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PIPCU make nationwide arrests as they dismantle illegal karaoke streaming operation

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has dismantled a gang suspected of uploading and distributing tens of thousands of karaoke tracks online, including artists such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and Kanye West.

The City of London Police unit this morning (December 15) made three arrests – one man in Barnstaple, Devon and two men in Bury, Lancashire – and took them in for questioning at local police stations.

The suspects, collectively trading under the label name of Karaoke RG, had come to the attention of a company that legitimately manufactures and distributes music and products for the karaoke industry.

They noticed that a large number of their tracks were being uploaded to the KickAss torrent website within days of them becoming available on their own online platforms.

In June 2015 the case was referred by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) to PIPCU, with their investigation reaching a key point today with the arrests of the three men, aged 60, 53, and 50 at their homes in the South West and North West.

Their properties were searched and police seized computers, laptops and a number of documents.

PIPCU estimate that hundreds of albums have had their copyright uploaded by the men, leading to thousands and thousands of tracks being accessed illegally and depriving legitimate music companies of a significant amount of money.

Detective Constable Ceri Hunt, from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said:

“The illegal downloading of copyrighted music may seem like a harmless thing to do, but the reality is that these individual offences are collectively damaging one of our key creative industries – costing people who work in the music industry millions of pounds and threatening thousands of jobs.

“PIPCU will continue to target the individuals and the organised crime gangs facilitating these crimes, working with key partners like the BPI to ensure that those most responsible are brought to justice.”

John Hodge, BPI Head of Internet Investigations:

"Instances of commercial-scale copyright infringement are not exempt from investigation and anyone found to be facilitating such illegal activity is not immune from prosecution. Our work with PIPCU – and all of our partners - will continue to identify pirates across the UK and should act as a red flag to anyone engaging in similar counterfeit or criminal activity.

"The Release Groups which set themselves up to gain Kudos from the early release of music repertoire need to understand that this behaviour is harmful to the industry that they claim to support. Actions like this send a strong message that this should not and will not be tolerated.​"

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit is a specialist national police unit dedicated to protecting the UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content from intellectual property crime.

The operationally independent unit was launched in September 2013 with funding from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The unit is based within the Economic Crime Directorate of the City of London Police, which is the National Policing Lead for Fraud.