Study: U.K. lost $312 million in '05 to piracy.

To slash CD piracy, which a new survey says cost the U.K. music sector £165 million ($312 million) last year, the British music industry is urging the government to boost anti-crime authorities' enforcement powers.

Industry trade body BPI is calling on the government to encourage police authorities to prioritize intellectual-property crime and to give trading-standard authorities similar powers.

Additionally, the BPI wants the government to regulate outdoor sales markets (where pirates prefer to sell illegal CDs), to enforce tougher penalties, and to make employers liable for piracy in the workplace.

The BPI's appeal for greater statutory copyright protection follows the publication of a study it commissioned from research company IPSOS and conducted during February and March

The research, based on the behavior of 2,000 adults who admit to buying pirated CDs, concluded that 37 million units of unauthorized CDs were sold in the United Kingdom in 2005.

"Seven per cent of the respondents admitted to buying counterfeit CDs and said that, in 45% of cases, they would 'definitely have bought' the real thing had the fakes not been available," a BPI statement explained.

That amounts to more than 16 million units (valued at about £165 million) from the 37 million pirate discs sold in the United Kingdom last year, the BPI said.

The BPI, which participated in more than 900 piracy raids and legal cases in 2005, believes the solution lies with tougher enforcement regulations.

Despite evidence that organized criminals control a vast portion of entertainment piracy, intellectual-property crime is not considered to be a priority for the U.K. police.

And the Trading Standards Authorities, which are responsible for piracy raids, do not have the jurisdiction, power or resources to enforce copyright law with tough penalties or confront organized crime networks.