back to article Police spent tens of thousands on failed BitTorrent probe

A failed three-year police investigation of a filesharing website, run in cooperation with the music industry, cost taxpayers at least £29,000, and probably much more. Figures released by Cleveland Police detail some costs of Operation Ark Royal, a raid on invitation-only BitTorrent site The probe was launched with a …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. yomchi86


    "But your 'onour, I would have bought the album but my money went on police subsistance instead....."

  2. Jason 24
    Thumb Down

    The only real loser is the taxpayer...

    Nothing new here, move along...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    gotta love the internet

    The Internet makes its own laws. The Internet IS democracy. Any attempt to police it will always fail.

    The Internet moves faster, is more resilient, and carries a collective might far greater than that of any bureaucratic institution you could ever hope to create. Governments, corporations and our mightiest institutions are snapped like matchsticks in its machinery. In comparison to the Internet, nothing offers you true freedom, and all the old media and governments are dying because of it.

    You can lie on the Internet, but you can not stop people from calling you out.

    I love the Internet.

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge


      Replace the word 'Internet' with the word 'Google'. It reads almost as well, doesn't it? And with the way things are going, it'll probably be true soon.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Google have an excellent web search engine which is only as good as the content it indexes. As more data dissapears behind paywalls and into private or institutional pay-per-access silos Google search will be little more than a blog indexer.

        Otherwise they've got -

        - a business model based on an adware web spam system

        - a webmail system which does the same thing as Yahoo, Hotmail or umpteen other free mail services.

        - a website logs analytics tool bought in from urchin, again one of numerous free / commerical weblog tools

        - image editing software picassa struggling for market share in a saturated market

        - blogger software - doesn't everyone have blog software these days?

        - a payment / checkout service supposed to rival payal, defacto for web transactions

        - a translation service copied from babelfish

        - a social network platform "orkut" that no-one uses

        - a failed social network revolution "wave" that no-one uses

        Its the arrogant megalomania "all the worlds belong to us" of investment pumped companies like google that ultimately bring their downfall and unpopularity...

      2. Goat Jam

        I replaced it with "teacups"

        That is all

  4. irish donkey

    So if they can get the people running the sites

    Better just let the ambulance chasing solicitors threaten people with the menace of the Courts.

    Downloading for free is a little bit wrong.... ruining people's lives with disproportionate fines is very wrong.

    Never mind though they did manage to get the DEB into Law. I guess the money was better spend bribing Peter Mandyson

  5. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    In other news

    Obviously the ISPs will just pass the cost on so now we can all help pick up the costs of policing the Interwebs.

  6. Rogerborg

    Ooh, ooh, followup FOI

    Ask for the cost of drafting the two refusals, including any psuedo-legal advice that they took on it, and the names of the individual(s) who made the decision(s). Shine the light into EVERY crevice.

    1. MinionZero

      @"Shine the light into EVERY crevice."

      In that case we also need to add in all the wages (and running costs) of all these people (police, forensics, lawyers, all their admin etc..) who are wasting their time on this, when they should be doing something else more important.

      This is after all a "three-year police investigation" therefore wages + basic running costs will take the overall costs of this way up. So its not tens of thousands, its into many hundreds of thousands and could easily be £1M+

  7. Anonymous Coward

    small correction

    Without getting dragged into the "but but but it is really not that wrong" type of discussion, it is one-sided to regard only the cost of policing and then proclaim that it is a pure waste of money.

    Without assuming that all downloads equate to "purchases that failed to happen", or saying that there are no positive effects, it is safe to say that piracy does have a net negative effect on sales.

    All those missed sales mean less VAT and less corporation tax in the coffers.

    I'm looking forward to the next article that decries the effect of piracy on the already difficult budget.

    1. PTR

      Totally disagree

      I've bought many things that I wouldn't have if I hadn't seen or heard the prequel for free.

      I've even gone out and bought entire back catalogs on the basis of a download (I even own all the Harry Potter books now!)

      And there's no way I would ever have gone to a music festival (£150+ each time) if I coudn't have downloaded an album of a few of the acts beforehand. And I've been to separate gigs for the bands I've seen there too.

      Thousands of pounds spent because of "illegal downloading" that would never have been spent without it.

      1. Tequila Joe

        Disposable? Pick one - musicians/suits


        But PTR your disposable income is going to the creative artists (via gigs) rather than to the record industry suits and lawyers....Don't you see how wrong that is?


      2. david wilson


        I'm sure there are some people like you, and others who'll see/hear something official or semi-official on the internet and spend accordingly - pretty much like the Old Days where many people got a tape of an album from a friend of a friend, and then went on to get into the band and buy lots of stuff.

        On the other hand, there are a lot of people these days, who will just download stuff as a matter of course, without spending much (or even any) money on buying recordings or going to gigs.

        How does anyone else tell which category a downloader is in, without walking into their home, and comparing what they have downloaded and kept with what they have actually bought?

        >>"Thousands of pounds spent because of "illegal downloading" that would never have been spent without it."

        'would never', possibly, but 'could never', maybe not.

        Even now, there's a fair amount which can be seen/heard just by looking around relatively legitimately, and that could certainly be improved in the future in all kinds of ways - a sampler for a music festival, or time/playback limited free samples, or recordings of enough quality to give an idea what's out there, but not as good as paid-for versions, etc.

        People who just wanted to get an idea what a particular recording was like could be catered for without giving freetards free-for-life full-quality recordings

        Though no doubt the subset of people who /are/ only looking for something for nothing would find something wrong with any ideas that didn't fit with what they want to do.

        1. A J Stiles

          Still no loss

          "On the other hand, there are a lot of people these days, who will just download stuff as a matter of course, without spending much (or even any) money on buying recordings or going to gigs." -- and without the opportunity to get it for nothing, they would most probably have gone without it altogether. So the industry isn't losing money because of these people.

          "time/playback limited free samples" -- doesn't work, and is mathematically impossible to make work. I actually invented a one-time-playable cassette when I was 8 years old. Whilst demonstrating the prototype, I discovered the fatal flaw in it -- and subsequently, how the flaw generalised to *any* limited-play media then known or to be invented.

          Times have changed, get with the programme. While you've been busy cutting deals to import rare shellfish for purple dye, William Henry Perkin has been inventing Artificial Mauve. And if anyone's "only looking for something for nothing", it's the recording industry.

          1. david wilson

            @A J Stiles

            Sure, there are always ways around time/playback limited samples, but an easy-to-use way of playing such things would be one way of separating the genuine people who just want to have samples to see if it's worth buying an album or seeing a band from the people who just use the 'I'm just checking out the music argument' as either a pretence for other people, or as a way of lying to themselves.

            If someone takes the trouble to get round the system, even if that's just by playing a file in a different bit of software, then are implicitly acknowledging that they're not really playing by the rules.

            Still, it's fairly clear from comments and votes here where many people really sit - even if there *was* a really good way of getting hold of all kinds of content for honest sampling purposes, there are lots of people who would be actively against it, since it would remove one of their excuses for freeloading.

            I await all the inevitable downvotes from the people who'd rather not admit the truth.

            1. A J Stiles

              Defeating limited-play

              The flaw is, you only have to be able to play it *once* to make *any* number of copies.

              No limited-play system (mine, BTW, used a piece broken from an old speaker magnet, carefully inserted inside the cassette shell between the slot for the pinch roller and take-up spool after recording) knows for sure that there isn't a recording device downstream of itself which will allow *un*limited plays in future.

              The point is, it's less effort to defeat it than it was to set it up in the first place. (Doing it all-digital would require some hefty prototyping kit, and building something that emulated a popular soundcard, but stored the digital data instead of converting them to analogue; but nonetheless it's still doable in principle. The distortion introduced by doing it in the analogue domain might be tolerable anyway.)

              The music industry have had it their own way for too long. Now the rules have changed: it's effectively a free market with competition, and they're being out-competed.

        2. Shakje

          @david wilson

          I think you're on the right lines, but you haven't reached the inevitable conclusion. There are, I think, generally two classes of file sharer. There's the one that does try before they buy (I tend to fall into this category, most of the games I've bought I've bought out of respect for the developer after trying it, same goes for music, although it's a very rare occurrence that I'll download music or films these days) and you can say that they're not really lost sales, because most of the time they will indeed buy what they have downloaded out of a feeling of principle for the people that have created it. On the other side you have people who download everything in sight. They go onto torrent sites every week at least and just grab whatever's out there. This behaviour is probably significantly different from what they do when they go shopping (assuming there wasn't P2P), where they probably can't actually afford to grab much. I'd guess that there really are lost sales, because when you're like that (I was at one point) it's a lot easier to just download something you like and not bother paying for it. This is probably more true with the decline of physical media, and lack of desire to actually own something physical. The thing is, the number of lost sales is probably minimal, and as they get older and maturer (not to mention richer), this sort of person is more likely to develop into the first kind of file sharer.

          The problem is that there's no way of stopping people getting free full-quality recordings, and it's going to happy one way or another. Let's imagine that suddenly the internet stopped working, do you really think that there would be no-one passing around memory sticks with music on?

          The other problem is that the recording industry and the cinema industry are completely shooting themselves in the foot. I went to see Inception (eventually) the other week and at the start it told me to support the film industry by going to the cinema. I was in the cinema. I had paid 8 quid odd for my ticket. I'm not the person that they need to be telling, and realistically is 8 quid a ticket going to be sustainable? It's as if they've decided that because less people are coming to the cinema they can fix it by jacking up the prices. With the abundance of home cinema equipment and especially in the current economic climate, it's just completely unrealistic to expect people to value the cinema over a DVD these days, unless it's accessible and cheap. It has advantages, but people just aren't going to continue paying through the nose for, with most films, completely negligible advantages. I wanted to see Inception at the cinema because of the quality of the film (I didn't watch it beforehand either), but very rarely do I see any need to watch something on a cinema screen as opposed to watching a DVD of it with extras and bonuses (I'm also one of the geeky people who actually listens to commentaries on films).

          Both industries feel that the best way they can retain their audience is by fruitlessly targeting people who are always going to be one step ahead. How long has their campaign against piracy been going on now? And how are sales looking? Are they increasing or decreasing? Is it directly proportional to levels of piracy? They know the answers, they just can't seem to take the fact that it's their own fault.

    2. Joe Montana

      Less Tax?

      If you assume that *some* sales are lost to piracy, it is unlikely that these sales will result in less tax revenue for the government...

      After all, what do you think people will do with the money they save due to piracy? Burn it?

      Most people will simply spend it on something else, something they can't get for free and so the government still gets their cut via VAT and corporation taxes, it just comes via different middlemen.

      Most people i know who pirate games for instance, will use the money they would have spent on games to buy additional games consoles, accessories such as controllers and higher spec components for their gaming computer.

      There is also no evidence to suggest that piracy has a negative effect on sales, it has been shown that file sharing actually increases sales as it allows users to try things they wouldn't have been able to do so otherwise.

      The big losses are generally in the shovelware category, where people trying them through piracy wouldn't subsequently buy them or other products from the same developer/artist. Movie companies for instance, like to trot out absolute crap and hype it up heavily so millions of people see it in the first week before the word gets round that its crap.

      1. david wilson

        @Joe Montana

        To an extent, you're right, though there is an international side to things.

        A country which on balance actually makes money from music/films/games/whatever sold abroad really can lose out if people elsewhere just leech content, and spend their money on other things, or if people in the source country don't buy content but buy imported goods instead.

        >>"Movie companies for instance, like to trot out absolute crap and hype it up heavily so millions of people see it in the first week before the word gets round that its crap."

        So *after* the first week or two, when people know whether it's crap or not, the downloading pretty much stops for anything objectively judged (by who?) to be crap, and no DVD sales are made later on?

        I dare say that downloading probably is higher initially and then tails off, but to a fair extent that's down to many people thinking for some reason that it's important to be among the first few million people to see something - an idea which cinemas also cash in on.

        To be honest, most people could get a pretty good idea of how crap they're likely to judge a film to be by looking at the actors and/or the director.

        I'm not sure I have a great deal of sympathy for people with no sense of pattern recognition or no wish to use what sense they have.

        To use a parallel of your tax argument, someone's going to end up taking their money, one way or another.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        2. bobbles31

          The word....

          Jason Stathom on a billboard are a fairly clear indicator of a weekend spent somewhere other than a cinema.


      Crime fighting should not pay

      ...the whole point of "policing" is the fact that you think something is so wrongful that it is worthwhile that you "lose money" on the whole proposition. Criminal investigations and prosecutions are for those things that are so bad that you want to get rid of them despite the monetary cost.

      It's Torts that should not be bothered with unless the money makes sense.

      Big Content is really annoyed about how most cops would rather go after shoplifters, or murderers, or drug dealers, or terrorists. Society doesn't really value "copyright crime".

      $60K? That's like what the girl sued for using Kazaa got stuck with just for sharing a single song.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Safe? Hardly.

      I think assuming that the net effect of piracy is negative is really rather presumptuous. Even looking just at front-line sales of music, the situation is now so complex that there's no real way of knowing. You can guess all you like, but no-one genuinely knows. The marketing spin everyone is putting on it is just part of the same reactionary, lawyer-led crusade that's been going on since before cassette tapes arrived. Some segments of the industry are desperate to blame outside forces; it's less threatening to large egos. But the truth is, we actually have no idea*.

      Anonymous, because my work is pirated from time to time, and it's politic not to be seen having an opinion other than "KILL THEM ALL."

      *My personal guess is that it's a fair bit better for the artists, and slightly worse for the execs. But I cheerfully admit that it's just a guess.

  8. Thomas 18

    So the real story is that...

    the police have no idea how much time they have invested in any given case. Furthermore they don't know what other departments are doing in relation to thier cases. And they are quite happy to dodge FOI requests with baseless excuses.

    Why am I not surprised. Bring on the cops from THX1138 with 'per car chase' budgets.

    1. david wilson

      @Thomas 18

      Would you reckon the police should spend time (and money) filling in forms to record how much time in a given day they spent on one or other case (a phone call here, pulling files from records there) so they can give a precise figure /if/ someone asks them?

      How does a traffic cop charge the time spent sitting in their vehicle or just driving around?

      Do they count it as part of the cost of the next traffic stop they make - after all, if they hadn't been waiting or driving, they'd probably never have made the stop?

      How does a beat cop charge 'keeping an eye out for someone' or 'trying to calm things down after some local tension'?

      1. Thomas 18
        Thumb Up


        I think its only sensible management that you are allocated to a case you should be told what proportion of your time to spend on it. As for beat cops, theres no reason not to put a GPS tracker on every one. So if you want to work out how much it costs to patrol the city centre one weekend you can just add up the number of people hours spent there patrolling around.

        1. david wilson

          @Thomas 18

          >>"I think its only sensible management that you are allocated to a case you should be told what proportion of your time to spend on it."

          I wonder how accurate initial estimates of time and cost tend to be for any given investigation?

  9. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I hear that more prosecution of Internet-based copyright-infringement...

    ...currently in the pipes is estimated to rake in about 200 million GBP per year for the "creative industries" (How did State come up with that number? Don't ask.).

    I suppose it will additionally cost the taxpayer 400 million GBP (see I can make numbers up, too).

    Hmm... that's 600 million net revenue, then.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  10. max allan


    Ellis reportedly made £200,000 and the police only spent £29,000 (plus normal hours work etc...) in trying to prosecute him.

    I wonder who managed to afford the best legal team...

    If they'd actually managed to prosecute presumably his money would have been taken as "proceeds from crime" and they could have put the whole thing down as a "profit" rather than a "loss".

    Any data on how much the successful prosecutions clawed back from the crims in question?

    1. I didn't do IT.

      Re: Income from "successful" prosecutions

      Like the mother of 2 convicted for over $1 million? Pretty sure that's "nada".

      RIAA, MPAA, IBPF, etc. have obviously never heard the term "can't get blood from a stone"... but they seem quite happy "beating a dead horse"...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No pig on pig comments eh?

  12. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Obvious really

    I mean yeah, he acted unlawfully, or in a way to help unlawful activity, but that is nothing to do with the police. The Music cartel should've paid for that work themselves (and with a lower burden of proof, may have won)

    But to prove that he was consiring to defraud ??

  13. Platelet
    Big Brother

    ratio of overtime to subsistence

    what I want to know is how many curries we paid for?

  14. George 20
    Thumb Down

    taxpayer = slaves

    Doesn't it suck that there needs to be a Freedom of Information Act to access information from a public institution funded by taxpayers money ? And what does the taxpayers do? They pay more taxes silently. They allow the passing of more oppressive laws so that they can break them and get into trouble.

    1. david wilson

      @George 20

      >>"Doesn't it suck that there needs to be a Freedom of Information Act to access information from a public institution funded by taxpayers money?"

      Not really.

      Even if people have different opinions on what the rules should be, you do need *some* rules about what information can and can't be given out, since almost any organisation is going to have some information which most people would agree should stay confidential.

      You can't have an unwritten blanket rule saying that a member of the public is allowed any information they want, since there are school/police/medical/defence/etc records and related information which are either private to individual citizens, or operationally sensitive, or both.

      You can't have a rule which says 'anything funding-related has to be public', since sometimes giving that information could expose sensitive stuff, or wouldn't actually be meaningful without exposing sensitive stuff, and even having such a simple rule would still require some kind of Act.

      If you *didn't* have some Act saying what people are expected to disclose when asked, what comeback would a journalist or a member of the public have if they asked for some information and were then just ignored, or told to go and screw themselves?

      Who would they complain to?

      On what basis would they make their argument?

      1. david wilson


        Cheers to the thoughtful downvoters.

        Now, could one of them maybe explain how people can expect to have the right to access any information, and hope to exercise that right, without that right somehow being legally defined?

        Or is it just that people have an idea of what *should* happen without any idea of *how* it should happen.

  15. ratfox Silver badge

    Small potatoes

    Really, £29,000 is not much. Compared to other misuses of taxpayers' money by the government, it hardly registers.

    Good for him that he was acquitted, though.

  16. ShaggyDoggy


    Is it just me, or is anyone else sick of hoe bodies paid for by taxpayers money, have to be prodded with an FOI before deigning to release spend figures ?

    It's our money you are spending, we have every right to know how you spent it without having to ask, thankyou very much.

    Now, please change the law to make publicly accountable bodies, erm , accountable publicly.

  17. Mectron

    How about

    sueing the music industry for miss use of public resources? for illegal snooping, police corruption?

    1. Tequila Joe

      Be nice to see the records.

      Yep, have to wonder what was said/promised and to whom to get the police to undertake this criminal investigation.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Fraud charge

        That's why the IFPI had to twist it from a simple running a "piracy site" ( I hate that term! ) to fraud, so they could convince the UK gov to get Plod on the case, else it would have been simply lawyer on lawyer.

  18. Simon Round

    Trial my Media!

    "TV cameras invited to record Ellis being led from his home in handcuffs"

    So the police knock on his door (or knock down his door), handcuff him, read him his rights, then lead him out the door to face TV camera so that the whole world knows who he is and what he has been accused off.

    Stinks of an attempt at trial by Media. Of course the police would say they invited the cameras for the positive publicity for the police. Shame nobody though (or did they?) about the negative publicity for the accused who is later acquitted.

    OK he may have committed a crime (or not) and got away with it but what every happened to Innocent until proven guilty?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      I was under the impression

      That it was being filmed for one of those dreadful cop shows, and a year down the line we'd be watching some bombastic hyper-edited monstrosity called "The Tru Face of Piracy"

      The Narrator would be like "a local police officer has had a hunch that someone in that house is downloading music". "You can always smell freshly burned CDs" says PC Plod, "Isn't it lucky that I just happened to catch a criminal during my first 5 seconds on the beat, as usual."

      So right on queue it cuts to footage of his door being kicked in. Try as the cops might to look cool doing it, they inevitably end up looking like something out of National Lampoon's.

      And because footage of what is effectively the inside of just about anybodies house can get boring, the show will cut to footage of drug dealers shooting babies in the face with RPGs etc.

  19. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Don't believe it

    GBP29k for 3-year investigation? I bet they spent that much for the first 3 weeks...

    Costs for a 3-year investigation + trial will go into millions. The trial alone will go into millions.

  20. Citizen Kaned


    anyone else think its odd that the police are fine with trying to catch pirates (working for record associations), yet when a big telco actively spies illegally on people they couldnt give a flying fuck...

    heads up oinkies; WE pay your wages, not the frikkin record associations. you work for US, not them.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Yes, but....

      The copyright media pay the politicians who tell the plods what to do....

  21. lotus49
    Thumb Down

    Probably the last time

    I think it's safe to say that, after this fiasco and faced with substantial cuts, no Police force in Britain will waste its time on acting as the record industry's poodle again.

    I agree with other posters who have opined that the true cost of this operation must have been far higher than the £29k quoted. I would be surprised, after a three year investigation, if the true cost were not ten times this figure.

    I wonder how many rapists and muggers they could have caught if the resources had been more properly allocated. I am sure the residents of Cleveland will have been delighted to know that their personal safety ranks below intellectual property protection in their local force's priorities.

  22. Blubster

    Operation Ark Royal?

    Where the fuck did they get that name from for christ's sake. I sometimes think plod wastes hours thinking of stupid names for their `operations" to make them sound hip.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      at least it wasn't the BBC

      Or they'd have ended up calling it Operation Dizzy Rascal.

      Wouldn't wanna pass up a nice opportunity to pimp him out some more.

    2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Ark Royal

      Is it a Freudian slip? Wasn't the Ark Royal torpedoed while it was in a "safe harbor" (Scapa Flow)

      1. David Hicklin

        Re: Ark Royal

        You are thinking about the battleship Royal Oak.

  23. Jemma

    Another waste of money...

    That sank without trace....

    Mines the Souwester with the Navy code book in the pocket.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    The title is required, and must contain blah blah blah

    echo lulz > /proc/musicindustry

  25. Martin Usher
    Thumb Down

    Spot the Trend....

    1) The government acting as proxies for commercial interests, setting up laws conceived by those interests for the benefit of those interests.

    2) The police as enforcers for commercial interests.

    The taxpayer, as ever, gets stiffed. Both ways.

  26. John Tserkezis

    "Police spent tens of thousands on failed BitTorrent probe"

    What, did they run out of drug dealers to chase?

    Or was it cheaper to fruitlessly chase a software pirate, rather than lose a couple of kilos of coke in a deal that goes nowhere?

    1. No, I will not fix your computer

      It's called balance....

      Murders are probably the worst type of crime, so should every single penny spent on crime prevention go towards solving and preventing murder, should we forget shoplifting because the corporations should just suck it up?

      By the same argument we (as humanity) should stop buying wide screen TVs, designer shoes, £50 nouvelle cuisine meals and solve world hunger, for the same reasons we shouldn't have shops that sell musical instruments because we have waiting lists in hospitals, why sell banjos when there are more important things to do?

      The truth and reality is, we will spend money on less important things because society has to consider the trivial with the critical, what is a valid question is to ask if it's a proportionate amount, do it solve a crime, and more importantly does it prevent a crime?

      £29k of public money spent to catch a guy who illegally made £200k? is it reasonable? is it appropriate?

      Don't be distracted with the free illegal download vs buying music, home taping didn't kill music and nor will illegal downloads. If you use software a lot or listen to an album a lot then the right thing to do is pay for it, should someone who's collected 1Tb of music and listens to none of it be fined a six figure sum? of course not, conversely is it fair for an 'unemployed' man to make 3k a month tax free selling pirate DVDs at car boots and in pubs?

      It's only my opinion, but I think there's a huge difference between the casual downloader and the people who make money from pirate downloads, in this case the police went after the right people, the issue shouldn't be should they have done it, but rather, why did they fail?

  27. Anonymous Coward

    The funny thing?

    The fact that during all the bruhaha of this mockery, a thousand file-sharing sites rose and fell and probably cost the media industries the same as the GDP of a medium size country!

    What a waste of time and money!

    Once again, the IFPI should be helping to foster the internet relationship with internet users, instead they provoke and wonder why people bite back. It has been down to the likes of Apple with iTunes and various slightly iffy Russian MP3 sites to try to fill the gaping chasm left by the media corps.

  28. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Thumb Down

    Don't do as we do, do as we say...

    Many years ago I was a BIG fan of a particular band and I bought all their albums on vinyl.

    The band broke up in 1980 but interest in the band was maintained in part by word of mouth and, ironically, and a lot of music sharing

    Unknown to the band (allegedly), their record company/management sold off all their back catalog to another company who a few years ago started selling the back catalog on CD at €9.99 each, and yes I bought quite a lot of them (for the second time).

    The band then realised what was happening and started a long legal battle to regain their back catalog, and when they got control of it they immediately bumped the price of all their CDs to €18.99 (including the live "double album" which fits on 1 CD anyway).

    Having saturated the marked with their back catalog, they are now re-releasing a lot of their CDs with the dreaded bonus tracks (i.e. spurious live recordings) for €18.99 as it's much more profitable to entice people into buying all their music for a third time rather than releasing a separate CD with all this co-called bonus material on it

    It seems to me that some parts of the music industry, while they object to being ripped off, have no problem ripping off joe public.

    As the saying goes, "what goes around, comes around"

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Non-transferable licences

      By buying the CD you are buying a licence to listen to it. There is a growing trend now (in software) for non-transferable licences. Autocad is one of these, you are no longer allowed to sell on an original copy of Autocad to someone else.

      I don't think DVDs, CDs and so on are going to be that far behind. The second hand market will die and people will get shafted.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    " did not keep records of normal hours spent on the case..."

    WTF - if that's true, it proves the police are unaccountable and fully deserve to lose 40,000 officers in cost cutting measures. What private business could afford to NOT know how much time its employees are spending on a particular job?!?

    Or The Register could just submit another FOI request and ask them if they were lying. Maybe not - apparently there's a law that prevents the police from being prosecuted for perverting the course of justice...

    1. david wilson

      @AC 09:11

      >>"What private business could afford to NOT know how much time its employees are spending on a particular job?!?"

      Obviously, for a business, the point is fairly clear - it's very useful to know if a particular job made money, (though of course, in practice, if a manager has prestige/career riding on a particular job making money, they're likely to do what they can to make it appear like it has done, by appropriate fudging of costs.)

      Knowing the inputs, they can compare the value of a job or product (what they get paid) with the cost of production.

      For the police, the point is rather less obvious.

      What's the *value* of taking a drunk for a night in the cells, or arresting a burglar, or attending a fatal RTA, or finding a cannabis farm, or telling someone their kid just got stabbed?

      In practice, the people who complain about a given police operation are often not complaining about the cost, but about the fact that it happened at all.

      Had the Oink investigation cost £500,000 or £30,000 or £1000, many people would complain regardless, so having an actual figure or a completely made-up one would have made very little difference.

      Likewise with speed cameras.

      Most of the people who would complain about the cost of speed cameras *to the taxpayer* if they weren't making money would also complain about them making money *for the government* if they were self-financing.

      They're not really complaining about the cost, just trying to use it as a way of supporting their dislike of cameras basec on other reasons - they'd complain about some other aspect of them even if some eccentric billionaire paid for all of them out of his/her own pocket and all the money from fines went to charity.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @david wilson

        You must be a public sector worker to be justifying why the police shouldn't account for their time. You may not care whether they're financially responsible with your tax pounds, but I certainly do.

        And you argument that its "too hard" to tot up hours spent arresting drunks etc is just specious - this is an investigation we're talking about, with real detectives, not plods, working on a specific case, not just some random incidents.

        There are far more pressing activities the police should be concentrating on than the low hanging fruit. You know, like the £40B ( criminal economy.

        The point of the post was that despite having a responsibility for law enforcement (ie justice), the police are happy to lie if it suits their ends. If I lie to the police, I can face jail. If they lie, nothing happens. No wonder they have lost the public's respect.

        A three year investigation does not cost £29K whether you're keeping a tally or not. Period.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    £29,000 for a three year investigation!

    Talk about flying pigs!

    The CPS court time and the witness costs alone would be more than that, not to mention the court costs etc etc.

    And three years on the investigation.

    I guess the figures where released under the Freedom of Misinformation act!

  31. FozzyBear

    It is overstating the obivous

    to say that the figures they supplied were heavily doctored. Speaking from personal experience (10 years in the constabulary) a 3 year investigation would have small core of experienced detectives (2 to 4) working full time on it. Other investigators and police officers would have been then seconded to the task force to support and provide the grunt work for the lead investigators At any one time you would have about 6-9 officers working on this investigation.

    Unless you have a staff pool of hundreds available in your policing area (Local Area Command they are called here) that is a huge hit to other ongoing investigations, you know, those that actually were criminal offences

    Amazing how a little political pressure can relegate ongoing murder, armed robbery and serial break and enter investigations to inexperienced officers. The monetary cost would have been enormous, definitely into the millions. The cost attributed to the unsolved or ongoing criminal cases would have been bigger. It’s not an isolated incident and the main reason I left

    Massive fail on the music industry and the police command in question

    1. david wilson


      >>"Speaking from personal experience (10 years in the constabulary) a 3 year investigation would have small core of experienced detectives (2 to 4) working full time on it."

      Well with the benefit of your experience, do you reckon there really is a 'typical' investigation?

      I'd have thought there might be a lot of variation in manpower between a case that is actively worked over years, and one where the work is done in short bursts, but takes a long time to come to trial.

      In this case, what could full-time detectives actually have been /doing/, apart from tracking down suspects they'd been told about from computer records, and interviewing them?

      It's hard to see that there'd even be a huge amount to cover in an interview, beyond a question of who had access to a particular PC, if you actually had reliable records of what had happened on the Oink servers. Maybe trying to get someone to confess, or checking to see if they have a plausible-seeming story that suggests they may not have been responsible, but beyond that, is there really much to say or ask?

      After the first year, when charges had been laid, they couldn't even interview the suspects again to relieve the boredom.

      I can see it could cost time and money to examine the evidence that had been seized at the start, though that seems pretty much a tech job, rather than anything a regular detective can help much with.

      As for the uploaders, it seems a fairly short time period (a few days) that they were being interviewed over between being first contacted and then bailed to wait to be charged.

      To be honest, I don't see many full-time detective years of work necessarily being involved in something like the Oink case, unless detectives count thumb-wiggling and waiting for geeks to tell them things as full-time work, and I wouldn't have thought that they did.

  32. Steven Snape

    Simple solution

    A simple solution to fix most of the music piracy would be to follow Microsoft. At some point I assume Microsoft realised that students dont have much money and released a copy of MS Office which students could afford. If the music industry reduce the cost of albums to a sensible level sales will rise and I am sure profits will rise with them.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    25% Police cuts !

    That will stop them from pursuing content mafia vanity projects when the police should be dealing with grannies getting mugged.

    Wake up content mafia your old business model is dead, technology has changed things permanently so go find some other mugs to rip off.

    Most of these content mafia execs would be equally at home flogging you a clocked car or dumping toxic waste in your garden; just thugs in suits.

  34. Is it me?

    To procecute or not to procecute

    Enforcing the Law is an expensive business, and if the Police decide to investigate a complaint, then it will cost money, they can't always tell if their investigations will result in a prosecution when they start, a team of say five investigators would cost around £350,000 a year, for labour, to run full time, and that's before you add external costs. So even a relatively small investigation will apparently cost a large amount of money, most certainly more than the value of the crime.

    The failure of a prosecution also does not always mean that the defendant was not guilty, only that the case was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. You should also remember that prosecutions can also be made purely to clarify the law, which politicians are crap at making, so that precedent can be set, and save time and effort later. Juries are also fickle, they actually don't have to follow the law, and will often find someone not guilty of a crime for perfectly human reasons, like they don't like the law, or that they don't understand the prosecution's case.

    So let me ask our commentators, do you really want the Police only to investigate crimes that they know they can solve and prosecute successfully up front? Would we be having this discussion if they had succeeded. Or perhaps you all believe illegal downloading is ok.

    1. Just Thinking

      Not a crime?

      This case was basically copyright infringement, AFAICT, which is a civil offence and therefore nothing to do with the Police.

      Dressing it up as fraud to give the Police an excuse to investigate it was outrageous, and a reckless waste of public money.

      Pirate sites and those who use them are not committing fraud or theft. They are potentially damaging the profits of the record companies, and it is down to the record companies to sue them to recover the damages.

      "So let me ask our commentators, do you really want the Police only to investigate crimes that they know they can solve and prosecute successfully up front? Would we be having this discussion if they had succeeded. Or perhaps you all believe illegal downloading is ok."

      Lets start by saying that the Police should only investigate crimes, and then narrow it down from there. This was never a crime. And illegal (ie criminal) downloading doesn't exist, although copyright infringement may be a civil offence.

      1. david wilson

        @Just Thinking

        >>"This case was basically copyright infringement, AFAICT, which is a civil offence and therefore nothing to do with the Police."

        So the uploaders got community service (and could potentially have got jail time) for a civil infringement?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          @david wilson

          As i understand it the other people that were prosecuted were done so under the same fraud charge as here and when they were offered a community service charge for changing their position to guilty, all but one of them took it. Now the final person had all charges against them dropped when this case was lost. So as originally stated this was never going to stand up as a criminal offence as it was simply a civil case dressed up to be fraud.

          1. david wilson


            >>"As i understand it the other people that were prosecuted were done so under the same fraud charge"

            The reports I've seen in all kinds of places all seem to say they were charged with copyright infringement, while the site admin was charged with conspiracy to defraud.

            Maybe those reports are all wrong.

            Any idea if that's actually the case, with sources?

            Seems like there is a criminal element to copyright infringement, covered pretty well here:


            Ultimately, comes down to whether someone 'prejudicailly affected the rights owners'.

            I guess that'd be rather easier to argue if someone uploaded content that was then pulled own by loads of people, rather less so if it wasn't popular.

  35. Moyra J. Bligh

    I'm sure the suits in the recording industry hate me

    99% of the CD's that I buy are second hand - there's a huge used CD/DVD place not far from me, and I raid it frequently. The rest of the CD's that I buy are ones that come directly from independent artists.

    The suits in the music business get the same amount of money from me as they would if I was downloading the stuff.

    1. david wilson


      >>"The suits in the music business get the same amount of money from me as they would if I was downloading the stuff."

      It's arguable that a second-hand buyer is helping to keep secondhand prices up, which can feed back to the original buying market, whether by a new buyer just having more money in their pocket from the CDs they sold, or by them looking at a new CD price but mentally knocking off what they think they could get if they sold it.

      I doubt that record company suits are much concerned about people buying legit CDs secondhand.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely the elephant in the room

    Is that the investigation took 3 years in the first place?

    This can only be because either plod is extremely incompetent or that they actually did only spend £1.24 on it as they claim. Or £29,000 or whatever.

    However I think the assertions that plod put 3-5 full time bodies onto this plus truck loads of secondments is a dubious conclusion.

    I think it probably went along the lines of:

    Duty inspector sitting at his desk and then his phone rings:

    DI: Hello? Yes hello deputy assistant assistant chief constable, how may I help you?

    DI: yes, yes, yes she's fine, yes their fine thank you. The what? Oh shit! I mean yes our best men are looking into it as we speak, I expect results soon. No, well, fraud investigations like this are rather complex. So how is the UK CEO of <insert record company here> doing? Are you playing golf with him again today?

    DI: Sargent! get in here now!

    Sarge: Yes sir?

    DI: what are you doing about this copyright guy?

    S: nothing, its a waste of time, the public will hate us and we have all these muggers, rapists and speeders to catch instead.

    DI: Get someone on it straight away, I want to see a progress report tomorrow.

    S: yes sir.

    S: Constable, I need you to look into this copyright case.

    C: No thanks, its pointless, the public will hate me and I have criminals to catch.

    S: I'll sign for 2 hours of overtime and make sure your name is kept out of it.

    C: Throw in pizza and some garlic bread and you're on.

    *******Repeat every few months until the CPS decide enough is enough and go to court*******

    At least that's how it happened in my head. Your reality may vary but I prefer mine. It is a happy place.

    1. david wilson


      >>"Surely the elephant in the room is that the investigation took 3 years in the first place?"

      Did the /investigation/ take 3 years?

      They were all charged within a year, and that presumably includes time taken for the CPS to decide whether people should be charged.

      Courts can take loads of time to do anything, and almost any delay is going to be a matter of months rather than weeks.

      Also, some people clearly seem to consider this an amazingly important case.

      While it may well be important to /them/, I think it would be indulging in projection to conclude that the CPS, police and court system all thought it was /their/ highest priority.

      I wouldn't be at all surprised if some/all of them actually thought it was medium or rather lower priority.

      Now, I certainly wouldn't have put it past people to think their case wasn't great, and to prolong the wait to inconvenience the defendants, maybe at the prompting of copyright holders worried they might lose.

      Equally, for all I know, they may have had other people they thought it was more important to put before the courts than these people, and just kept putting their case on the shelf until they had nothing better to do or they really couldn't get away with leaving it any longer.

  37. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Wrong focus

    If the Police are going to investigate anything online it should be ID theft, hacking, spammers and scammers.

    These are the criminals!

  38. candtalan
    Big Brother

    Thieves will pay, they actually DID pay

    Using proper survey methods, a random sample of internet users of ages between 18 to 44 has shown that users of P2P technology spend considerable money on traditional media and entertainment. 34% more on movies in theatres, purchases of 34% more DVDs and rents, 24% more movies that the average internet user.

    "It is clear that it is not just about free content. P2P users are important to the revenue model of traditional media and entertainment companies."


    Media Companies' best customers are the ones who steal content:

  39. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Was this even what most plod signed up for?

    Private goon squad to major record labels?

    Not even the prospect of dishing out some some decent wallop* to some pony tailed road/animal rights//arms trade/G20/women sleeping in her car protester.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020