The BPI’s Content Protection Unit (CPU) is a brilliant team working to protect digital and physical music content for our members. To sum up the work that we do, here are 3 of our headline statistics:

  • On the digital front, the BPI is ranked first in the world by Google for URLs removed due to copyright. We are the only organisation in the world with over half a billion URLs removed, a 96.2% success rate.
  • On the physical front, the value of seizures from our investigations was over £30.6M in 2020-2022.
  • We achieve this with a team of 15 dedicated professionals.

Of course, stats don’t tell the full story.

Our physical investigators have world-leading insights into piracy, being one of the only in-house teams retained by rights holders and trade associations over the last two decades. The UK has one of the lowest rates of music piracy in the world and it is this continuity of expertise, collaborative working and dedication that lays behind these incredible numbers.

Whilst our work is highly technical, here are some key areas that provide an overview of how we have operated historically, in the present and into the future.

  • Harnessing technology

We utilise a bespoke platform to manage our industry leading delisting programme, which complements our team’s expertise. Our combination of technology and knowledge allows us to delist infringing websites in the volumes that we do.

To tackle physical piracy, the BPI developed the internationally accepted Source Identification Code system that identifies the source of all optical media mastered, manufactured, or replicated by any establishment or entity. For these efforts, the inventor Derek Varnals, was awarded an MBE.

  • The value of partnerships

Over years of developing trusted partners within the industry, the BPI has secured changes to global policies and practices with Google, Bing, Facebook, eBay, Discogs and Amazon, among many others. Our trusted partner status allows us to ensure clean search results and delist in greater volumes from platforms and marketplaces.

  • Follow the Money

Intellectual Property crime often funds, or goes hand-in-hand, with other forms of criminality as penalties are lesser. By targeting and disrupting funding, the key motivation to commit this kind of crime is addressed. This has included working with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and joining the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) to demote illegal sites, disrupt funding and prosecute the worst offenders.

  • Securing blocking orders and prosecuting the worst offenders

Our legal team has secured landmark blocking orders against notorious sites such as The Pirate Bay, BitTorrent sites, MP3 Aggregators, Cyberlockers and Stream Rippers.

Earlier this year, our Investigators generated national news coverage for two cases. The first was the six-year-long BPI led Operation Redwood investigation that resulted in four convictions, accumulating over five years’ worth of prison sentences and over £1.3m in fines for vinyl counterfeiters. The second saw a conviction brought in by another BPI-led case where more than £1m worth of vinyl was seized in Dorset, with the defendant being ordered to forfeit nearly £380,000 or face three years imprisonment. 

  • The future

One of the BPI’s key focuses is AI and the potential opportunities but also the risks it presents to the intellectual property of our members. BPI is a signatory to the Human Artistry Campaign, which sets out 12 principles for AI and how valuing human creativity and accomplishment must be at the heart of how AI and public policy relating to it needs to evolve in future. CPU is working closely with the Public Affairs and Insights team here at the BPI to identify what this may mean for our work in years to come.

Keep an eye out for our brand new series of content protection webinars, launching later this year as our unit works towards producing more interactive content for our members!

We welcome feedback from members so if you have any questions or would  like to be involved in the discussion around our work, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

Niki Haywood - Investigations & Enforcement Manager