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Call for UK retailers to support Operation Unity 4

The UK's Home Entertainment Corporation Chairman Iain Muspratt (picture) is to lead a fourth anti-piracy initiative aimed at identifying local-level pirate DVD sellers in April.

Operation Unity has been carried out through IP Awareness Trust and complements the high level targeting undertaken by FACT. It has secured at least five convictions to date.

Muspratt said that he will be writing to the Chief Executives of all major retailers of DVD software in the UK in order to ensure that Unity has the widest support at local level.

“We must not forget that our industry is worth over $4.5 billion in the UK and the amount that we invest in anti piracy activities has to be adequate to stem the huge tide of loss of legitimate business,” he said. “The BVA currently estimates that 42% of new release sales in the UK are pirate copies. That is enormous and the more we can work together as an industry to minimise the distribution opportunities and increase the risk of breaking the law the better.

“Local staff obviously have local knowledge, which means that everyone that works within Unity is in an absolutely superb position to be able to provide evidence on which the industry can act.” He also called for Trading Standards Officers to be empowered under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

“The decision now rests with the Office of Deputy Prime Minister and as an industry we need a positive response without delay — not merely for our benefit but to ensure that the huge losses of tax revenue to the Exchequer are stemmed,” Muspratt said.

In separate developments, the Metropolitan Police has joined forces with anti-piracy body FACT to form a dedicated Film Piracy Unit.

The newly launched police unit will combat film piracy and organised criminal networks producing and distributing counterfeit films. It will also seize funds from people and organisations amassing criminal profits and leading wealthy lifestyles from film piracy.

The year-long trial is funded by FACT to the tune of more than £400,000 – an additional piece of financing provided by the film companies. It puts the UK film industry on a par with the banking industry which finances a dedicated cheque card fraud unit.

“It’s a recognition by the UK’s biggest police force of the seriousness of the crime ,” said Raymond Leinster, FACT Director General. “It’s the UK leading the way – it’s something that, as far as we know, hasn’t happened anywhere else in the world. It’s a major initiative for the film industry worldwide. It will assist FACT’s capacity to address and confront the threats from organised networks which are making significant profits from film piracy. (Source: Cue Entertainment).

Story filed 05.03.06

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