UK IPO Hunting Piracy Suppression Validator

Anti-Piracy efforts have never gone as planned. Enforcement actions have never produced the results that were promised, so what can be done? The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is now looking to commission outside research to evaluate just how effective its policies are, and how better enforcement can be made more effective to meet industry-led goals.

The UK has been pushing extensive anti-piracy actions for several years now, through entities like the PIPCU and trading standards. The courts have also weighed in, jailing one Kodi box supplier for 4 years at the end of last year, while the Digital Economy Bill update passed in May increases penalties to a maximum of 10 years. The question many now want to know is “How effective is that?”

Chief amongst those that want to know is the UK Intellectual Property Office, who is requesting bids for researchers to find out just how effective current UK enforcement is.

The IPO is inviting fresh bids for this research into the effectiveness of the UK’s enforcement framework. The research has been split into two distinct parts:

  • part A will focus on developing evaluation criteria to assess the processes needed to enforce IP rights and the consequences of infringement
  • depending on the outcome of part A, part B, if taken forward, will focus on identifying recommendations for changing the enforcement framework

As such, the IPO is inviting bids from stakeholders interested in undertaking part A only at this stage. The decision to proceed with part B of the research will be taken after the results from part A have been considered.

While in theory this research might lead to reductions in enforcement mechanisms, (as time after time it has been shown that enforcement doesn’t reduce piracy, while offering a better product does) but considering previous consultations requesting evidence ended up accusing submission respondents of defamation when they presented unfavourable evidence, that’s unlikely.

And even if (or more likely when) the research shows that the enforcement actions aren’t working, there is an ominous undertone hinting at ever-more onerous and severe penalties. The trend in sanctions has always ratcheted up, so there’s no reason to think it will reverse direction, especially as the plan references the “IP Enforcement 2020 strategy”, which boasts figures that sometimes don’t match the claimed sources.

If all this sounds appealing though, you have until July 26th to bid. Details are on the Gov.UK website, and could be an interesting fallback, if you didn’t get the job as a researcher at FACT.