70Piracy is wrong, piracy is theft.  That’s that we are told.  I personally refuse to watch the trash from Hollywood or your mainstream music et al, mainly because I think its manufactured nonsense aimed at markets either too lazy or too slow witted to find entertainment in more engaging mediums (such as reading, listening to the radio…you heard of those?)

Now despite Piracy NOT being theft (if applied to Sec 1 of the Theft Act in the UK, which for me clearly defines what theft is), today we are looking at some claims made by the City of London police and finding out exactly what they are doing to combat the threat they claim of “piracy”.

This is not an article on if you agree with infringement of copyright or not.  I support CC and FOSS – I have no care or interest in the industries which make these multi-million pound movies, nor the movies themselves.

So for some reason the City of London Police are spearheading a copyright battle, where they are (allegedly) being proactive in the fight against copyright.  Being one of their 170 followers on twitter (rather poor eh?) you would think that they would respond more often to challenges I’ve put to them.  They don’t.  However when they wish to promote their “great results” you can be sure they will be on Twitter. – And its this that we will examine today.

I’ve covered the City of London Police before, so lets look at one of their Tweets.

File-sharing site Torrentz.eu taken offline by City of London police

I can keep this short.  They’ve not taken this site offline.  They’ve got ISP’s to block it.  Completely pointless too because there are a large number of proxies available for people to still access it.  So here we see the first discrepancy in their claims.

A statement from following the closure of several copyright infringing websites now be found on our website

And due to timing I expect one of these claims is in relation to a sports streaming site.  By the time Torrent Freak had written an article on the subject, there was already a domain shift and the site was back up and running.  Now in this case it seems the domain name has indeed been seized by City of London Police, but the site? Its reported to be running fine.

Another tool in the City of London’s box is to go down the route of advertising.  They seem to think that an advertiser who’s product unwittingly appears on a torrent site is bad for the brand.  Of course there’s no proof of this, just like if I claim Cliff Richard lives on Pluto plotting to take over planet Earth.  The advertising tactic shows that all the other outfits who make money from others IP (without creating anything themselves) are desperate to make advertisers remove their adverts and ergo the site will disappear on it’s own.

So the first question I’d ask of City of London (and then secondly of FACT) is do they even know how advertising works?  If Cillit Bang or whatever its called appeared on TPB would it harm the image? No infact quite the reverse.  Advertising on TV is sold on the basis of how popular a show is and how many people are likely to be tuned in and exposed to the advert.    But lets say they are right.  Since FACT and the City of London seem so concerned for brands image, are they now also going to trawl every free blog with Adsense or similar to make sure that products are not appearing on unsuitable blogs? – After-all they don’t want brands being cheapened by association, do they?  Of course they won’t – the “harming brands” tactic in my view is a weak reason.  It’s also based on a logic where “pirate” sites are only kept alive by ad revenue.  After reading many articles by people who have run these sites, they actually rely on donations from the users and get very little (if anything) from whatever advert appears in the side bar.  In the testimonies I’ve read, the sites don’t make a profit either, with the funds raised being eaten up almost immediately in hosting costs et al.  FACT and the City of London Police need to think up another reason.

City of London Police – Why won’t you name the sites you claim to have closed down? – I believe I know the answer and its because they are not closed at all and just some word play by people who either don’t understand the concepts they are talking about or are intentionally looking to mislead.  – Is there any other reason? Are my opinions incorrect? Please by all means give your reasons.

So how to fix things?

Since the majority of the article has been based on actions of others, here’s what I think needs to be done.  Firstly copyright law needs reform.  It’s not fit for purpose.   The majority of it was written when we lived in a very different world to the one today.  The numerous facets of copyright law and the changes needed would take an article of their own and if anyone from the organizations I’ve mentioned ever engages in conversation, I’d be happy to elaborate.

Secondly there needs to be a decision made as to if copyright infringement is criminal or civil.  If its civil, then law enforcement should distance themselves completely from it and if its criminal then private organizations should stay away and let the Police deal with it.  You cannot have a mix of the two, I put it to you that its a conflict of interest.

There is a line where law enforcement agencies and private business should be separated.  This lines seem to be greying as of late and when you have a situation where law enforcement and industry are in bed together (figuratively) then its a worrying game to play.  There are so many questions that the tax-payer needs to ask of this relationship, but as I’ve found you don’t tend to get a straight answer (as I highlighted in a previous article).

 The men and women of our front line public services (in particular the police force) do a very good job in my view.  When outfits like City of London IP Unit start getting involved with private industry (and an industry which has alot of money to throw about) it makes a mockery of those front-line staff who work very hard dealing with issues I suggest are far more in the public interest.  If industry want to tackle piracy, fine, let them tackle it, lets not have some cosy relationship between the two.

And my question to the City of London would be this.  If piracy is theft and piracy is a crime, why are they not arresting every single UK citizen in a BT Swarm?  The jobs made easy for them too since the IP’s will more than likely be their own.  Why, if piracy is so important to this unit of the City of London, is the average user not being prosecuted for this? Why are we not seeing hundreds of such prosecutions? I’ve had many different answers given for this.  I’d love to hear theirs.

Lets confirm here – If Paul our 18 year old imaginary pirate is sat in his bedroom downloading Harry Potter in BT Swarm, is he committing a CRIMINAL offence?, YES or NO.  – If yes, then please answer my other question above.

Somehow, like the other 170 or so followers on their Twitter account, I’ll only see them post when they want to make another “success” claim, with, in my opinion, dubious wording.