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"CRIMINALS BENEFIT WHEN YOU BUY FAKES" SAYS ALLIANCE AGAINST INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY THEFT

29 June 2005

New figures show black market for fakes worth over £9 billion

The Alliance Against Intellectual Property (IP) Theft today reveals that the UK's black market in counterfeit and pirated goods is netting the organised criminal gangs behind the trade an estimated £9 billion a year.

This figure includes the growing illegal trade in fake CDs, DVDs, computer games, and branded goods. In addition, business software companies are losing over £1 billion a year. Some people believe that this is an acceptable way to obtain bargains, but this illegal activity supports local, national and international crime, as well as exposing the public to substandard and potentially harmful products.

To arrive at their estimate, the Alliance (previously the Alliance Against Counterfeiting & Piracy) surveyed its members which include representatives from film and video, music, games software, design, publishing and manufacturing. Alliance Chair, Lavinia Carey, commented:

“This is a truly staggering figure. It clearly shows that the manufacture and trade in fakes of all kinds is a low risk, high profit activity for criminals to engage in. They have scant regard for consumers and will happily sell products which could be potentially harmful. We have recently seen cases of fake Star War toys being sold coated with paint containing high levels of lead and fake Bold washing powder which causes skin rashes. And when we uncover evidence of other serious crimes these traders are involved in the scale of the problem and money involved becomes quite alarming. This thriving black market must be removed to ensure consumers and local businesses are protected.”

John Whittingdale, MP for Maldon and Chelmsford East, is using his success in the private members’ ballot to introduce legislation to make it harder for this illegal trade to take place at occasional markets like car boot sales. Speaking at the Alliance’s Summer Reception this evening, John will say:

“Occasional sales should be for local people and legitimate enterprise. Too often they are infiltrated by criminal elements seeking to make a quick profit with no concern for safety or the law. My Occasional Sales Bill will introduce measures to give Trading Standards more powers to prosecute market organisers who persistently allow illegal fake goods to be sold. It will also introduce a deterrent by requiring sellers to register their details with organisers and require owners and organisers to notify the local authority of their events.

“After similar legislation was introduced in neighbouring Kent in 2001, my Essex constituency saw an influx of illegal traders as a result, so by introducing national legislation all regions can benefit from the proposed measures to reduce crime. They would go a long way to ensuring that local markets remain the great places they should be for people to find a bargain, without the risk of inadvertently handing over money to criminals.”

For information about joining the Alliance please contact Susie Winter at susie@allianceagainstiptheft.co.uk or on 020 7534 0595