The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is a unit of the
City of London Police The City of London Police is the territorial police force A territorial police force is a police The police are a constituted body of persons A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such ...
, the national lead force for
fraud In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...

. It was established in 2013 with the responsibility to investigate and deter serious and organised
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...
crime in the
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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 A detective is an investigator, usually a member of a law enforcement agency. They often collect information to solve crimes by talking to witnesses and informants, collecting physical evidence, or searching records in databases. This leads them ...

and police staff investigators. Part of PIPCU’s remit 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 selling counterfeit goods. These websites have also been linked to
identity theft Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person's personal identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The term ''identity theft'' was coi ...

identity theft


The operationally-independent unit was launched in September 2013 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. 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 from the UK’s top advertising spending companies on copyright infringing websites and an 87% drop in adverts for licensed gambling operators 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. In April 2017, PIPCU launched the IP Crime Directory, a database for
customs Customs is an authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that u ...

and police officers to help them identify counterfeit goods with the information uploaded by rights and brand holders.

Operation Creative

Operation Creative, formerly Operation Trade Bridge, 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', the majority of domain name suspension requests are denied.


In December 2015 they arrested a
karaoke Karaoke (; ; , clipped compoundIn linguistics, a clipped compound is a word produced from a compound word by reducing its parts while retaining the meaning of the original compound.Elisa Mattiello, "An Introduction to English Slang: A Descriptio ...

subtitle creation gang. By August 2015, 317 domain suspension requests had been issued. In March 2021 they claimed the
Sci-Hub #REDIRECT Sci-Hub #REDIRECT Sci-Hub#REDIRECT Sci-Hub Sci-Hub is a shadow library website that provides free access to millions of research papers and books, without regard to copyright, by bypassing publishers' paywall A paywall is a metho ...
website could "pose a threat" to university students' personal data.

Immunicity arrest

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. to allow circumvention of both blocking types. However on 6 August 2014 the owner was arrested by the PIPCU under anti-fraud legislation. Anti-censorship supporters created clones of the site such as Immun.es (which closed down shortly after launching) and routingpacketsisnotacrime.uk 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

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. Sites are identified as infringing by and the list is not made available to the public. As of 12 August a freedom of information request from
TorrentFreak __NOTOC__ TorrentFreak (TF) is a blog A blog (a truncation In mathematics and computer science, truncation is limiting the number of numerical digit, digits right of the decimal point. Truncation and floor function Truncation of positi ...
revealed: 74 domains are subject to the advertiser blocking programme, of which of October 2014 only 2 domains had ever been removed from the list. 83
advertising companiesThe advertising industry is the global Industry (economics), industry of public relation and marketing companies, media services and advertising agencies - largely controlled today by just a few international holding companies (WPP plc, Omnicom, Publ ...
with a UK presence are currently participating. Working with the media and advertiser industry body, the
Audit Bureau of Circulations International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulations The International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulations Logo The International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulations (IFABC) is an organisation founded in 1963 in Stockholm ...
(ABC) created a technology portal called 'Project Sunblock'. If PIPCU do not receive a response from the website operators, the host or registrar 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. In 2014 the PIPCU removed payment provisions from 4,650 offending sites with a .co.uk address from sites on the infringing websites list.Hansard

See also

Ad filtering Ad blocking or ad filtering is a software Software is a collection of instructions Instruction or instructions may refer to: Computing * Instruction, one operation of a processor within a computer architecture instruction set * Computer pr ...
* Domain name - Seizures *
Intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...


External links

* {{UK policing units 2013 establishments in the United Kingdom Government agencies established in 2013 Intellectual property organizations National law enforcement agencies of the United Kingdom category:City of London Police