Cybercriminals represented by handcuffsAction Fraud, the unit within The City of London Police that seeks out cybercriminals, has had its remit further increased with the formation of a new Intellectual Property Crime Unit (IPCU). In one of its first official activities, the IPCU has begun targeting domain name providers who have handled registrations for sites which then go on to host illegal content.

The IPCU has begun issuing letters to domain name providers asking them to suspend the names of websites where the “owners of the domains are suspected to be involved in the criminal distribution of copyrighted material either directly or indirectly and are liable to prosecution under UK law”.

Many high profile pirate sites have already been affected by these new measures, with some sites being taken offline completely as their domain names have been suspended by the provider. The IPCU has been advising providers of their responsibilities under the Fraud Act 2006 and the Copyright, Design & Patents Act 1988, both of which criminalise the unauthorised sharing of intellectual property (IP).

For legitimate website owners, the latest actions by the IPCU will be of little or no interest, and certainly will not have any effect on their own sites. However, where their IP is being infringed, the news that thieves and cybercriminals are losing access to pirate websites will be welcome.

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