RUSI Report

Emerging cybercrime threats underline the need for an online community that works for all of us

March 9, 2021
By Stan McCoy, President & Managing Director MPA EMEA

Over my time at the MPA, industry and law enforcement have made great strides in responding to and reducing incidents of online piracy of TV, film and other entertainment. We do this because it is vital to protect the work of everyone working in front of and behind the camera; together they make the quality content audiences everywhere love to watch.

Despite the progress, the threat is growing more sophisticated.  A worrying new report published by the respected UK Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) reveals that online piracy of TV, film and live sports content is being increasingly perpetrated by transnational organized crime groups who exploit gaps in the legitimate financial and regulatory infrastructure for online services.

Particularly telling is RUSI’s finding that “money laundering – that is, the movement and use of criminal proceeds – is by necessity an ‘indispensable element’ of IP crime, including piracy”.

The report highlights that pirate content distribution models have become more sophisticated and professionalized. RUSI’s experts have found that piracy operations are now carried out by a mixture of technically skilled and well-coordinated crime groups or individual offenders.

These crimes cause direct harm to consumers. International criminal organizations are using advertising, malware, fraud, and surreptitious cryptomining to generate hundreds of millions of pounds each year from their users. The impact of this activity is significant, undermining legitimate online commerce to the tune of potentially millions every year.

The MPA proudly supported RUSI’s work alongside the UK Intellectual Property Office, the Alliance for Intellectual Property, the Industry Trust, and the Premier League. We did so because we believe it’s critical to understand how infringement is evolving, so that we are better equipped to address it.

So, what can we do about it? How can we ensure all those involved with safeguarding the online environment are equipped to stamp out this trend? To tackle this criminal activity, RUSI is calling for a coordinated approach, bringing together law enforcement, regulators, financial institutions, and the private sector.

The RUSI report specifically recommends that know your business customer (KYBC) rules “should be introduced to require online service providers to record and verify, to the extent possible, the identity of their business customers.”

Strengthening the KYBC rules, the report finds, will ensure that these providers record and verify the identity of their business customers, denying service to rogue actors and providing law enforcement with crucial information when abuse occurs. This new strategy for enhancing safety and trust in the online ecosystem is gathering momentum in both the EU and the UK.  (For more information, visit

RUSI’s research makes an important contribution to the discussion around making the virtual world safe, proposing clear steps to “take the profit out of piracy” and out of the hands of organized crime. At the MPA, we agree that it is vital for all of us to work together for a reality in which creators and their business partners enjoy protection against cybercrime and are able to continue making the content audiences love. And to give EU citizens what they expect – a safe online environment.


Stan McCoy, President & Managing Director MPA EMEA