27/09/2004

Paramilitaries 'behind 80% of all counterfeiting' in NI

Paramilitary groups run around 80% of all counterfeiting operations in Northern Ireland, the Organised Crime Task Force has said.

Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire and Manchester University have teamed up with the Northern Ireland Office and a number of major trade associations to find answers to some of the questions about the attractions of buying counterfeit goods.

Project leader, Dr Jo Bryce, said that as the global counterfeiting market was worth in the region of £195 billion, the potential effect of this illegal market was enormous.

"Beyond a very simple notion that people buy counterfeits good because they are cheaper than the legitimate item, there is a lack of any real data about people’s buying patterns and the motivations of consumers who see little harm in buying copied DVDs, fake handbags, or counterfeit food, alcohol or medicine," Dr Bryce said.

Working with a project board that includes representatives from the British Phonographic Industry, British Video Association, Business Software Alliance, Entertainment Leisure Software Publishers Association, Federation Against Copyright Theft, The Patent Office, and the Alliance Against Counterfeiting & Piracy the researchers have been conducting what looks like the first independent national study of counterfeit consumption.

So far 15,000 postal questionnaires have been sent out in England and Northern Ireland. As a further part of this work, an online survey is currently running specifically aimed at Internet users. This looks at consumer attitudes concerning issues around the purchase of counterfeit goods, downloading music and films from the Internet, and understanding the dangers of counterfeit goods.

The survey can be accessed via www.iptocproject.org/partic.htm and everyone who completes the questionnaire is given the opportunity to be entered for a prize draw.

(MB/GMCG)

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