[governance] ACTA in UK: 10 years in jail for 'illegal downloads

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Sun Mar 4 03:34:20 EST 2012

    ACTA in UK: 10 years in jail for 'illegal downloads'

Get short URL <https://rt.com/news/acta-uk-illegal-downloading-jail-753/>
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Published: 03 March, 2012, 14:24

SOCA parked page on former RnBxclusive.com file-share service

SOCA parked page on former RnBxclusive.com file-share service

*TRENDS:* SOPA <https://rt.com/trends/stop-online-piracy-act/>

*TAGS:* Crime <https://rt.com/tags/crime/>, Scandal 
<https://rt.com/tags/scandal/>, UK <https://rt.com/tags/uk/>, Protest 
<https://rt.com/tags/protest/>, Human rights 
<https://rt.com/tags/human-rights/>, Law <https://rt.com/tags/law/>, 
Piracy <https://rt.com/tags/piracy/>, Internet 
<https://rt.com/tags/internet/>, Marina Dzhashi 
<https://rt.com/tags/marina-dzhashi/>, Laura Smith 

UK web surfers have caught a grim glimpse of the future with Internet 
users being threatened with 10 years in jail for "illegal downloading" 
after a prominent music file-sharing site was shut down shortly after 
Britain signed the notorious ACTA bill.

It is the first time such a move has been made against Internet users in 
the UK. The British government introduced regulations in 2009 enabling 
Internet providers to track users who downloaded illegal content from 
the web and disable their connection if warning letters had no effect. 
But signing the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has brought 
the conflict to a whole new level.

In Europe, people are taking to the streets in protest at the 
contradictory Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, with some countries 
refusing to sign it.

After hackers from the activist group Anonymous attacked practically all 
US government websites in retaliation, the authorities are now 
considering adopting their own home-grown anti-counterfeiting laws like 
PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) / SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act).

In February, Britain's organized crime police shut down RnBxclusive.com, 
a prominent music file-sharing website with about 250,000 subscribers on 
Facebook alone and up to 70,000 visitors per day.

In fact, the British police effectively took on the role of personal 
enforcer to the recording industry, standing guard to protect corporate 
profits. However sad it might be for many, this is a part of a legal 
game between copyright owners and the police on the one hand, and 
defenders of the free Internet on the other.

Normally, the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) tackles crimes "that 
affect the UK and its citizens." Now, it seems that downloading content 
from a file-sharing website has been put on a par with "Class A drugs, 
people smuggling and human trafficking, major gun crime, fraud and money 

The practices of SOCA, while enforcing its crackdown on "illegal 
downloading," raises even more questions.

      ­10 years behind bars for 'stealing' £60?

SOCA is threatening anyone who has downloaded content from 
RnBxclusive.com or even visited the website with investigation, 
prosecution, and even jail sentences.

Once the police unit gained control of the RnBxclusive web site, it 
posted a parked page carrying the following warning.

SOCA?s warning
SOCA's warning

­/"A 10-year prison sentence you'd expect to be handed down for very 
serious offenses, sexual assaults and rape, manslaughter,"/ Andrew 
Pierson from the Howard League for Penal Reform told RT. /"You would not 
normally expect it to be handed down for downloading music illegally." /

The SOCA confirmed it had arrested the owner of the site, but refused to 
tell RT why it is threatening users with a decade behind bars. Instead, 
they sent this statement:

/"SOCA targets organized criminal enterprises profiting from the 
exploitation of the UK public and legitimate businesses. Much of the 
music offered for download by the RnBxclusive.com website was illegally 
obtained from artists, leading the industry to attribute losses of 
approximately £15 million per year to the site's activity."/

A simple calculation shows that dividing £15 million even by 250,000 
known users of RnBxclusive.com gives not more than £60 worth of "stolen" 
content per person.

Does that mean that the British judicial system believes 10 years in 
prison correlate with the "theft" of just £60?


      ­Unprecedented intimidation

­The message sent by SOCA has given those concerned with Internet 
freedom an unpleasant taste of what a more regulated future might hold, 
if the ACTA treaty to protect online copyright infringement and piracy 
goes ahead.

/"It (SOCA) claimed that your IP address was being monitored, so you 
could be monitored and tracked. Again, this was a move which seems quite 
unprecedented in the UK," /Loz Kaye from the Pirate Party told RT. /"I'm 
really afraid that we're going to see this kind of abuse on an 
industrial scale if ACTA comes to pass,"/ he said.

After a shocked response from Internet campaigners, SOCA has taken down 
the harsh message, and replaced it with a simpler one, which just says 
they have taken control of the domain.

But it has already caused much worry and distress, with many Twitter 
users apparently unaware that they were visiting a dodgy site, and 
certainly never dreaming they might be liable to do time for it.

Internet campaigners say the notice was meant to frighten -- and in 
reality, severe penalties could not be applied to casual downloaders. 
They also argue there is nothing to link RnBxclusive with criminal 
gangs. So why is SOCA even involved?

What began with threats of cutting users' Internet connections has grown 
today into intimidation, with people being threatened, in all 
seriousness, with a decade behind bars.

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