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Piracy Music United Kingdom

UK Police Busts Karaoke 'Gang' For Sharing Songs You Can't Buy (arstechnica.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: The London Police have an Intellectual Property Crime Unit. They just issued a press release bragging about "dismantling" a "gang" running "commercial-scale copyright infringement." But if you look into the case, it turns out to just be three old guys who stream karaoke tracks that mostly aren't available from karaoke manufacturers. "This means that far from losing 'a significant amount of money,' music companies were actually deprived of little or nothing, since there were no legal copies that people could pay for." This "gang" didn't even sell any of the tracks they streamed — it seems to just be a hobby for some karaoke enthusiasts. "So why is Hodge calling what seems to be an extremely low-level operation 'commercial-scale?' It's probably because 'commercial scale' is a key legal concept that the recording industry has been trying to redefine to include activities that don't involve financial gain."
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UK Police Busts Karaoke 'Gang' For Sharing Songs You Can't Buy

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  • it turns out to just be three old guys

    The oldest is 60. And what difference should their age make anyway?

    • They should have used email.

      • Or Copyright should be eliminated as the current system is too broken to be allowed to continue

        • by doccus ( 2020662 )

          Or Copyright should be eliminated as the current system is too broken to be allowed to continue

          What? The absolute frikkin maroons busting up karaoke "gangs" aren't broken? Or maybe it's the sick UK police state mentality that criminalizes everything isn't broken? It's the whole ball of wax is rotted to the core...

          • Not just the UK, AmeriKa is infected with "Screw the citizens, protect only the rich!" government-infiltration as well

      • by doccus ( 2020662 )

        Why not B.B.S. or "hotfile" ? That is.. if they're really "old" ;-)

    • by flopsquad ( 3518045 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @10:25AM (#51153681)

      The oldest is 60. And what difference should their age make anyway?

      The implication when your press release uses the term "gang" is young males with violent tendencies involved in criminal enterprise.

      Revealing that this "gang" is in fact three karaoke-enthusiast grandfathers who derive no financial benefit from their activities is, I think, a reasonable rebuttal.

      • A gang in today's parlance, is a group of people working together for criminal purposes, age and gender are irrelevant.

        As I understand it, whether they actually derive financial benefit from what they do, is also irrelevant; they are breaking the law when they share things they don't own the IP rights for. Not that I necessarily agree that it should be illegal, but that is political matter, not a legal one. The reasoning behind why what they did was illegal runs like this: On one hand, these gentlefolks did

        • Many countries, including the US, make a differentiation between copyright infringement as a civil offense and copyright infringement as a criminal offense. In the US, commercial use is considered worse than personal use (as long as you don't torrent it - for reasons I disagree with torrents are considered commercial distribution). If you make money off it, you're commercial. It doesn't matter how much fun, spiritual enlightenment, or hair regrowth you get from copyright violation, because that's person

        • A gang in today's parlance,

          People today don't use the word 'parlance', so I assume you are old and therefore your opinion of "today" is irrelevant....

          • People today don't use the word 'parlance', so I assume you are old and therefore your opinion of "today" is irrelevant....

            Well, I know of at least one person who does. It may not be totally Street English, but it is not uncommon. Apart from that, it is a rather braindead thing to say that my views are irrelevant because I use a word you wouldn't use, don't you agree? Also, you failed to criticise me for not putting a comma after "A gang"; surely that would have put me outside the human race?

            • Apart from that, it is a rather braindead thing to say that my views are irrelevant because I use a word you wouldn't use, don't you agree?

              If you're claiming to speak for what words mean in today's world, then use old fashioned words which people don't use anymore, then yes your opinion of today's words is irrelevant (to me at least).

        • I think the point is, the seriousness of the supposed offence is greatly skewed in people's minds by the terminology used. Gang of pirates?!?! OMG. A few geriatrics who enjoy karaoke? YAWN.

    • Someone must think that older middle age folks and young seniors are incapable of comprehending intellectual law and using technology.
      • Someone must think that older middle age folks and young seniors are incapable of comprehending intellectual law and using technology.

        No, they must think that older middle-age folks and young seniors violating IP laws for no commercial gain and with no violent crime indicated should not be called a "gang." Gang means street thugs (or organized crime with a network of street thugs) when you are talking about criminals.

    • The cost to lockup old people is a lot more.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Less storage time of the perp in the isocube citizen.
    • by doccus ( 2020662 )

      Guy writing original article probably a twenty something geek. I'd bet on it. So in all probability anyone over 40 qualifies as "old" .

    • Remember this is the British police we're talking about here, logic and humanity and common sense have nothing to do with it.
      The humans must not be allowed to rise up and question or threaten the system.

      As the bureaucracy and rules replace their humanity are the British police gradually evolving into Darleks ?
      Rules become ever more draconian as the ever present fear of terrorism grows stronger and stronger.
      Their armour will get thicker and thicker.
      Next they will be fitted with guns. (EXTERMINATE!, EXTERMINA

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @09:38AM (#51153531)

    "why is Hodge calling what seems to be an extremely low-level operation 'commercial-scale?'" Because Hodge has to justify the actions taken.

    No more than that.

    And saying "It was three guys only sharing among themselves copies that were not for sale and caused no loss whatsoever" really REALLY doesn't do it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "why is Hodge calling what seems to be an extremely low-level operation 'commercial-scale?'" Because Hodge has to justify the actions taken.

      No more than that.

      No, it's because of the way the law [legislation.gov.uk] is drafted. In order for copyright infringement to be a crime (rather than just a civil infringement), the infringement has to either be done in the course of business, or otherwise than in the course of a business but on such a scale that it adversely affects the copyright owner.

    • If the three guys where indeed only sharing amoung themselves then indeed it changes the table completely. In most of Europe, and I would bet the UK included, you can freely share copyrighted materials with your friends. In Germany that is restricted to about 13-15 (no idea why it is that vague).

    • by Dangerous_Minds ( 1869682 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @05:21PM (#51155371)
      The "Commercial scale" language is also found in the TPP [freezenet.ca]. While this language may just be a UK thing for now, if the TPP is passed, the vague language will become law all over the world. It'll be used to justify busting down the doors of just about anyone Big Content doesn't like from someone posting a YouTube video to someone leaving a comment on Facebook. This may very well be a canary in the coal mine case.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Nope, the pigopolists are trying to push through a very twisted interpretation. So, copying a book, an actual hard copy, was is a commericial number 1 no, how about just 10, hard to claim 10 hard copies of a book as not being commercial. So push that into the digital world and 10 copies is easy. Basically this is the insane psychopathic greed push coming out of the US. They want to confiscate real assets for the minorist of infringement. Your child's computer was in your house, then your house was used in

  • by flopsquad ( 3518045 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @09:44AM (#51153549)
    Just FYI, TFS saying "London Police" is misleading. This sham of a "bust" was undertaken by the City of London Police [wikipedia.org], which is 728 guys with a square mile jurisdiction, who serve as wink wink enforcement arm for Big Content.

    The 31K police that actually police London are known as the Metropolitan Police Service [wikipedia.org].
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This makes me wonder what kind of jurisdiction they have outside of their square mile (if any) Surely the Met would takeover the case if there were actual merit in said case.

    • Yes, that was my first thought when I read the article. We have read about them many times before.

      These are just those rent-a-cops paid for by the MAFIAA

    • by Trevelyan ( 535381 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @12:29PM (#51154137)
      In case the difference between London (City) and the "City of London" is not clear to some, here's a great video on the topic. [youtube.com]

      It's a city within a city, within a country that's within a country.
      It's also semi independent of the UK and its laws; an artefact of existing longer than the UK does.
    • I wonder if the voting arrangements in the City of London are legal under EU and other treaty obligations?
    • Has anybody else noticed that the City of London Police use the same font in their wordmark (Albertus) as the BBC series The Prisoner? (I'm talking about the original one starring Patrick McGoohan.) I wonder which used it first. One thinks of disturbing parallels between the City of London and The Village.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Despite Americans assuming that all famous British TV series were produced by the BBC, "The Prisoner" wasn't.

  • GPL violations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @09:45AM (#51153553) Journal

    I wonder how many the music industry has made to enforce their will?

    • More interestingly, how do they do it? Where is the guy who upon hearing their frivolous claims says we don't have the resources to chase the rats and mice?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wait until they figure out that Youtube is actually making real money off people's copyright infringing uploads. Sure, Youtube takes them down when told, or when their internal scanners tell them there's copyright infringement (they even scan private videos watched by nobody) - which takes a few months according to my single experience, but while they're up they're winning. But they can't take on Youtube for not having a strong gatekeeper team because that would just be unpopular.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @10:05AM (#51153605)

    music companies were actually deprived of little or nothing, since there were no legal copies that people could pay for.

    Uh, WHAT? Those are the worst. Proper "pirates" at least have the decency to side advertise commercially available materials. But those guys hooked people on materials not for sale. They deprived music companies of people listening to commercially available tracks. The time those people were listening to these karaoke tracks could have been spent listening to commercially avaliable trash. And all the time the listeners try finding and acquiring copies of music no longer available could have been spent buying commercially available stuff.

    They are filthy parasites on the total music mindshare, almost as bad as buskers playing their own compositions. Record companies invest billions of dollars in order to kill the interest in old artists and get people to buy new recordings to keep the dime rolling. Preserving interest in old recordings is like digging up the bones of one's parents and making love to them instead of the person herself.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. The recording companies have long viewed the mere existence of free or non-commercial music as a threat to their business. Their business model is the wish that everyone pay something everytime they hear a song. If there music exists that is free, that means people who could be spending time paying for music could, the horror, instead be spending time listing to free music.
      Back is the cassette tape era, the US has a tax on blank cassettes that was paid to ASCAP and BM...or is that BMR. The argument was

  • by Goglu ( 774689 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @10:13AM (#51153637)
    This shows again how copyright laws are a nuisance to the spreading of culture. (Although I could hear the argument of those who claim that karaoke soundtracks are not the richest cultural expression.)

    When I emigrated, I wanted to bring some DVDs from home (Europe) to my new land (America), but then I couldn't play them on local equipment because of region-DRM, once again meant to protect "copyrights" for products THAT WERE NOT AVAILABLE anyways in America!

    These laws must be rebalanced in order to allow dissemination of culture across country borders. Diversity enriches the whole community, whereas those laws are made to enrich just a few.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      One word "libdvdcss".

      But I do agree with you the region-locking crap needs to go. If enforcing your copyright means we must deny ourselves access to the content, because you refuse to sell it to us, then that copyright should be declared VOID.

      Especially in the US given copyright's purpose is to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts." If we cannot use it, then it cannot help the progress of science and the useful arts in our country. That's a prohibition on culture, which given the current sta

    • These laws must be rebalanced in order to allow dissemination of culture across country borders. Diversity enriches the whole community, whereas those laws are made to enrich just a few.

      You have McDonald's and Wendy's what more do you want?

  • The funny part of this is that karaoke recordings are made of music other people wrote and made famous. In fact, I don't see how people who make karaoke recordings have any intellectual property in the game at all.

    • The funny part of this is that karaoke recordings are made of music other people wrote and made famous. In fact, I don't see how people who make karaoke recordings have any intellectual property in the game at all.

      If you visit TFA you can see that they were distributing Karaoke tracks. This involves use of someone else's music. Legitimate karaoke discs, if you can call them that, are made by people who have licensed the work (maybe a cover, whatever) for that purpose. Both they and the people collecting the licensing fees have an interest here. Someone obviously owns the IP involved. The typical argument is that these unauthorized tracks reduce the value of future authorized releases, which may or may not be bullshit

      • Re:Karaoke (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @11:41AM (#51153935) Journal

        Yes, but you realize karaoke tracks are recorded to sound as much as possible like a recording someone else made famous, and the person who made it famous doesn't get a penny in royalties or license fees from a karaoke track. For example, I see that one of the karaoke tracks is of George Michael singing "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" People who would buy that karaoke track want to sound like George Michael singing the song, so they record the track to sound just like the accompaniment that's on George Michael's record.

        The problem is, George Michael doesn't receive a penny. The company that made the George Michael recording doesn't receive a penny. And, the song was written in 1930 by lyricist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg and composer Jay Gorney who are both long dead. In summary, nobody who was involved at any level in creating the intellectual property for a song that's 75 years old or the intellectual property of the 1999 recording by George Michael see a red cent.

        Ignoring intellectual property laws that are this broken is absolutely reasonable. In fact, I would say that ignoring the intellectual property laws is an act of political courage until they decide to fix them.

        • Re:Karaoke (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday December 20, 2015 @11:50AM (#51153977) Homepage Journal

          Yes, but you realize karaoke tracks are recorded to sound as much as possible like a recording someone else made famous, and the person who made it famous doesn't get a penny in royalties or license fees from a karaoke track.

          Unless they also wrote the song.

          The problem is, George Michael doesn't receive a penny. The company that made the George Michael recording doesn't receive a penny. And, the song was written in 1930 by lyricist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg and composer Jay Gorney who are both long dead.

          I am failing to see how it's a problem that George Michael doesn't receive a penny. He traded on someone else's effort. Sometimes, he will get money for it, sometimes not. He will get money when his performance is used, but not when the lyrics are used. This is how it should work.

          Ignoring intellectual property laws that are this broken is absolutely reasonable.

          The only way it's broken is that someone is getting paid for it, not that George Michael isn't. But it shouldn't come as a surprise; someone clearly holds the copyright.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @11:40AM (#51153923)

    I know I feel much safer with these dangerous criminals off the streets. Whew, now I can sleep at night without fear of, uh, ummm, something.

    Thank you, Intellectual Property Crime Unit of London, for fighting the Good Fight and keeping karaoke-related crimes from spiraling out of control and destroying our youth and the very fabric of society!

    (And, of course, as if singing karaoke wasn't a crime in and of itself.)

  • Leave it behind (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Stop consuming media and go buy a damn guitar.

  • Everyone seems to be missing the point. Were the songs any good? If so, I hope someone sets up a torrent... Revenge is a dish best served... free.

  • Will they go after DDR games, pinballs, guitar hero arcade games in bar's / pubs that don't have a jukebox license?

  • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @12:36PM (#51154175)
    The City of London police are a private police force for the square mile. They're constantly looking for pies they can stick their fingers into.
  • The posters, and probably the /. crowd, too, should finally grasp: copy right infringement is copy right infringement, regardless if the infringer has commercial goals with his deeds.

    However it is a shame in this case that some owner is upset that his IP is distributed while he himself has obviously no interest in distributing it, for a commercial gain, himself.

    • And copyright infringement (if that has even happened here) is a civil, not criminal offence. But we can't have that, so we'll tack on some other bullshit claiming a commercial interest (though there is none) to make it criminal. Then use a "police" force whose authority, not that I recognise it, doesn't extend outside a commercial geographic area to enforce it.

      That's three strikes against, which is three more than is necessary to deride this action.

      • And copyright infringement (if that has even happened here) is a civil, not criminal offence.
        Very true, but it changed a bit with those DMCA adaptions we have now in Europe, some cases are criminal ... never digged into it how it actually works now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Society enabled the musician to create the music, not the record companies. It therefor belongs to society, and we should be paying ourselves and supporting our musicians, not suing everyone who listens to music.

  • Thsi day we celebrate a big victory over the organized crime and the terrorists.

    You know, since in a time when risks of human trafficking and organized prostitution of minors, and islamist terrorism in the UK seem not too far fetched, the absolutely best use of police units is to look for the terrorists of the karaoke-mafia.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You know, since in a time when risks of human trafficking and organized prostitution of minors, and islamist terrorism in the UK seem not too far fetched, the absolutely best use of police units is to look for the terrorists of the karaoke-mafia.

      Karaoke is a gateway crime. How do you think most of the inmates of Sing Sing started?

  • Remember this is the British police we're talking about here, logic and humanity and common sense have nothing to do with it.
    1 2 3 The humans must not be allowed to rise up and question or threaten the system.

    As the bureaucracy and rules replace their humanity are the British police gradually evolving into Darleks ?
    Rules become ever more draconian as the ever present fear of terrorism grows stronger and stronger.
    Their armour will get thicker and thicker.
    Next they will be fitted with guns. (EXTERMINATE!, EX

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