Project I-SOP: INTERPOL Stop Online Piracy
Timeframe: 2021 to 2026
Budget: EUR 2.7 million
Donor: Republic of Korea, Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism
Online piracy affects many different types of digital content, such as software, music, TV, films and books. The illegal download and distribution of such content causes significant financial losses for the industries concerned, in turn affecting jobs and tax revenue.
It exposes consumers to related content that may be inappropriate or harmful, and can also be used to spread malware, Trojans and viruses which present clear security risks.
Online piracy is highly profitable to criminals and low risk, due to light penalties. Consumers are often unaware that profits from these crimes are linked to other criminal activities, such as money laundering, terrorist financing and human trafficking.
Organized Crime Groups involved in online piracy crimes frequently look like typical commercial companies, and are based on flexible structures, allowing them to adapt quickly to environmental changes.
INTERPOL launched Project I-SOP in response to the sharp rise in digital piracy crimes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Some countries reported an increase of more than 60 per cent in online piracy crimes in the 12 months from April 2020.
In collaboration with the Republic of Korea’s National Police and Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, INTERPOL is implementing a five-year project supporting enforcement actions, capacity building, research, and public awareness of online piracy and intellectual property (IP) crimes, such as trademark counterfeiting, copyright piracy and the online marketplaces used.
INTERPOL delivers capacity building and coordinates operational activities to tackle online piracy in partnership with enforcement agencies, international organizations, academia and the private sector.
This is accomplished through INTERPOL’s secure police communications system, I-24/7, criminal databases and the International IP Crime Investigators (IIPCIC) online training platform.
Project I-SOP draws on a range of expertise from specialized units at the INTERPOL General Secretariat, to coordinate operations, regional investigative and analytical case meetings, and other relevant events.
The range of activities includes:
- Increasing capacity in relevant law enforcement authorities to tackle digital piracy;
- Improving information exchange between public and private sectors;
- Collecting and analysing intelligence;
- Identifying and taking down websites and servers that facilitate digital piracy;
- Dismantling criminal networks involved in digital piracy and targeting their assets.
Operation EVO 1.2
Project I-SOP provided technical and analytical support to Portugal’s Polícia Judiciaria and Public Ministry in the takedown of EVO Release Group. The international criminal network is accused of illegally sharing copyrighted audio-visual products, causing losses of more than EUR one million.
The investigation, launched in 2022, identified the group’s servers, seized computer and mobile equipment, and resulted in the arrest of group’s leader. I-SOP deployed an officer to carry out analysis of the seized devices and provide a comprehensive report to authorities. Support will continue as the wider investigation progresses.
To mark World Intellectual Property Day, the I-SOP Project developed a series of infographics and messages for publication on social media. The posts, which ran on INTERPOL’s channels, raised awareness on the dangers of digital piracy, from legal considerations to associated cyberthreats.
For more information on how digital piracy might be #MoreThanYouBargainedFor, click here.
INTERPOL’s Advisory Group on Digital Piracy provides strategic support to the I-SOP operational team. Made up of representatives from INTERPOL National Central Bureaus, specialized law enforcement units and experts from private sector organizations, it assists in the following ways:
- Advising on key existing and emerging threats;
- Identifying cases as well as strategic and tactical information;
- Developing and promoting innovative tactics and techniques;
- Facilitating the production of high quality INTERPOL notices.