DVD piracy in the UK hasincreased by over 40 per cent during the first quarter of 2005, according tothe second annual report by the UK's Industry Trust for IP Awareness.

The report reveals that thenumber of pirate discs confiscated by the Federation Against Copyright Theft(FACT) between January and March this year totalled 680,000, a 41 per centincrease on last year's total for the same period. Last year's seizures ofpirate DVDs totalled almost 3 million.

The report also indicatesthat home-grown piracy is on the increase since the seizure of imported pirateDVDs dropped by 50 per cent compared to last year.

The report says the value ofthe black market DVD trade is expected to exceed £1 billion within three yearsand was estimated to be worth £600 million last year.

The report also demonstratesthat piracy and serious crime are closely connected. Case studies compiled bythe Trust include examples of pirates engaging in activities such as moneylaundering and possession of weaponry and illegal drugs. It gives one exampleof a raid carried out by the police in East London in March this year that ledto a recovery of thousands of pirate DVDs as well as a large amount of illegaldrugs.

Lavinia Carey, the DirectorGeneral of the British Video Association, and Director of the Trust, said: "Asthese case studies clearly demonstrate, the sellers of pirate DVDs are involvedin a much wider web of criminality that also embraces drug dealing andexploitation of minors. Anyone who buys pirate DVDs has to open their eyes tothe fact that they may inadvertently be supporting the crime in their owncommunity."

The Industry Trust for IPAwareness is backed by a number of distributors and retailers including Pathe,Blockbuster, ColumbiaTristar Home Entertainment and Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

The report is released todayto coincide with the World Anti Counterfeiting Day.