Thursday, February 16, 2012

SOCA seem to think they're an education body

Yesterday, you'll recall, the Serious Organised Crime Agency closed down a website and slapped up a dire warning:

A takedown notice warned visitors who have used the site to download music they could face up to 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Soca said music posted on the site was "stolen from the artists" and may have "damaged careers".

A man has been arrested for fraud and bailed pending further enquiries, police told the BBC.

"Soca targets organised criminal enterprises profiting from the exploitation of the UK public and legitimate businesses," the agency said in a statement.

"Much of the music offered for download by the website was illegally obtained from artists, leading the industry to attribute losses of approximately £15m per year to the site's activity."
Is it really the job of the police to accept at face value what are clearly made-up sums of loss of money?

Today, The Inquirer spoke to SOCA asking them about the threats of ten inside:
When asked to explain the somewhat dramatic threat of 10 years in prison for those who visited the web site, the spokesman said, "If you download music that has been illegally obtained, you can be accused of fraud, if you are deemed to be part of the conspiracy to defraud."

We put it to him that most users would have unknowingly downloaded the allegedly illegal content anyway, and he admitted that the web site splash page was aimed at "warning people about how they use the internet."
Warning people about how they use the internet? This, supposedly, is the part of the police which deals with the most serious threats to life, limb and liberty; all of a sudden, they're worrying about a few dodgy R&B tracks and offering educational tips to people about "how they use the internet". Seems, at best, a questionable use of our money.


Frankosonic said...

This is all a bit nuts though isn’t it? SOCA by name, are supposed to investigate serious large scale fraud, yet the site wasn’t selling mp3’s. It was sharing chart music and therefore had relatively high traffic and presumably sold a fair sum of advertising, but I’d be amazed if they got seriously rich from it.

So either there is more to it than we realised (maybe it was a front for money laundering or something) OR more likely it’s just scare tactics. Let’s not forget that the guys who ran OiNK got fines and community service for copyright infringement but were found NOT GUILTY of conspiracy to defraud. So telling kids who go to the site that they could go down for 10 years if they ever downloaded anything from it is irresponsible at best and at worst, a complete lie.

Also annoying me is the phrase “music was stolen from the artists”. I know you’ve taken that one to pieces many times before, so well done for resisting the urge this time. Unless they did they actually break into Dappy’s house and nick his ipod? It’s getting tired though to hear people repeat that nonsense. It’s usually the record companies that say it, but now it’s the police..or you don’t the record companies didn’t provide SOCA with the takedown page?

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

It might be there was more to the investigation than just the site - you'd really have to hope so. Which would make the breaking off to put the 'don't steal music' message on the site even more bizarre.

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