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United Kingdom The Internet

UK Police Launch Campaign To Shut Down Torrent Sites 244

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sure-they-know-it-when-they-see-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "City of London Police inform TorrentFreak that they have begun targeting sites that provide access to unauthorized content for 'criminal gain.' The initiative is part of a collaboration with Hollywood studios represented by FACT and the major recording labels of the BPI. In letters being sent out now, police accuse site operators of committing offenses under the Serious Crime Act. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau further warns that the crimes carry a jail sentence of 10 years."
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UK Police Launch Campaign To Shut Down Torrent Sites

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  • by fekmist (2857907) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:15AM (#43911307)
    Seriously, this will in no way keep people who pirate from pirating some more. If anything it just wastes tax money and time. What could they possibly try to be achieving by doing this?
    • by Zeio (325157)

      I have 2 billion people in mind who done give a hoot about copyright: All of india, and all of china. So thats 2 billion holes to plug. Its hilarious too, with the great red firewall, that piles of copyrighted software and content pours out of there.

      Get real, RIAA, MPAA and whatever other rackets exist to try and create and use police state to shake down small timers.

  • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:16AM (#43911315)

    what exactly is a serious crime?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:19AM (#43911331)

      Things which need media attention.

    • The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is the British record industry's trade association and they would suggest it is a serious crime https://www.bpi.co.uk/assets/files/BPI_Digital_Music_Nation_2013.PDF [bpi.co.uk] but you have to do a bit of searching to find the word bit torrent.
    • what exactly is a serious crime?

      Whatever the governments says it is. They're the ones with the guns, remember?

      • by kthreadd (1558445)

        Specially it's the parliament, which is elected by the people.

        • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:27AM (#43911661)

          Specially it's the parliament, which is elected by the people.

          I wonder what percentage of the British population believes that Parliament is representing their interests well and voting with those concerns in mind? Here in the United States, only 11% of the population approves of the job that Congress is doing. That's a lot of unhappy people. What is the approval rating of Parliament? I'd be surprised if it's much higher.

          • Re:define "serious" (Score:5, Informative)

            by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @04:55AM (#43912439) Homepage

            Such data is gathered by the YouGov surveys, which happen very regularly. Here's the latest report [cloudfront.net]. Unsurprisingly given the sort of policies associated with the coalition government, the approval rating of Parliament splits strongly down party lines. Overall the government is unpopular with a 25% approval rating, 61% disapproval and 14% don't know. However this average disguises the fact that amongst conservative voters approval is 75% and amongst Labour voters approval is only 5%.

            These sorts of figures are what you might expect from the UK. The situation is not comparable to the USA where the approval rating of Congress reflects a more deep rooted feeling that corruption is rampant and all the parties are fundamentally the same. This can be seen in the fact that disapproval of Congress is almost identical regardless of voting intention [gallup.com]. The problems in the UK reflect a strong north/south division every bit as strong as the city/rural division in the USA, where the richer and more conservative south tends to approval of austerity due to a less systematic dependence on welfare and public sector jobs. The post-industrial north is dominated by Labour voters who never made the transition to the service/knowledge economy and where quality of life is highly dependent on government spending.

            I don't have time to find more precise stats, but I suspect if you examined UK voters beliefs more closely, people would not feel that democracy itself was particularly broken. Especially not over something as trivial as piracy - only in places like Slashdot and amongst the people who read it does piracy become some kind of moral imperative. Everyone else I know treats it as a naughty pleasure. They know they're breaking the law and won't get caught, but they don't have any desire to make a big moral campaign of it.

        • Actually, only part of Parliament is elected by the people. The House of Commons is elected by the people, but the House of Lords is appointed.
    • by c0lo (1497653) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:19AM (#43911635)

      what exactly is a serious crime?

      A never-kidding never-laughing one?

    • by cffrost (885375)

      [W]hat exactly is a serious crime?

      A crime* which takes place over the Internet; the "Serious Crime Act" is the UK equivalent of what we Yanks might call a "Cyber Crime Bill," but the Brits, in naming this law, have acknowledged that the Internet is serious fucking business.

      * Sometimes even a non-crime can become a "serious crime" by virtue of it having occurred over the Internet; for example: Borrowing somebody's CD AFK? Not a crime. Borrowing bits from somebody's CD over the Internet? "Serious crime."

      • Except in your examples, the second one isn't at all "borrowing". That's you trying to equate it to something it isn't so you can downplay it, in the same manner as those that call it stealing in order to up play it.

    • by Wowsers (1151731)

      Serious crime is laundering drug cartel money through the City of London (as has been recently proved), but the City of London police don't want to police it's square mile. Money talks, and the bankers have bought all the "justice" they want.

  • wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Redmancometh (2676319) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:18AM (#43911325)

    Yeah giving them the same sentence as a rapist. That seems reasonable. This shit should be a civil matter not criminal.

  • So what now? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:22AM (#43911351) Journal

    Are magnet links a crime?
    Are they only criminal if I have advertising alongside them?

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      The links are probably no, but the act of creating and using them could be if it's done maliciously.

      • by cffrost (885375)

        The links are probably no, but the act of creating and using them could be if it's done maliciously.

        Creating and distributing a shareware torrent with no crack or serial, for example.

    • Re:So what now? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @03:31AM (#43912153) Homepage

      Copyright infringement is only criminal if done on a commercial scale. In other words you have to be making a significant profit from it.

      That's how the BPI tricked the police into raiding the owner of Oink's Pink Palace. They claimed he was charging for access and raking in the cash, but it was shown in court that he only accepted donations to cover the cost of running the site. The case collapsed, wasting vast sums of public money and police time but at least the BPI got some free publicity.

  • by QuantumLeaper (607189) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:31AM (#43911395) Journal
    The more Hollywood tightens their grip the more torrents sites will slip through their fingers.
  • by Camael (1048726) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:34AM (#43911409)

    I am still uncomfortable with the fact that this action is yet another example where the police, who are publicly funded and granted extensive powers in pursuit of their public duty, are essentially (mis)using their powers to protect the private property rights of a select few, i.e. copyright owners.

    Copyright owners who, incidentally, are rich enough to pursue their own civil action against alleged pirates. Then again, making the public pay is better for their bottom line.

    • A big chunk of law + law enforcement has always been about defining property rights and protecting the interests of the 'haves'.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Well, originally the task of the people that are now calling themselves "Police" was to beat the subjects of the ruling class into submission whenever they developed independent ideas. Sometimes also just for fun. Seems to me the UK police wants to get back to that good old time, at least on the Internet.

      Here is an idea: Why don't they create an UK national Internet with no connection to the rest of the world. And while they are at it, maybe a wall and some minefields around the country?

      • by Xest (935314)

        "Well, originally the task of the people that are now calling themselves "Police" was to beat the subjects of the ruling class into submission whenever they developed independent ideas. Sometimes also just for fun."

        Not true in the slightest in the UK. The British police force was developed under the idea of policing by consent, that the police can police only with the consent of the citizenship because the citizens want a force to deal with murder and so forth, but not to beat them down.

        This isn't about goi

    • Copyright owners are hardly the "select few". Millions of people own copyrights and (attempt to) make money off them. Which is, whether you like it or not, an ability the law attempts to provide.

      • by Jockle (2934767)

        Copyright owners are hardly the "select few".

        If we're talking about people who have 'important' copyrights, then they are indeed few in number. You don't think this is for the small copyright holders, do you?

    • by AxeTheMax (1163705) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @03:01AM (#43912051)
      It's the City of London police which is something most Londoners never come across. It is a small police force with jurisdiction over the tiny historic core of the metropolis of London. This historic core is now the home of the British business, capital and the financial industry. It houses very few residents (i.e. people living there) but lots of employees. It is not surprising that this force particularly identifies with matters of interest to large companies.
    • by cffrost (885375)

      I am still uncomfortable with the fact that this action is yet another example where the police, who are publicly funded and granted extensive powers in pursuit of their public duty, are essentially (mis)using their powers to protect the private property rights of a select few, i.e. copyright owners.

      Copyright owners who, incidentally, are rich enough to pursue their own civil action against alleged pirates. Then again, making the public pay is better for their bottom line.

      Although the "temporary" government-granted distribution monopolies are owned by private entities, the imaginary property itself belongs to the public. I agree with you, though, as perpetual copyright itself is more than enough of a giveaway from the public to corporate coffers. I wanted to clarify the distinction though, as I get the feeling that some people may be losing sight of the fact that imaginary property is a part of the commons — likely, I believe, in part due to the multi-generational span

  • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:50AM (#43911503)

    police accuse site operators of committing offenses under the Serious Crime Act

    When sharing information about shifting bits of data across a computer network is considered a serious crime, the corruption in the system is not only obvious but blatantly so.

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      The crime is not about shifting bits, it's about illegally copying works of others.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        It's about pointing to other people who have shifted or are willing to shift bits. So yes, it's all about people shifting bits.
  • by Mistakill (965922) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:55AM (#43911521)
    From the article:

    Even though neither site is located in the UK, police believe that sites’ operators are committing crimes there.

    Wonder how the UK police would feel if China, Iran, or North Korea accused them of commiting crimes against them... even though theyre in the UK

  • by hedgemage (934558) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:05AM (#43911573)
    Once you understand that this is being done by the City of London then it should be clear that this is not the actions of a municipal authority based on a desire to protect citizens, but rather a government of a tiny yet separate legal entity within what we usually call London. This tiny legal appendix (the City of London) is home to only about 10,000 people, but is actually a state within a state owned and operated by large multinational corporations and so its governance reflects what is good for business. Not good for the public, not good for England or Britain, but good for keeping money rolling in.
    watch this and you'll understand why this is nothing more than monied interests trying to protect their own. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrObZ_HZZUc [youtube.com]
    • Corrected that for you. My brother is a DA working a lot with international financial crime. Ask the Letvian Police to block a bank-account and it is done within half an hour. Ask the brits and after 2 weeks you get an email back asking if your country support human rights. (And my brother works in Brussels!!!) The city is a no-go area for the police. These bankers can kill each other with machine guns and nobody will ask questions.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The 'City of London' police, is actually a special private police force responsible for the 'City' part of London which is the small financial district. It works for the City of London corporation, the private company that controls that part of London (for historical reasons a private company controls that part of London). It can be hired, quite literally you pay them money and they'll enforce the 'law':

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_London_Police
    http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/crime-and-commu

  • 10 Years? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex&project-retrograde,com> on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:19AM (#43911631) Homepage
    A sentence of 10 Years? What are they trying to do? Get folks to take up the less illegal crime of muggings?
  • by Loki_666 (824073) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @02:01AM (#43911809)

    Seems about right as the police forces in the UK are slowly being privatized. I understand some already are and have been for a while.

    When they are privatized then they need to focus on their shareholders interests first.... wonder how much stake groups like the BPI and others will have in such forces?

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @03:36AM (#43912167) Journal

      Yes---the police have been going under privatisation, and this is not a good thing.

      However, the City of London police, and the Corporation of London (aand its polive force) are not good places to look as indicitave of the whole. The Corporation is a very odd beast: for a start, it's older than a unified England and it's charter has been lost (but that's OK, since it was given another charter in 1067).

      It's always been semi-private and not really part of the government.

  • “XXXXX is a BitTorrent website that – without the permission of the copyright holder – actively provides UK internet users with a bespoke directory and search engine for torrent files. This enables users to find and download copyright content which would otherwise be time consuming or impossible to locate,” the letter notes.

    Google? - Search for the name of the show/movie and you'll find the name of the related torrent within the top 10 results. Then search for that specifically and you'll find the direct links to both bitlocker downloads and torrents. Not time consuming. Not impossible. Not at all. Extremely easy actually.

  • Rather than take legal action against the competition aren't you supposed to provide a better service and let the market decide? While you can't compete with free on price you can certainly provide a better, more user friendly service. It often feels like film companies are scared to let people see their films. That it's preferable to have them sit on a shelf unwatched than risk someone seeing them without having paid enough for the privilege. Netflix and lovefilm (in the UK) only seem to have films which h
  • by ruir (2709173) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @04:40AM (#43912387)
    Someone could explain to me like I was a 5 year old, why our taxes are used to finance the media market, and police is working for them instead of catching criminals?
  • I thought the police's job was to investigate crime, arrest suspects, and recover evidence leading to convictions. Why are we paying for them to threaten innocent people?
  • There is no need for them. "Sites" could be hosted in the p2p cloud, accessible from a magnet link or some alias for a bundled up web 2.0 app which is downloaded and hosted behind a http web server built into the torrent software. e.g. to load TorrentFreak (for example), perhaps you would click a magnet for the TorrentFreak site in your torrent client, wait for it to download, and then point your browser at localhost:1234/torrentfreak where it would just appear to you.

    Searching would be the trickiest part

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