back to article BitTorrent crackdown cops fail to pay music copyright fees

Cleveland Police, the force that will today bring six people to court for alleged involvement in the OiNK BitTorrent network, does not pay licensing fees to legally play music in its canteens, it has emerged. Rumours that Cleveland Police was infringing copyright law have been circulating for several months. Yesterday the …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. dave lawless

    The stereo does have an off switch, copper!

    "We continue to assess the position and are seeking advice to determine if we are required by law to spend a significant amount of public money, which we consider is better committed to crime fighting, in this way."

    What a weasel. "If we can't have free music we're going to stop policing."

    How does that work!?!

    I'm going to try it when the electric bill comes : "We're a public funded charity and think it's better to spend a significant amount of our funding on our entertaining our employees than giving it to Eon?"

  2. Anonymous Coward

    And what part of this surprises anyone?

    Cops everywhere believe they are above the law. Just look at this recent example in Boston. It even has an IT angle, the corrupt cop posted on the web about his calling in sick while running a charter fishing business. And of course, his excuse about why he should not be held accountable is that he was ratted out anonymously. (So the complaint does not count, in his mind.)

  3. michael


    "it had not decided whether to pay its Performing Rights Society (PRS) subs."

    can I decide not to pay my taxes? or not to pay my elcki bill?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    so let me get this straight..

    They aren't sure if they can spend money to pay for their license? Ok, I guess I'm not sure if I can spend money to pay my taxes, does it work like that too?

    Thought not. Typical copper bollocks. One rule for the unwashed, another rule for the rulemakers huh?

  5. Martin Klefas-Stennett
    Thumb Up

    better spent elsewhere

    I wonder if the defense "I was going to pay, but I decided to spend my money on something else" works for other crimes. I hope so, I need a new camera but the wife says the mortgage is more important.

  6. Steve Browne
    Thumb Down


    Is it not time for the police to obey the law too?

    Lead by example, not by dictat or continue to lose public respect and support if they have nay left.

  7. John Imrie

    Look at this the other way.

    I wonder if what reason the police come up with not to pay their sub will be useful against the PRS by others.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The answer is simple.

    Stop playing the music/radio in the staff areas until a decission on payment has been made. That way, further infringement - if it is happening - can be avoided.

    I have no idea about the law but I suspect the police should have and to avoid public opprobrium and worse PR it might be helpful to be able to demonstrate being in compliance.

    For the general public, ignorance is no defence and it should be no less for the enforcers of the law?

  9. EvilJason
    Dead Vulture

    Do as we say not as we do right?

    When is a crime not a crime? when its done by someone in the police force heh that line from judge dread keeps popping into my head every time i hear something like this "I have not broken the law, i am the LAW"

    So its ok for these guys to break the same law that they are trying 6 other people with? and there reply is not omg lets arrest are selfs but we are going away for a bit to think if we have to pay but we dont think we should because it would be better spend on crime fighting....hay guys you know what else would serve the public better as well? don't break any dam laws

    -Grave because the law is dead

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Police- third group to go up against the wall when the revolution comes.

    Politicians go first, followed by marketing people.

    Come on - who thought the police weren't a group of lying theiving fascist basterds?

  11. Martin

    It's not "the law" to pay the PRS, so STFU

    The vultures have decended on our workplace also. "The Law" the PRS rely on to put the frighteners on people is clearly framed with entertainment venues (pubs, clubs etc) in mind, where their business IS music; NOT the average workplace with an incidental radio. I have yet to hear of them actually winning a court case about radio fees- I have only ever heard of firms settling with them. The radio stations themselves already pay royalties to the PRS based on how many listeners they get- why do companies (or the police) have to pay the same royalties AGAIN because a radio isn't situated in a private home? It's BROADCAST, FFS.

  12. Alex Harper

    Actually, I'd side with the fuzz on this one...

    The PRS have a mandate for collecting due royalties on behalf of their members, as do the PPL. The both of them have been stomping their feet going round everyone who in their opinion is publicly performing music. I'd agree with shopping centres, etc but in my opinion radios in canteens or private offices closed to the public are none of their business. They make up their own rules on who is elligible without any legal mandate or precident to do so and in my opinion overstep their mark a little. So if they came to me demanding I need a licence then I'd take it under careful consideration instead of just coughing up to their demands, even if I had to go to court to arbitrate.

    Disclaimer: I am a rights holder and a PPL member, and even I think they go a bit far sometimes.

  13. Tom Chiverton

    Fraud ?

    "charge of conspiracy to defraud."

    Who, of what ? He told people he ran a BT tracker, and he did. Umm ?

  14. Frumious Bandersnatch

    minor embarrassment

    Yeah, it's not surprising that the cops figured the law didn't apply to them. Not much to see here. It will probably raise a smirk or two since it came up in the context of the OiNK case, but it does no good (legally speaking) for the pot to call the kettle black.

    I got more of a chuckle over that Boston Herald article. The guy is claiming that it was an anonymous tip-off so he's off the hook. It seems he doesn't know what the fifth amendment is (you can shut up lest you incriminate yourself). Otherwise he wouldn't have blabbed about his crime in a public forum. He has hoist himself by his own petard and I hope they throw the book at him for being such a twit.

  15. Law

    maybe use the british police excuse of...

    ...permission was implied by the fact they had a working radio, and could do it.... worked for the police when they looked at illegal wiretapping here by bt!

  16. Gav

    No Piped Music

    I'm with the PRS on this one.. and the Police. The PRS should force the Police to cough up, and the police should decide that in future their money is better spent elsewhere, and stop playing music in their canteens.

    The reason? Simple. Piped music in the workplace is evil and should be stamped out. And that includes all radio stations. I wouldn't mind if it was music or radio stations I liked. But they are invariably prime examples of the lowest common denominator and enough to make you take the canteen knives to your wrists. If they weren't so blunt.

  17. Kenny Swan
    Paris Hilton


    Can't the just pipe in a radio station? You shouldn't have to pay royalties for a public performance of those songs since the radio station has covered the fees for that. Or am I missing something?

  18. pbhj

    PRS want to have cake and eat it

    @Martin: spot on.

    @everyone else, say what?

    So the PRS are trying to claim that any workplace with a radio has to pay a commercial entertainment license fee and you're all OK with that? Don't any of you listen to music at work? Nope it doesn't matter if it's on your iPod, you're at work ... on the road in your own car but claiming mileage ...sounds like a place of work to me ....

    As Martin said, PRS get paid for the broadcast by the radio station. If they don't think they get enough then they need to renegotiate not start trying to shame publicly funded groups into paying for the same "performance" again.

    The Police are right to question whether the PRS racket is legal.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    "We uphold the law - except, of course, when applied to us, and when we've decided we have better things we can do with the money".

    Such hypocrisy, such a wonderful example to us all.

  20. Jamie

    Multi-level law system grows.

    Just more proof that the justice system is split up with different forms of justice depending on status/money/job.

  21. Andy Barr
    Paris Hilton

    Utter joke...

    ...where is this going to stop? Somebody bought a CD and a few people sit in a room and listen to it. Where is the crime? Why does everybody need some money for anything to happen, in this case a few peeps chilling out? Will these numptys be charging kids they see sharing head phones on the bus...or those annoying chavs that play it out loud through their speaker phones? 'Sharing! Public place! WTF! That almost sounds like 'community' - Bill them, fun costs!'

    Copright, image rights, liscensing - all words that mean 'greed', yet more and more invisible, contrived, nonsense BS...imagine if Homer had been this far up his own ass, issuing fines to anyone he heard retelling his tale, restricting culture for the sake of a few quid. Nonsense.

    Paris, 'coz she doesn't give a sh*t...and neither should we.

  22. Dave

    Radio License!

    Next thing is they'll be introducing a Radio License like they do for TV in the UK!

  23. Rick Eastwood

    Dont know if its true but.......

    I once was talking to someone or i heard it somewhere of a pub that was playing a cd or radio or whatever and was pounced upon by the PRS. He was told to pay the fine (sorry licence) because he playing music in a public area.

    So he opened the door to his private home area, put the radio on the other side of the door and turned it up. Because the music was being played in a private home and it was purely incidental that it could be heard in the pub, there was nothing the PRS idiot could do about and went away grumbling.

    God i hope its true.

  24. Mark

    re: It's not "the law" to pay the PRS, so STFU

    But it IS the law that copyright infringement is illegal.

    Such infringement being playing music in a public place without license.

    And BitTorrent users arrested would be fine too if they had paid a distribution license for the music shared over BT. Are the police going to drop the charges for that, because the BT users didn't know if the would or could pay the licensing costs?

    Yes? No?

    STFU yourself, RIAA puppet.

  25. Tommy Pock

    Get me a corrupt policeman

    So I can get him to take money from a TV company to film me going in to confiscate their speakers. Oh and 'uploading a new tracker to the site' doesn't make any sense

  26. andy


    I believe the law states that if a radio show playing copyright material is broadcast in public then the business must pay PRS -- this is why you often see a PRS label in shop windows to show they have paid.

    I can only think that the music must have been audible in the station foyer (or maybe to the prisoners?!)

  27. doctorflam
    Thumb Down

    Truly outrageous

    Oh, so in that case can the accused stand up in court and say "buying the record would require me to spend a significant amount of money, which I consider is better committed to buying food and paying for somewhere to live" and be acquitted? Somehow I think not!

    There is a hidden third option - well, I say hidden, in fact it's obvious to anyone with even a heavily malformed brain - it goes like this: "don't play copyrighted material in your canteen if you don't want to pay the license".

    This is utter hypocrisy of the highest order. How these ignorant self-righteous twunts have the audacity to come out and make a statement like that is beyond all reason - not paying PRS fees is in EXACTLY the same ballpark as not paying for an mp3 download - no physical material has changed hands but ultimately there is still a legal requirement to pay for the use of copyrighted material!

    Total idiots. This just takes the piss. I'm furious.

  28. Danny Traynor

    @ virtually everyone

    Where in the article does it say the Police were playing music from a *radio*.

    That's right, it doesn't so stfu :)

  29. Chris

    Some animals...

    ...are more equal than others

    What did you expect? Honesty? Playing by the rules? :-)

  30. Steve

    Re: "the radio station already paid"

    They paid for the right to broadcast to private listeners so you don't need to pay again if you listen to it on your radio in private.

    The radio in the canteen is a public performance in a place of business.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the UK

    In the UK there's a radio license (just like there's a black and white TV license) for people that have radios but no TV...

    The laws the law, and if a file sharer is breaching copyright law then so's a pig playing his radio in the canteen.

    An other example of one rule for the surfs and another for the filth.

  32. Gavin Jamie
    Gates Horns

    Treble dipping

    So a DJ buys a CD, and the record companies take their cut.

    The radio station plays the CD, and they take a fee again.

    And then it is played in a canteen and they feel the need for another fee. Had everyone in the canteen brought a personal radio that would be fine. It is only a problem if they all listen to the same one.

    I am sure the radio stations would be delighted to know that the PRS are going around and slashing their listener numbers.

    There is rightful payment, greed and then self defeating greed.

    Bill, for his CALs

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    bang bang

    They shot an innocent person dead, in the head eight times. And they still had the cheek to lie about it.

    What makes us believe they will ever respect the law?

    Paris, at least she did time in the slammer.

  34. Lukin Brewer

    Quiet words, and a few truncheons...

    "Action against the Lancashire Constabulary has been suspended while the parties attempt to negotiate a settlement."

    Negotiate as in...?

    "Alright, you *slags*, how about this? You drop this action, we don't come round and search under your floorboards *every* day."

  35. Garry Mills

    So that'll be...

    The Middlesbrough in Teesside then?


  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What Gav said

    I once talked my way into a pay rise in exchange for putting up with a radio station blaring out crap at work. Allow ipods, ban piped music.

  37. Richard

    Missing the point here

    Not quite the PRS, but certainly radio stations in the US & UK pay a fixed fee to play any music. Which is exactly the model that would work for the internet (and sites like OiNK) if only the music industry wasn't intent on committing suicide.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Cleveland - Britain finest.

    Doesn't surprise me in the least. I work with the rozzers there - This is the same force that spent hundreds of thousands investigating Mallon for corruption only to have him become Mayor and no action taken. At one point there were 286 complaints are being investigated against 39 Cleveland Police Officers. Guess how many ended up in prison against how many early retirements? They continually flout laws which would see the rest of us in a cell...

    Hope they do them for back pay of it as well - how many years have they had music playing there?

  39. Mark

    re: Treble dipping

    However right that is, if the police were to use it as a defense of their breech of copyright, how much more acceptable is it for the defense of the very crime they are prosecuting on the citizens?

    Jammie paid $220,000 for 24 tracks. That's enough to pay for 10,000 infringers. And they are STILL going after any infringement on P2P of these tracks, whether they have already been paid for or not.

    If treble dipping is reason to ignore copyright law, how much more relevant is 10,000-times-dipping???

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Radio Licence

    No, there isn't a radio licence, it was abolished a very long time ago.

  41. WonkoTheSane

    RE: Anonymous Coward @15:43

    There has been no requirement to purchase a radio license in the UK since Feb 1st, 1971.

    (Unless you want to open a broadcast station of course)

    Mine's the one with an MP3 player in the pocket.

  42. michael

    @Danny Traynor

    I never said it was a raido

    in fact id I rember my reading of this a little while backyou d not need a licence for raidos

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  44. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Ring tones.

    I can just see it in the get a bill in the mail because you heard some crappy 50 cent tune on someones ring tone.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    in any event

    (1) who's watching the watchers


    (2) think of the children

  46. Mark

    @Wonko the sane

    And that removal of the license did NOT mean you didn't commit copyright infringement by playing copyrighted music in a public place.

    Why did you and Mycho leave that bit off?

  47. IMVHO

    Double-standard isn't the point...

    as I see it. That copyright law extends into every possible situation is the point. Playing some romantic-like muzaq for you and the love interest whilst you engage in warm-blooded fun? No problem. Oh, it's a threesome? Well now, that's going to count as a concert. Fess-up the fees, and there's extra if there's dancing!

    Seriously... at our wedding reception we had to pay a certain amount for playing music, erm, out loud (as opposed to the quiet type of music shared between the storage device and circuits of the music playing thingamabob). We had to pay more because people intended to dance! I didn't bother asking if the tapping of toes while seated counted as dancing... there's likely a strict definition out there. Two toes? An entire foot? Seated? Horizontal or vertical?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Here's an idea: stop wasting public money on the equipment required to play copyrighted music illegally.

    How many pairs of new coppers' shoes could that PA system have paid for? About time they got some exercise. Fat lazy slobs.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    And one more thing...

    Middlesbrough. Learn to spell.

  50. Petrea Mitchell

    I wonder... the PRS license applicable only to specific playback devices? (The way the linked report is phrased, it sounds like it is.) If they were listening to streaming radio off a PC in the canteen, would they still have to pay the license, or would that be illegal downloading?

  51. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    Make up CDs of Creative Commons Licensed music - No royalties to pay, and there's a lot of it about, and some of it is absolutely brilliant.

  52. Matt

    How long before...

    ... they go after the average desk worker playing the radio through the Internet or desktop radio? Or the factory / workshop / office with 2 or 3 workers that listen to the radio, but never get public visitors.

    And does it make any difference if an office is part of a private residence, or business premesis?

    Where do we draw the line?

  53. Peter Bennett

    Great, lovely, super, smashing.

    Do as I say, not as I do.

    As my brother has commented in the past, some plods have the intellectual capacity that would make dumplings blush.

  54. Martin

    @Matt, 19:01 "How long before..."

    They already ARE going after such places; that's the point. As far as the PRS are concerned just about anywhere that's not a private home is a 'public place'; including offices, canteens etc open only to employees.

  55. This post has been deleted by its author

  56. Moss Icely Spaceport

    It's a fair cop, guvna!

    I'll just lock myself up in the olde chokey shall I?

  57. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    I'm not surprised people are confused.

    I can listen to the radio in my home before I come to work without having to pay PRS. I can listen to radio here, if I use headphones, again without having to pay PRS. If I set up my radio so the whole office can hear, I have no idea what the consequences are - apart from the ensuing rain of Tippex. If my boss set up the radio to entertain the troops, she'd have to pay.

    It's rather odd that a single radio we all can hear would require payment to PRS, but giving us all radios (fixed to the same station) which we could listen to individually would not.

    Given the radio station has paid to broadcast to us, I think radios in public should be free. Running your own in-business entertainment (like Virgin & HMV do/did) obviously requires payment. And who here is old enough to remember Word Perfect technical support hold DJ? A friend of mine one asked to be put back to the end of the queue so he could listen to the end of a track!

  58. Bob. Hitchen

    Not a problem

    I don't buy or listen to music the police should just issue a directive that no music is played on their premises and it would be advisable to stop getting their personal music from any outlet covered by the toe-rags. The next step would be to make sure that PRS and its employees are obeying every aspect of UK law. They would soon get the message!

  59. Andus McCoatover
    Thumb Down


    In my place of (temporary) work, the 5 of us sometimes listen to A radio. Smegging lawbreakers!

    So, surely a simple solution, FFS, would be for ALL of us to bring our own personal radios in, and tune them all to the same channel. Then, it's surely legal. "Listening to my own, Mr. Plod. Honest Injun!"

    Fuc*king MUPPETS.

    Oh, and since when has a staff canteen in a fuc*king Police Station been a public place?? Like my house.

    Try and pop in for a quick cuppa to New Scotland Yard's caff, and see how far you get.

    Shite, will we be fined if the neighbours can (just) hear the stereo?


  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice Straw Man Fallacy

    El Reg said...

    A statement from Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Constable Derek Bonnard said: "We continue to assess the position and are seeking advice to determine if we are required by law to spend a significant amount of public money, which we consider is better committed to crime fighting, in this way."

    Nice "straw man" fallacy there, Mr Bonnard. Who said anything about the cash being used to pay for this coming from the pot of money you use to fund crime fighting? Why not instead take it from another pot of money, say the one used to pay for your coppers' Xmas party, therefore not affecting the fighting of crime?

  61. Anonymous Coward

    @Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    "I have no idea what the consequences are - apart from the ensuing rain of Tippex ....."


  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Why did you and Mycho leave that bit off?"

    I left nothing off. I made one statement of fact about the premise of the comment and didn't refer to the conclusions drawn from that.

    To clarify, if I say "Noel Edmonds is a twat because he's a Scientologist" then pointing out that he's not a scientologist... well, it certainly doesn't imply that he's not a twat.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's pretty clear cut really

    I couldn't see from the news report whether they were playing the radio or "something else". If they were playing from a CD, then they're meant to pay the rightholder (via PPL/PRS), unless the CD purchase price included a licence for public performance (most CDs don't grant that licence. If it was a radio, then they don't have to pay cos it's already been covered by the broadcaster.

  64. Andus McCoatover
    Dead Vulture

    It ain't "pretty clear cut"

    See the Debt^H^H^H^H S(h)ite collection docs. at:

    for what those muppets think they can get away with. Not just CD's - ANY crap. Wireless, Streaming, etc.

    Screw music, the Golden Goose was just strangled, plucked and roasted by its owner.

    TTF I've left the maggot-ridden rat-infested UK . Well, it will be, come next Summer with fortnightly bin collections (Dustman's strike '77(?) anyone? Parks in Central London as a 'repository'? OK I digress.)

    RIP, Notso Great Britain.

  65. CockKnocker
    Thumb Down

    good luck alan ellis!!

    All this for some file sharing, why the police dont spend their valuable time and resources fighting crime is beyond me. He was a scallywag who shared some music big whoop, go out and catch some rapists or something!!

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    "why the police dont spend their valuable time and resources fighting crime is beyond me"... exactly, if they're not doing it now - when they have got the funds - imagine what things will be like when they've had to use their cash to pay for the PRS protection racket!?!

    Mine's the picture of Mr Gates... cause he's had first hand experience of the long arm of the law, and also runs his own protection racket allegedly.

  67. Bren Flibig

    Stupid cops

    I don't mind them streaming the music - I just mind that they haven't got the balls to refuse to arrest the guy for doing the same thing they're doing.

  68. Alfazed

    Hear hear Alex Harper

    I agree with you Alex.

    We recently lost one of the best live music venues in Oxford when the Performing Rights Society rep told the landlord of the Ex that she owed hundreds of quids back payment for having a juke box. She objected, was taken to court and duly lost her stewardship of the pub. Cheers PRS !

    A car mechanic in a village was presented with a bill for playing the radio in his workshop because it was within earshot of the general public when visiting his garage. If a client left the radio in their vehicle playing, it was OK.

    Hmmm. and I thought that the Beeb paid to broadcast the music to the public.

    It seems that the PRS potentially, get several million extra bites at this cherry.

    Nice one fascist scavenging pig dogs.

    What a lot of greedy get rich at someone else's cost tw*ts.

    We fu**ing hate you.

    But make them filthy m*f*king thievin' bobbies pay anyway !

    Everyone else - Copyright Free music downloads this way - available from - check out The Soil Brothers latest CD World Vegetable Peace available in mp3 format, then go buy a disc from the artist.

    F*ck the PRS !


  69. Steve Swann

    Change the Law

    A proposed solution, involving a small change to UK copyright laws.... (as a copyright holder, I think my proposal is fair.)

    If a consumer, or business, purchases copyrighted material then they purchase the right to distribute that material, providing that said distribution does not bring any fiscal/financial profit directly to that consumer.

    So, if I buy a CD and play it at a house party for my friends, or at work for colleagues, I have broken no law, but if I hold a ticket-only rave and charge for people to attend, then I owe the artists who made the material a slice of the profit.

    Surely this is what PRS is actually trying to achieve? It's not fair to make a profit from someone elses labour without sharing that profit with them (Corporations, take note!), but it is equally unfair to charge someone for listening/sharing music they've already paid for!

    The rules regarding the copying and illegal distribution of material should remain unchanged. If you want to enjoy copyright material at your leisure, you should pay for it, but it shouldn't be a crime to share that with others providing you don't give them their own copy or charge them for the experience of doing so.

    Indeed, I think that such an egalatarian approach might actually increase the sales of copyright material as more people are exposed to it. Closing down the avenue of 'passive advertising through exposure to product' is surely not good for business?

  70. heystoopid


    Well , where is IFPI and BPA hiding when you need them to enforce the one law for all ?

This topic is closed for new posts.