on illegal sites". Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  45. ^ Hansard, 2015-01-28

External links[edit]