Brit pirate fighters cite terror tie

Annual black market DVD trade estimated at $932 mil

LONDON — The U.K. arms of the Hollywood majors have joined forces with retailers and rental orgs to launch Blighty’s biggest antipiracy campaign, pointing to a link between DVD piracy and terrorism.

The £1.5 million ($2.8 million) campaign, launched in London on Monday, is coordinated by the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, established earlier this year to combat piracy.

The value of the U.K. black market DVD trade is estimated to be worth $932 million annually and is expected to top $1.86 billion within three years.

“Piracy poses the largest single threat to our industry,” said Josh Berger, exec VP and managing director, Warner Bros. Entertainment U.K. “Efforts like the Industry Trust for IP Awareness are crucial to educating the consumer, and we are committed to supporting the work.” Ronald Noble, secretary general of international police org Interpol, said it had found evidence that DVD piracy was replacing drug trafficking as the preferred method of funding for terrorists due to high returns and relatively low risks. One kilo of pirated discs is worth more than one kilo of cannabis resin, and court punishments are more lenient for pirates than drug-dealers.

In Northern Ireland, the Organized Crime Task Force reports that paramilitary gangs carry out 80% of organized intellectual property crime. It is not only terrorists who are lining their pockets. Busts coordinated by pirate hit squad Fact and the police have discovered deep penetration by organized crime networks.

Cornerstone of the trust’s enterprise is a hard-hitting ad campaign targeting consumers of counterfeit product who are unaware of the potential damage they are doing by buying a pirate DVD.

“By challenging the public’s views about piracy being a victimless crime, we hope to make people stop and think where their money is going before they buy a pirate DVD,” said Lavinia Carey, director general of the British Video Assn.

The concerted awareness campaign follows a successful campaign in Germany that was lauded at Cinema Expo (Daily Variety, June 24). To lawyer Phillip Taylor, public awareness is only part of the problem. “There is an insufficient level of seriousness attached to this area of crime,” he said. “Pirates are not lovable rogues and this is not an amusing matter.”

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