16 February 2012

The Farcical SOCA Take Down of Rnbxclusive - Part 1

When I first saw the holding page that SOCA put on the seized rnbxclusive website, I was convinced it had to be a hoax.  Notices used in extra-judicial take downs in the US had a similar tone of bravado, but this one was so badly written and amateurish, it seemed inconceivable that it was genuine.  Almost every line was ridiculous:
SOCA has taken control of this domain name.
It was quickly established that this was untrue.  The DNS record had not been changed.  A page had merely been posted at the pre-existing host.
The individuals behind this website have been arrested for fraud.
This just doesn't sound like something that would be written by a competent law enforcement agency.  "Arrest on suspicion of fraud," yes, but not "arrested for fraud."
The majority of music files that were available from this site were stolen from the artists.
At first, I thought this was the standard "copyright infringement is theft" propaganda.  However, the subsequent accusation made was that the files were pre-release items which were taken from the producer, so it might not be quite so inaccurate a use of the word.  What is less understandable is that it presents an accusation as fact in a way that potentially could be in contempt of court.

Then we have the claim that:
If you have downloaded music using this website you may have committed a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine under UK law.
I'm not aware of any law which would allow for that kind of penalty for downloading music, but I can't be sure.  However, if it were a genuine claim, I'd expect to see some legislation reference.

Then we have we IP address box with some imprecise browser and OS sniffing, followed by:
The above information can be used to identify you and your location.
Which of course, it can't.  At best, the IP address could be used by the ISP to work out which account holder it was assigned to, but it wouldn't be sufficient to identify the individual browser.  Then it starts getting really ridiculous:
SOCA has the capability to monitor and investigate you, and can inform your internet service provider of these infringements.
Given that the site has been replaced by the SOCA page, it's nonsensical to threaten action in response to infringements spotted through monitoring, when the alleged means of infringement has been removed.  Then, having threatened 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine, it is laughable to have as the final killer blow a threat to inform the viewer's ISP.  It's on a par with saying "we'll tell your mum."  It's also a bit odd that, for a crime which supposedly carries a heavy custodial and financial penalty, investigators would inform ISPs, instead of carrying out arrests.
You may be liable for prosecution and the fact that you have received this message does not preclude you from prosecution.
I can't even fathom that.  I'm not sure who would think that the act of telling somebody they are liable for something would result in them not being liable.
As a result of illegal downloads young, emerging artists may have had their careers damaged.
Probably least ridiculous sentence.  It is true that they may have had their careers damaged, but they may have also had their careers boosted due to the increased exposure.  Without supporting evidence, there's no way of knowing, so it's just baseless speculation.
If you have illegally downloaded music you will have damaged the future of the music industry.
This is an unsupported assertion presented as fact.  It is also odd strategically.  I could understand "...damaged the future of artists" as an emotional appeal, but "...damaged the future of the music industry," implying the currently reviled middlemen, would be more likely to act as encouragement in many quarters.
Visit pro-music.org for a list of legal music site on the web.
Having a law enforcement agency promoting a private industry lobbying group is, unfortunately, not something which I would find surprising.  What would surprise me is the site not even being hyperlinked on a page supposedly drafted an agency investigating cybercrime.

I just didn't think it was conceivable that it was anything other than a poor attempt at a hoax.  Unfortunately, I was wrong...


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